The first thing you can do to prepare for your financial future is SAVE. Now that you’ve learned how to budget your hard earned money, it’s important that you also track your savings to prepare for expenses in the future. Even if you are just setting aside a few dollars each week or month, it will make a big difference in the long run.
In the short term, you can use your savings to help pay for planned purchases such as a spring break trip, a study abroad semester, or a new laptop. This will help reduce your chance of overspending or using a credit card to make these purchases. In the long term, saving is even more important for preparing for potential post-graduation expenses, such as student loan repayments, a new vehicle, a move to a new city, etc.
Another way to ensure your financial future is to be aware of your current financial situation. This includes regularly monitoring all of your accounts. By doing this, you are more likely to be aware of any errors or extra charges. This is also a great way to help protect yourself from identity theft.
If you have decided to use credit, you should also be sure to monitor your credit report. A credit report is a history of everything you are doing with your credit now and what you have done with it in the past. Your credit score is a mathematical representation of your credit report. Your credit score not only affects your ability to obtain credit and the terms and rates of that credit, but it can also potentially affect your ability to get a job or rent an apartment.
You can request your credit report at any time and you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three main credit bureaus per year. You can request your report by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling toll free at 877-322-8228. By annually monitoring your credit report, you will be able to protect your financial future by ensuring no errors are being reported, and you will develop a clear sense of your current financial situation.
Set Goals for Yourself
Setting financial goals is another important part of your financial life. Goals emphasize what you want to accomplish and help you focus your efforts. Setting goals can help you turn your dreams to reality, whether it’s buying that car you’ve always wanted, paying down your debt, or buying a home.
The goals you set should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. In other words: SMART. Be sure to write down as many details as you can for each aspect of your SMART goals. Applying the SMART approach will help you become more successful in reaching these goals.
Here is an example of a SMART goal:
SPECIFIC: “I will save $6,000 for a down payment on a new car when I graduate college.”
MEASURABLE: “I will allocate $250 per month to my savings for my down payment.”
ACHIEVABLE: “I can achieve this if I cut back on my entertainment expenses, my cable TV and my cell phone plan.”
REALISTIC: “Instead of buying books or movies I will use my local library and attend free events.”
TIMELY: “I will have enough money for the down payment in 24 months when I graduate.”