Tag Archives: budget

6 Easy Money Saving Tips Any Student Can Use

20 Apr

Jim Wang, Wallet Hacks
wallethacks.com

College is a fantastic time of exploration, freedom, and growth.

It’s also a time when many of our habits are formed, especially those about money and saving. These habits can have a ripple effect on your life so solidifying a few good practices today can help you better manage the future.

I have a list of 40+ money tips for college students, which cover the basics like emergency funds and budgeting, but today I wanted to share an extra set of just money saving tips every college student needs.6 Easy Money Saving Tips

Avoid credit card debt at all costs

It’s so easy to charge everything to plastic. Whether it’s textbooks, equipment, or a pizza, make sure that you pay off your credit card bill in full each month.

It’s so tempting to pay the minimum and push the debt off another month, but that will result in you paying hundreds of dollars (if not more!) in interest for nothing. If you don’t believe me, you can use this calculator to do the math yourself and find out how much that $20 pizza will cost you!

That’s money you can use to save for your retirement, for a new car, or your first house. Avoiding debt, especially high interest credit card debt, is priority number one after graduation.

Start budgeting

Budgeting isn’t the most fun thing to do but getting in the habit early is a good idea. When you budget, you have a better sense of where your money is going.

You can use tools like Mint or Personal Capital to help automate the process and when you’re older, you’ll appreciate the wealth of historic information you’re recording now.

Cook more, eat out less

Your studies and your social activities will probably take up a big chunk of your time, so you’ll be tempted to eat out more than you cook if you’re not on a university meal plan.

Resist the temptation! Eating at a restaurant, even a quick service one, is far more expensive than cooking at home. In the beginning, you’ll be terrible at it. Everyone is.

But stick with it and try to cook as much as you can. It’s healthier, cheaper, and you’ll get better the more often you do it.

Take advantage of student discounts

Businesses give student discounts all the time. They know that students don’t make a lot of money and they still want your business, so they’re willing to give you a break if they know you’re a student.

Always keep your student ID on you and ask if a student discount is available – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Use your student loan for tuition only!

Some student loans are deposited directly into your student account and some are deposited directly into your bank account. If you have one of the latter, do not use the money for anything other than tuition and school related expenses.

If you have no other choice, you can use it on necessities but your goal should be to avoid debt as much as possible. Sometimes you don’t have any other options, and that’s understandable, but make sure before you saddle yourself with student debt.

Earn a little cash in your spare time

We all have downtime during the day and on weekends – try to find a way to turn that time into money.

Whether it’s taking on a side gig, earning some cash online through surveys, or something bigger – building a side hustle that earns a little extra money can pay dividends in the long run. There are a lot of sites online that will pay you money for small segments of work, or gigs, and you can easily finish them in 5-15 minutes of down time.

Jim Wang writes about money on his personal finance blog, Wallet Hacks. Get his strategies and tactics for getting ahead financially and in life by joining his free newsletter.

 

Halloween on a Shoestring

4 Oct

Written by Catherine Bylak, Purdue Student

halloween on a shoestring leader.jpg

College students love Halloween. Whether it be from the joy of showing up together in the perfect squad costumes or maybe it’s the candy corn, regardless, college students scream for Halloween.

If you’re a college kid who screams for Halloween, while your bank account screams for savings, then we have a few tips to enjoy this Halloween on a shoestring!

DIY Costumes

Goodwill Stores are the perfect place to start if you’re only trying to spend a few bucks on a costume. Grab a cheap flannel and complement it with jeans and you can go as a lumberjack! There are endless possibilities. Think of your favorite TV character, generic job titles, or puns and find items that represent them.

By making your own costume you can show off your ingenuity and style, rather than spending $30-50 on a stock costume that you’ll wear maybe four times.

Plus a DIY costume is way more original.

There are three Goodwill locations near the Purdue campus and several other thrift stores nearby for all your thrifty Halloween costume needs.

 

You can even create identification cards in a word document to print, cut out, and wear so people will understand your costume. costume ID.jpg

DIY Decorations

There are tons of ideas for homemade decorations that can utilize anything including empty milk gallons, garbage bags, and a few permanent markers. For those who aren’t interested in Pinterest, here are some links for cheap decoration alternatives: Indoor & Outdoor by Money Crashers and Effortless Decorations by DIY Projects

Cheap Treats

We all know that fun costumes and decorations make Halloween great, but so does the candy. If you adore the treats over the tricks, here are some sites for cheap candy: Halloween Candy Warehouse and Bulk Candy Store.

Maybe your favorite aspect of Halloween is enjoying few unique, of-age drinks that ensues. In that case, check out these sites for cheap, Halloween themed cocktails: Jello shots, spooky cocktails, candy-inspired drinks, and cheap Halloween cocktails.

Now, you can scream and save this Halloween.

Healthy Eating on a College Budget

29 Sep

Heather Kessler, Purdue University Alumna
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

healthy-eating-on-college-budget

Is it really possible to eat healthy while on a small college budget? There are many guides on the internet offering advice on this topic. I’ve gone ahead and broken down a few of the most common suggestions.

1)      Always have low-budget healthy staples on hand.  This is just a small list of what can be helpful to have in the pantry or fridge at all times.

list of healthy foods

2)      Have a plan before you shop.

  • Check to see what is on sale that week at local grocery stores, and what coupons are available
  • Make a menu for the next week (or two)
  • See what you already have in stock in your kitchen
  • Make a list of the other items you need
  • Stick to that list while shopping for items
  • Try to stay around the perimeter of the grocery store as this is where the healthy produce tends to be.  The aisles usually contain items that have been processed and are not very healthy.

grocery store producs

3)      If you struggle with buying more when you have a card, plan how much you are willing to spend ahead of time and get just that amount in cash.  This will help you keep to your pre-determined budget and be less likely to overspend.

4)      For fruits and vegetables try to stick with what is in season and on sale, as it will keep the prices down.  Frozen vegetables are also good to use and will keep longer (and can usually be found at lower prices than fresh vegetables).  Canned is okay, but they tend to use more preservatives in the canning process.

5)      For lean protein on a budget, try to stay with white meats.  Chicken and turkey are both great options.  If you are willing to spend a little more money, salmon or tilapia offer wonderful health benefits.

6)      Whole grains offer the most nutrition for the dollar with items such as bread or pasta.  Try to avoid white bread and pasta since they are processed and most of their nutrients have been taken out.

Try not to waste any of the food you have, you invested good money into those items and they should be used.  If you need ideas on different entrees to make with the same ingredients Pinterest or The Food Network have many different ideas and they are easy to navigate through.  Here’s to healthy eating and more money in your bank account!

Your Federal Loan Repayment

23 Sep

Honest businessman

Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Debt.org, where she writes about personal finance and little smart ways to spend (and save) money. Alanna has an English degree from Rollins College. Join our Debt.org Google+ Community

repay-banner

As you fill out your intent to graduate forms and begin looking into the post-college future, your stomach might start to turn. You might start to panic and it may become difficult to breathe as you start imagining your monthly student loan payments. Stop, take a step back, BREATH, and let’s think about the situation.

But guess what? There’s good news!

Not only do you have a six month grace period after you leave school or drop below half-time attendance for your federal student loans, you also have numerous options for repayment plans. A grace period is a period of time after borrowers graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment where they are not required to make payments on certain federal student loans. Some federal student loans will accrue interest during the grace period, and if the interest is unpaid, it will be added to the principal balance of the loan when the repayment period begins. Repayment plans are designed to accommodate the needs of graduates entering the job market and receiving introductory salaries, while carrying the responsibility of handling additional bills, like rent, insurance, gas and groceries.

You do have options. If the standard ten-year plan with fixed payments is too much for you to handle, contact your lender to negotiate payments that match your budget. Not sure who your lender is? You can view all your federal loans and their lenders online from the National Student Loan Database.

Which Plan Meets Your Needs?

Cartoon Family Portrait

Federal student loans come with a variety of repayments plans that are offering based on requirements such as income, family size, or loan type. Examples of federal loans include Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loans, which could be Subsidized Stafford loans, Unsubsidized Stafford loans, or PLUS loans. There are three main categories of repayment plans for you to consider.

First, the Graduated Repayment plan will allow you to begin making lower payments. Although, like the Standard plan, this plan must be completed in ten years, the lower payments gives you time to increase your salary. Every two years, your monthly payments will increase.

Second, if the Graduated plan is still more than you can afford, the Extended Plan allows you to take up to 25 years to repay loans. There is more flexibility with this option, as you can choose between a fixed or graduated payment.

Finally, there are four different repayment plans that consider your income as a factor. Some of these plans also consider factors like family size, spouse’s income, and total amount of loans. Although these have similar-sounding names, each has specific requirements and formulas which influence the monthly amount you will owe.

Four plans with income factors:

Federal Loan Consolidation

While you are researching different payment cycles and methods, you may consider a Federal Loan Consolidation. A Federal Loan Consolidation allows you to merge all your Federal Student Loans into one loan. This can include your Subsidized Stafford Loan, Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, and Perkins loans. Once all your Federal Student Loans are merged into one loan, you will only have one monthly payment and one interest rate attributed to the loans. However, note that this will likely not reduce your overall interest rate since it is weighted by loan. As you can see, a Federal Consolidated Loan may allow for an easier way to manage monthly repayment.

How Can You Prepare Now?

cartoon roadmapGet in the habit of putting a portion of your paycheck in savings now, before you start paying back your loans. This will force you to make a budget and spend less every month, so when the time for repayment comes, it will be easier to part with this percentage of your paycheck.

The money you save up during your grace period can also be used as an emergency fund of accessible cash for unexpected situations. This cushion can enable you to afford your loan payments even when you have unexpected expenses such as a flat tire, broken arm or speeding ticket. Preparing yourself for the future can protect your loan debt from growing any larger.

Make sure your loan servicer has updated information, including your phone number and email. Your servicer will need this information in order to communicate any new information on your loans, including when your next bill is due.

Choosing a plan and taking a proactive approach with your finances can help you smoothly adjust into your repayment period.

Cost of Attendance: Explained

21 Sep

Whether you know it or not, there is a limit to how much financial aid you can receive in a year. This is reflected in your Cost of Attendance (COA), which is sometimes referred to as your “budget” when speaking to a financial aid counselor. It includes 1. Tuition & Fees; 2. Housing & food; 3. Travel; 4. Books/ Supplies; and 5. Miscellaneous (think laundry or other random expenses). Your COA is NOT what you are being billed, rather it is an estimate of the total cost of attending school for one year.

  1. Tuition is the biggest variable between students when it comes to COA. The three different standard levels of tuition are based off of your residency as shown on the chart. This will also include your differential fees as well.tuitionfees-image.jpg
  • Differential Fees are added tuition costs for certain colleges or with specific majors (Engineering, Krannert, Polytechnic, and Computer Science).
  • Then, there are fees for classes like horseback riding, wine tasting, etc. While these are added to your bill like Differential Fees, they are not automatically added to your COA! The exception is the course fees for Aviation Tech majors.
  • These Differential and Course Fees are the same for every student regardless of residency.
  1. After Tuition & Fees, everything else other than Travel is the same for each student’s COA, regardless of their residency.housingfood-image
  • Outside of tuition, your biggest expense is almost always going to be your housing and food.
  • If you live on-campus or have a meal plan, this will be included in your bill from Purdue.
  • However, if you live off-campus it will not be on your bill but will still be included in your COA.

Your COA says that on average you should be spending $10,030 combined for your housing and food costs. Depending on your situation this might be much higher than you actually need or it might not be enough.

  • If you find that your housing and food costs will be significantly lower, consider borrowing less if you are taking out student loans.
  • If it is much higher and you need financial aid to help, contact the Financial Aid office.travel-image
  1. The travel portion of the budget is one that will end up extremely different from one student to the next. This is generally meant to be enough for a student to visit home twice throughout the year, but as you can bet the $370 is woefully inadequate for an International Student unless you’re driving to the closest areas in Canada from West Lafayette.bookssupplies-image
  1. Books and Supplies attempts to estimate the costs for your textbooks and other supplies needed for the year (pens, folders, notebooks, etc.). You may also consider using this money in order to buy a computer for yourself in order to do your classwork. If this is the case and your current aid will not be enough to cover it you may consider contacting the Financial Aid office to help increase your budget.miscellaneous-image
  2. The Miscellaneous category are all of the other incurred student costs that don’t fit neatly into the other categories. Costs like toiletries, laundry, clothes, and other personal expenses are included in this diverse category. Although they are smaller purchases, if they are unaccounted for, they can chip away at anyone’s budget.

If you feel like your Cost of Attendance is not representative of your costs of being a student at Purdue for a year and gives you too little room for aid, please contact our Financial Aid office. Conversely, if you find it is higher than you need and you are borrowing to help finance your education, seriously consider taking less in loans! Every dollar you don’t borrow is one you don’t have to pay back – with interest. You are also able to have allowances for child care or other dependent care and costs related to a disability, which is also added into your COA, but you must contact the Financial Aid office for assistance.

Keep in mind that if you increase your Cost of Attendance, that only increases how much aid you are eligible to receive! If you already have less aid than your COA, you probably won’t be getting more just by increasing it.

Financial Aid Contact Information:cost of attendance explanation.jpg
Walk-in appointments in Schleman Hall room 305
Call-in at 765-494-5050
Both available from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.

10 Steps to Financial Success

9 Aug

  1. Assess your station in life

    Taking an honest look at your wants and needs can help you prioritize what is most important to you right now. Do you feel good about your current station in life? Are you headed in the right direction?

  2. Plan for life changes

    Almost without exception, your needs are going to be different in five years than they are now. Whether you will be graduating, getting married, having children, or switching careers, there will be changes to account for. The best thing you can do is to be prepared for them.

  3. Invest in yourself10 financial tips portrait.jpg

    The one person you have to live with your entire life is you. Taking care of yourself mentally, financially, and physically on a consistent basis will reap lifelong benefits. In addition, challenge yourself to improve and try new things because a good investment should focus on growth, not staying the same.

  4. Write down your goals

    Having goals gives you something to work toward. Writing these goals down makes your plans concrete and more likely to materialize.

  5. Keep adequate records

    In addition to keeping track of tax and other documents for an appropriate length of time, you also want to keep records of your spending habits. You might feel like you’re spending too much on something, like eating out, but being able to track your spending will help you find out for sure.

  6. Pay yourself first

    Saving money can be simple or nearly impossible. If you take money from your paycheck and immediately deposit it into a savings account, it’s easy (completely effortless if via direct deposit). If you try to scrape together what’s left at the end of a pay period and deposit it to savings, or keep it sitting in your checking account, it’s almost impossible. Be sure your bills are paid, but consider setting aside a certain amount for savings each pay period.

  7. Cut expenses

    Even the most frugal among us have places where we can afford to cut costs in some capacity. For the average person, things like reducing bills, food costs, or under-used entertainment and gym memberships can make a significant financial impact in the short term.

  8. Spend much less than you earn

    Spending just a little less than you earn is a good way to perpetually live paycheck to paycheck. However, if you can reshape your

  9. Pay down your debt

    Debt can be an enormous stressor and it doesn’t get better by itself. Every dollar that you can pay back ahead of time is a dollar that doesn’t collect interest. This can save you a lot of money in the long run.

  10. Create a budget and stick to it

    After you’ve gone through the first nine steps, this one is easy. Once you have an honest assessment of where you are and where you’re hoping to go, you can begin creating your budget. Design your budget so that you can pay for your needs, as well as the wants you have prioritized. The key is following through on your budget! Remember that the budget is simply a spending plan of where you want your funds to go. If you fail to follow through, you will hurt yourself, both now and in the future.

It’s Time to Review Your Budget!

29 Jun

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

close up dollar bills

So, back in January you read our blog post on budgeting, created your own budget and have been dutifully following it since…right? But what’s in that budget? And why is it budgeted for that amount?

Consider this list of questions as you review your budget:

When was the last time you reviewed your budget?

Is everything listed in your budget still relevant?

Are there any reoccurring expenses not included or that you need to remove?

Are you budgeting your ‘fun money’? If not, why not? If yes, are staying in that budget? Does your ‘fun money’ allotment need increased or decreased at all?

Are you setting aside money for a big savings goal? Why or why not? If you’re not, can you think of a goal that you can save up for?

What’s sucking money from your budget? How can you fix that?

Is there a portion of your budget that you’re just not spending money on anymore? Where’s that money really going?

Where can you cut back to put more towards your big savings goal?

———–

Do you have any other tips of things to consider as we all review our budgets this month? Please share in the comments below!

Lifestyle Inflation

18 May

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

hot air balloon; text overlay: Beware Lifestyle Inflation

You’ve graduated. Hooray!

You’ve landed a dream job. Hooray!

And best of all…that dream job comes with more money than you’ve ever had before and now you get to plot out how you’re going to spend all of your riches. You can finally get that car you’ve been eyeing (and ditch your old beater car). You can update your ENTIRE wardrobe because you can’t wear sweats/yoga pants to a real job every day. You can finally buy all organic food and eat out at great restaurants more often. You can get a great apartment with an extra bedroom…because why not? You’ve got money now!

But wait…If you do all of these things, then you’re quickly going to run out of money. And what’s the point of having a regular, decent income if you don’t actually have any money at the end of the month?

It’s important to remember that just because you can afford all of these things doesn’t mean you should actually buy all of them. You want to avoid the deathly trap of lifestyle inflation. Lifestyle inflation occurs when you’re making more than you were before and you spend accordingly (i.e. more money earned equals more money spent). But wait…that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Again though, it isn’t bad (and it may even be fun) until you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck just like you did in college.

If you’re making bank right out of college, invest some of it! Save for a big goal! Don’t starting spending like crazy because now you can buy all the stuff you ever wanted and didn’t even know you wanted. You’ll run out of money fast if you’re not careful.

So…how do you avoid spending every last dime of your new income?

Set a BIG Savings Goal

Now that you’ve graduated college you have more freedom to decide what to do with your time and since you’ve scored your dream job, you have money to play with. What’s something big you want to spend your money on? Some common things would include a house, a wedding, a vacation overseas, your dream car. Some uncommon options could include retiring early or starting your own business. Whatever your goal, own it! Save for it.

Spend Below Your Means

Don’t blow your money on pointless purchases. You don’t have to eat like a college student anymore, but you also don’t need to eat like a King. Maybe you can just have one roommate instead of three. Keep your spending low so that you have room to save your big goal.

Budget

This is what it all comes back to. You need to have a plan for spending your money. If you don’t have a plan for where your money is going every month then you’ll quickly run out of money before the month is up.

 

Do you have any tips for avoiding lifestyle inflation? Let us know in the comments below!

Let’s Talk Credit Scores

22 Apr

*This blog ran earlier this year, but we decided to post it again for Money Smart Week*

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Here at MyMoney our goal is financial literacy. We want to teach students and our readers how to be smarter with their money and that makes the topic of credit kind of taboo. You see, credit talks about your relationship with debt: how much of it you have currently, how much you’ve paid off, how good you are at paying back your debt, what kinds of debt you have. We don’t want you to be in debt, but we do want you to be informed. And, since the average college student graduates with at least $20k in student loan debt, you should know how that affects you.

Girl in airport; text overlay: Let's Talk Credit Scores

Here’s the basic breakdown of what makes up a credit score, via wikiHow:

Payment history — 35%. How often do you pay your bills on time? Late payments hurt your score.

Debt usage — 30%. How much debt do you have in relation to your overall limit? Low debt and high limits is what you’re after.

Credit age — 15%. How long have you been establishing your credit? The longer the better.

Account mix — 10%. How many accounts or lines of credit do you have open? The more the better.

Inquiries — 10%. How often do you apply for new credit? Too many inquiries can hurt your score.

These are all taken into consideration and then get applied to a scale, typically between 300 and 850. You want to aim to have at least a good credit score, usually between 700 and 749. Go here for a breakdown of what the different levels of credit scores mean.

Your credit score is important for your future financial and personal prospects. Say one day you want to buy a house; the easiest way to buy a home is to take out a mortgage, and while paying the balance in cash sounds nice, it’s just not feasible for most people. And to get a good rate on that mortgage, you need a good credit score. This is probably all you’ve ever heard on the subject, with the exact same example (because it’s a good example). Now, how do you make sure you have a good credit score? Or better yet, how do you keep from having a bad credit score?

#1 Pay your bills on time

Every single one of them. Every time they are due. While you’re in college you can practice with your cell phone,  utilities, and rent. Then, consider a credit card that you use for only very specific things (gas, perhaps) and pay that off on time, every time the payment is due. Once you’ve graduated, make sure you don’t default on your student loans (i.e. make your payments on time, every time).

#2 Budget your money

But…what does that have to do with credit? Everything. If you’re not budgeting your debts (e.g. car payment, rent, utilities, student loan payment), then you’ll fall behind on your payments and your credit will start creeping downhill. Remember that credit card I mentioned in #1? Don’t use it for unbudgeted expenses (with the exception of it being a serious crisis like emergency roadside assistance that’s not covered by your car insurance, not when you desperately need a latte). Only spend what you have available to spend and can pay off at the end of the month.

#3 Minimize your debt

Take out the minimum amount of student loans you need. Don’t use a credit card on things you don’t need. Save up for a big down payment on your next car purchase so your payments are lower and you’re able to make them on time. Keep it small so that it’s manageable and you can still pay your bills on time. Don’t take on excess debt. You’re in college, live like a college student now so you can live the way you want once you are debuted to the world.

#4 Keep an eye on your credit score

You can check out your credit score for free once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You can check it every three months by using each one once a year or you can check them all at once and compare (they may be slightly different). Watching your credit score will let you in on any changes that happen. Your credit score may go down some if you missed a credit card payment, majorly if you have unpaid medical bills, or drastically if your identity is stolen. On the plus side, if you’re managing your credit wisely you may see it gradually increase over time. And then you can credit yourself with the independence and security it brings!

Let’s Talk Credit Scores

12 Jan

Raysha Duncan, Purdue Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

Here at MyMoney our goal is financial literacy. We want to teach students and our readers how to be smarter with their money and that makes the topic of credit kind of taboo. You see, credit talks about your relationship with debt: how much of it you have currently, how much you’ve paid off, how good you are at paying back your debt, what kinds of debt you have. We don’t want you to be in debt, but we do want you to be informed. And, since the average college student graduates with at least $20k in student loan debt, you should know how that affects you.

Girl in airport; text overlay: Let's Talk Credit Scores

Here’s the basic breakdown of what makes up a credit score, via wikiHow:

Payment history — 35%. How often do you pay your bills on time? Late payments hurt your score.

Debt usage — 30%. How much debt do you have in relation to your overall limit? Low debt and high limits is what you’re after.

Credit age — 15%. How long have you been establishing your credit? The longer the better.

Account mix — 10%. How many accounts or lines of credit do you have open? The more the better.

Inquiries — 10%. How often do you apply for new credit? Too many inquiries can hurt your score.

These are all taken into consideration and then get applied to a scale, typically between 300 and 850. You want to aim to have at least a good credit score, usually between 700 and 749. Go here for a breakdown of what the different levels of credit scores mean.

Your credit score is important for your future financial and personal prospects. Say one day you want to buy a house; the easiest way to buy a home is to take out a mortgage, and while paying the balance in cash sounds nice, it’s just not feasible for most people. And to get a good rate on that mortgage, you need a good credit score. This is probably all you’ve ever heard on the subject, with the exact same example (because it’s a good example). Now, how do you make sure you have a good credit score? Or better yet, how do you keep from having a bad credit score?

#1 Pay your bills on time

Every single one of them. Every time they are due. While you’re in college you can practice with your cell phone,  utilities, and rent. Then, consider a credit card that you use for only very specific things (gas, perhaps) and pay that off on time, every time the payment is due. Once you’ve graduated, make sure you don’t default on your student loans (i.e. make your payments on time, every time).

#2 Budget your money

But…what does that have to do with credit? Everything. If you’re not budgeting your debts (e.g. car payment, rent, utilities, student loan payment), then you’ll fall behind on your payments and your credit will start creeping downhill. Remember that credit card I mentioned in #1? Don’t use it for unbudgeted expenses (with the exception of it being a serious crisis like emergency roadside assistance that’s not covered by your car insurance, not when you desperately need a latte). Only spend what you have available to spend and can pay off at the end of the month.

#3 Minimize your debt

Take out the minimum amount of student loans you need. Don’t use a credit card on things you don’t need. Save up for a big down payment on your next car purchase so your payments are lower and you’re able to make them on time. Keep it small so that it’s manageable and you can still pay your bills on time. Don’t take on excess debt. You’re in college, live like a college student now so you can live the way you want once you are debuted to the world.

#4 Keep an eye on your credit score

You can check out your credit score for free once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You can check it every three months by using each one once a year or you can check them all at once and compare (they may be slightly different). Watching your credit score will let you in on any changes that happen. Your credit score may go down some if you missed a credit card payment, majorly if you have unpaid medical bills, or drastically if your identity is stolen. On the plus side, if you’re managing your credit wisely you may see it gradually increase over time. And then you can credit yourself with the independence and security it brings!

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