The time has come to start thinking about resolutions to make for 2012. Aside from studying more, getting better grades and skipping fewer early morning lectures, college students should give some serious thought to adding a few personal finance-related resolutions to the list. Yes, this means you! Why? Because it is never too early to start preparing for your financial future! In this shaky economy, it seems like nothing can be counted on anymore. Which is why you have to look out for number 1! It`s time to pick a few realistic, manageable financial goals so that going into 2012 you will be taking your first fledgling steps towards a fabulous, financially independent future!
Here are two super easy things you can do starting January 1 or whenever:
Lay off your credit cards.
Do you have some plastic in your wallet? If yes, then good for you! That means that you have already begun establishing your credit history. A good credit history is essential to have when you apply for things like car loans, mortgages or even additional credit cards. Provided that you haven`t managed to dig yourself into debt with your current card or cards, it`s a great thing that you began to prove your creditworthiness so young.
However if you have them, stop using them. Well, don’t stop using them altogether but challenge yourself to only pull them out once in a while and only use them for small purchases that you know you will be able to afford to pay off at the end of the month. This will make sure that you don`t spend money you don`t actually have, which is easy to do with a credit card. It also can prevent you from sinking into debt. You probably already have a lot of debt from loans and stuff already, right? Well, don`t make it worse! If you already have some credit card debt, don`t carry your card with you anywhere (to avoid the temptation of using it) until you pay the outstanding balance off.
Also, there have been studies that have revealed that people spend differently when they charge purchases onto plastic. Here`s an example: fast food giant McDonald`s released data in 2010 which revealed that the average transaction amount for customers paying with cash to be about $4.50. When the customers used plastic to pay however, the average transaction cost rose to over $7!
So try to get into the habit of using cash to pay for things if you aren`t already doing so. Parting with actual money makes you think more carefully about how much you are spending and why.
Start A Savings Account And Add To It As Often As You Can
If you do not already have a savings account in your own name, get yourself to your local bank ASAP and sign up for one. While interest rates totally stink at the moment, you should still cultivate the habit of socking as much money away as you can whenever you have the opportunity to do so. Chances are that you don`t have a ton of extra cash while in college, but if you get monetary gifts from relatives for things like holidays, birthdays and graduation, put a portion of it away into your savings account.
If you have a part-time job while you are in school, get used to putting a little away from every single one of your paychecks until it becomes second nature. Retirement may feel like a long way away - and it is. But the sooner you start saving, the more work your money will be able to do for you. Ask your parents for advice!
Finally, the truth about resolutions is that most of us break them almost as soon as we make them. That`s why it`s important to make your resolutions realistic so that they are easier to stick to. While you don`t have to wait until January 1 to make these small financial changes, the New Year does provide an excellent opportunity for a fresh start. Happy 2012!