Resources and Helpful Tips
Budgeting Tips and Resources
Why budget? Budgeting your money is important both while you're in school and after you graduate. As a student there are many financial matters to consider. These can range from how much money you will spend on groceries to how you plan to repay your student loans.
Helpful websites for budgeting: GradReady, Smart About Money, and Master Your Money at OppU are informative websites that allow you to create a profile that tracks your spending, gives advice for financial planning that works with your budget, and helps you figure out the best way to manage your debt. There are a variety of resources available to you and many of them are free. Don't be afraid to research different options to find the one that's best for you.
Starting a savings plan: To start a savings plan, try to "pay yourself first." As a student, this may seem difficult, but you can start small, such as saving $10 or $20 out of every paycheck. It may help to set it aside in a checking account that might be harder for you to withdraw or transfer from, such as an FCID-insured online savings account (which can take a day or two to withdraw your money). By "paying yourself first," you also have a small fund that you can use in case of emergencies. Having a credit card without a balance is also smart to have in case of an emergency.
Should I have a credit card? You've probably heard mixed advice about credit cards over the course of your college career. With proper management, credit cards can be a useful tool in your budget repertoire. However, if used as a main form of payment, they can often lead to over-spending, and therefore, added debt.
Putting payments on a credit card is not synonymous with debt. Credit card companies make money through interest, which means they charge you to borrow their money. If you pay off your credit card every month in-full, you will not have to pay any interest on the balance. When utilized in this way, a credit card can help you raise your credit score.
What is a credit score? Simply put, your credit score is a number lenders use to determine your capacity to repay a loan. It gives them an idea of how responsible you will be with their money. While you might not think it is important now, a high credit score means lower interest payments on auto loans, house loans, and other borrowed investments in the future.
When should I start building my credit score? It's better to start building your credit sooner rather than later. The smart way to start using your credit card is to charge something small to it, such as your monthly charge for your Netflix subscription, and pay off the balance as soon as it appears on your statement.
You should also know that there are other ways to build your credit score if you feel a credit card is not right for you. You can build your credit score slowly by not over-drafting from your checking account (not spending more money than you have in your account). Another way to increase your credit score is by paying monthly bills that are in your name, such as those for cable or your cell phone.
Additional resources to help with credit: To learn more about what your credit score is and why it's important to maintain a good credit score, click here. And, credit cards offer different interest levels (the lower the better) and different "rewards." The "Best Credit Cards for College Students 2017" can help you compare the advantages and disadvantages of different credit cards.
Being Loan Savvy
For many people, student loans are inevitable and can be confusing. Learning about your options and monitoring your loans now will better prepare you for the future.
Where can I find information about different types of loans? The official Federal Student Aid website has a lot of helpful information, including a breakdown of government loans, private loans, and their differences.
If you're wondering how much you've borrowed, or if you want to keep track of your total loan borrowing from FAFSA, you can find that information here - you will need to log on and enter your Social Security number and your FAFSA PIN. It is the secure, government website that administers your government loans.
The National Endowment for Financial Education developed an informative brochure, 40 Money Management Tips Every College Student Should Know, to help you build a healthy financial future. In addition to this brochure, the National Endowment for Financial Education also offers information on money-saving tips, financial calculators, impulse buying, overspending, retirement, boosting savings, and much more.
Another website, Smart About Money, allows you to create your own profile to gain access to their toolbox. You can then create an online budget, access The Beginners Guide to Financial Readiness, and follow other links for more infromation on debt management, life transitions, daily decisions, emergencies, and more.
To learn more about how to handle credit card debt, visit CreditCardDebt.org.
As noted above, GradReady is another great site with valuable information. The choices you make about how you pay for school have a long-term impact. Understanding your options and making smart decisions today will help you in the future.
MyMoney.gov lists "My Money Five," or the five building blocks for managing and growing your money. Keep these principles in mind as you make daily decisions and plan for your future goals: Earn, Save & Invest, Protect, Spend, and Borrow.
Viterbo University and its respective associates and employees cannot provide legal, accounting, or tax advice or services. All individuals have unique circumstances regarding their personal financial situations and should seek personal, professional, and expert advice based on their particular circumstances. Financial literacy resources are provided for informational purposes only.