I started Knowing Your Worth to demystify the world of money and personal finance and thought what better way to do that than to share what I wish I knew when I was in college. Here are the 6 things I wish I knew about money when I was in college.
#1 Start Now
When in college and even many years after it can seem like we don’t have enough money to save. What’s the point? It feels like it won’t make a difference. Due to the 8th wonder of the world, compound interest, even small amounts of savings and investments can add up and multiply! Also, understanding our personal finances and getting in the habit of saving and budgeting will be SUPER helpful once you graduate and have your own salary and expenses.
#2 Save for a Rainy Day
It’s so important to have a buffer for unexpected expenses and emergencies. If something happens and we don’t have money saved up, we will have to take out credit card debt which is very expensive (I’ll get into this in #5). Not sure where to start when it comes to a rainy day fund? Here’s how to set one up.
#3 Budget Are Our Friends!
Budgets get a very bad rep but they are one of the most powerful financial tools you can master. Budgets are really just a way of understanding what’s coming in and what’s going out so you can allocate the money you have in the ways that will make you the happiest. It’s all about planning so you can do and have everything you truly want.
#4 Build Credit Early
We aren’t born with a perfect credit score. We have to build it up and the sooner we start, the better off we are! If you are able to open a credit card (read #5!) before doing so. This is a great way to build your credit if you can manage it effectively. If you aren’t able to open a credit card, you can get a secured credit card, put your name as a user on your parents account (just make sure they pay their bills on time), or put your name on a utility bill. Being the account holder on a utility bill (if you pay your bills on time) is a great way to build credit!
#5 Be Weary of Credit Cards
If you don’t pay your credit card balance in full each month, credit cards are the most expensive debt out there. In order to hold a balance, you have to pay interest to the credit card companies, which can be as high as 20-30%. That’s pricey! Think of interest on credit card debt as wasted money. If you aren’t able to pay the interest, that just builds your balance and it can spiral out of control. Credit cards are not free money.
#6 Know Your Worth & Ask for It!
I remember when I got my first internship and then job. I felt so lucky that someone would want to hire me. There was no way I was going to try to negotiate my salary. Looking back, I wish I had at least tried! The worst that can happen is that they say no. I’ve never heard of anyone losing a job offer because they tried to negotiate. Negotiating early in your career is very important because of #1 on my list. Salary increases and bonuses are often calculated as a percentage of your current base salary. A salary of $500 more doesn’t seem like a lot but compounded with raises and bonuses it can make a huge difference!