College years are the time when many people establish financial habits that will carry them for the rest of their lives. It’s important to take the time while you’re young to establish a solid foundation of financial health and set yourself up for a lifetime of success.
Pay attention to these items to get off on the right financial foot:
- Spending plan: Know how much you’re making and how much you’re spending. Create a workable monthly spending plan that balances income, loans, and gifts with anticipated expenses. Prioritize managing your expenses so you have money to put away each month for unexpected expenses and emergencies. You can even transfer the funds automatically so you won’t be tempted to spend it.
- Records: Use an app to track expenses or monitor expenses online. Tracking expenses will help you see where your money is going and adjust your spending as needed. Also, remember to review your financial statements every month.
- Credit cards: Commit to paying credit card bills in full and on time each month. Using credit wisely teaches you how to live within your means while creating a positive credit record that could help when buying a car, renting an apartment, obtaining insurance, and even landing a job. However, irresponsible credit card use can cause long-term damage and can cost you a ton in interest fees over time.
- Organization: Keep all financial records, bills, and account statements in one location. This will help you pay bills on time, avoid late fees, and keep an unblemished credit score.
- Personal information: Learn about the different forms of identity theft, the kinds of personal information you need to protect, and how to protect information—even, and especially, from friends and roommates. Learn the pitfalls of careless use of social media.