Wouldn’t it have been nice to have a class in high school that taught us how to get it together? Well I didn’t, but there are a few things we can do to make our adult lives a little easier.
Build your credit. Look at your credit report and pay the things that may be lowering your number. The FTC recommends going to annualcreditreport.com to obtain a free copy. If you’re just getting started and have no credit, get a secured credit card and pay off the balance. You’ll put down a deposit as collateral on this type of card and once you prove yourself as a reliable cardholder, the company will typically raise your line of credit. This Secured MasterCard from Capital One starts with a deposit as low as $49, and gives you a credit line of $200 with no annual fee. The Discover It Secured card gives you a credit line equal to your initial deposit. So, $200 down gets you a $200 line of credit, with no annual fee. These cards tend to have high interest, so keep the balances paid down and avoid only making minimum monthly payments.
Set a budget. Don’t spend more than you make. A 2017 survey from CareerBuilder found that 78% of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck. Budgeting can break that vicious cycle and put you on the path to saving money throughout the month, rather than spending it all as soon as you get your check. WalletHub compiled a list of the best free budget templates from around the web.
Save once your budget starts working for you. The first time I had money left over from my paycheck at the end of the week, my instinct was to celebrate with expensive cake and a trip to the movies but spending your cash surplus as soon as it’s available is counterproductive. Let it chill in your account, where it can be used for an unforeseen expense, or open a savings account at your bank or credit union. Once you get enough saved up, you can invest it or finally take that dream vacation. The world is your oyster.
Do your taxes online with software, so you know the process. Nerdwallet did a study that found half of Americans don’t know their tax bracket. TurboTax walks you through doing your taxes and asks you all the pertinent information. It is free to use, if your taxes are simple and don’t require itemized deductions or any of the schedule forms. If your taxes start to become more complex, you’ll have to pay for the service. H&R Block’s service claims to offer more free situations than their major competitor. TurboTax makes you use a paid upgrade if you have a Student Loan Interest Deduction, but H&R Block does not.
Water yourself. I know it may sound cheesy, but don’t only focus on your wealth. Your health is vital to your wellbeing, too. Drink water and soak up vitamin D in the form of sunshine so you feel like dealing with your adult money matters.