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How to get out of the hole 

Tips on managing your money

It's tough to figure out where to start when you're deep in the red. Here are some tips to help you manage your money:

• Go to a public college. "A half a loaf is much better than all," says Clark Howard, a WSB-AM talk-show host. Students who want the prestige of a private, well-known university might consider attending a public college or junior college for the first two years and then, if they really want to, transfer to a "megabucks university."

• Get schooled on credit cards. "Most kids get these credit cards without understanding the basics," says Todd Mark of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta. Find seminars or websites that give an overview of how credit cards work.

• Set up a budget and give yourself an allowance. Chart out your expenses for the month, starting with the cost of rent, transportation, food, loan or credit card payments, and insurance. Then figure out how much "play" money you can afford. Howard says a great way to stay on top of it is to give yourself an allowance. "Living on cash is the key when you finish school," he says. "You live only by what cash you have and when it's gone, it's gone until the next paycheck."

• Get informed. Come to CL's Political Party to hear from financial experts and students who face heavy debt loads on Wed., Oct. 11, 8 p.m., at Dad's Garage Theatre, 280 Elizabeth St.

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