In high school, turning 18 represents the pinnacle of all your desires; but like most anticipated dates, once reached they often tend to disappoint. The rude awakening that arrives after — usually by the time you’re in college — is that “adulting” almost always comes down to either owing money or needing money. Here’s three ways on how to go about fixing that without getting into pie chart mumbo-jumbo.
1. Set yourself a budget
Start by setting up an Excel spreadsheet. On that spreadsheet you can make separate columns for payment due dates, the type of bill and the amount due. If you’re sharing bills with family members or roommates, separate those payments before the total.
Now that you have organized all that economic chaos, work on your payment schedule. Separate all your payments down to two dates each month. If you’re confident in your budget, then set up automatic bill payments, that way you won’t need to worry about missing a due date.
Pro-Tip: After all the bills have come out of your budget, try separating at least 10 percent of the remaining money into savings. Then get some groceries.
2. Get a secured credit card
If you haven’t already had to get a loan, buy a car or move into your own place, you eventually will. At times like these, having good credit is essential.
A secured credit card is a great way to start. They’re kind of like debit cards, except they actively work towards gaining you credit points. Usually, secured credit cards require a small down-payment before awarding you a maximum spending limit.
The trick is to only use 1 to 9 percent of your maximum, then pay it off on time. After a while your maximum is increased and if you stick to it, you’ll build a credit score to reckon with.
3. Sign up for a credit monitoring service
The biggest advantage to signing up for a credit monitoring system is being able to track whether the financial decisions you’re making are helping you or not.
Let’s say you went to AT&T and bought a new iPhone with a two-year contract. Before being approved, your credit was checked. Since then you’ve made all of your payments on time, besides maybe once or twice.
All of these things leave a credit history. Even that one parking ticket that got sent to collections that one time. All of it leaves a trail and being able to monitor them is key in keeping, or working towards a good credit score. Sites like Credit Karma are free and they offer very good tips as well as secured credit cards.
None of this may seem like a big deal right now but sooner or later you’ll start to realize how essential they are. In any case, if you’ve been failing at the whole adult thing lately, applying any of the above should award you at least 20 extra credit points.
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