BY ROD GRIFFIN
Understanding money basics means not having to learn financial lessons the hard way. It's important that we reach students early, before they start making decisions about student loans, credit cards, buying a car and renting an apartment. Here are some tips to launch a successful financial future:
LEARN CREDIT CARD BASICS:
Before leveraging the benefits of a credit card, understand the terms and conditions and the potential impact it can have on your credit score. Read the paperwork thoroughly and ask a parent or friend to help you with anything you don't understand. Only use credit for an amount you can pay off entirely each statement. Interest rates are high, so you don't want to be paying more for what you purchase.
STUDY STUDENT LOAN REQUIREMENTS:
Study the different types of student loans available, and then run the numbers. Before borrowing a dime, figure out what your payments are actually likely to be, and make sure you can truly afford to borrow without putting other financial necessities at risk.
OPEN A CHECKING ACCOUNT:
You can open a checking account by filling out an application online or in person, usually in just a few minutes, as long as you have the necessary documentation banks require. The bank will issue you a debit card, allowing you to pay for items using funds from your account. Monitor the flow of funds by checking your account online frequently.
MONITOR CREDIT SCORES:
There are three national credit bureaus that may have a credit report file for you once you start using credit. What's in your file is what is used to calculate a credit score that lenders look at to determine if you're a good candidate for credit. You can obtain a free credit report annually at annualcreditreport.com. If you're responsible for your cell phone bill and utility bills, consider using Experian Boost — a free online tool — to add these accounts to your Experian credit file and potentially increase your credit score instantly. A consistent history of on-time payments may increase your credit score.
Budget: Learning to budget is essential, teaching you to set goals, live within your means and manage your money responsibly. Create a spreadsheet and review it on an ongoing basis.
USE NEW TECH TOOLS:
Unfortunately, the topic of money management doesn't always appeal to young people. Only 38 percent of those surveyed find personal finance topics interesting. Luckily, tech-driven tools like apps and YouTube tutorials are making financial education more interesting and accessible to generation Z. •
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rod Griffin is director of public education for Experian ( experianplc.com).