Adulting 101: Managing Your Money

May 2, 2016

I just came back from my alumni weekend at UCSB and as I was walking around campus with my boyfriend and reminiscing about the amazing times we had, he said, “I remember when I walked here.  I signed up for a credit card.  I wish someone taught me about money when I was in college.” Hence, what we’re going to be talking about right now.

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Now, I’m not a financial advisor by any means.. but these are things that can help you out a LOT in the long run if you practice these tips. These tips aren’t just for people in college, they’re for everyone.

  1. Don’t spend more than what you make. It sounds really reasonable, but once you get into the real world, it’s a lot harder than it sounds.  Sometimes things come up and you’re going to drain your bank account money to fix your car or go to the doctor when you really need to.
  2. SAVE. Yes, I know that our parents drill this into our heads almost every time they see us, but this is important. Once you get your paycheck just put 10% of it away into your savings account.  If 10% is too much, then just put whatever you can away, even if it’s one dollar.  Over time, you’ll have a decent amount of money tucked away and when emergencies arise, you won’t be draining the bank account to cover it.
  3. Track your money. Watch where it goes.  Since no one really pays with cash anymore, it’s hard to see your money fly away until you get that notice from the bank that you’re under the limit that you’ve set for yourself or getting a fat “declined” when you swipe the credit card.  It might be painful, but sit down and see how much you spend on food and gas and going out with friends and see where you can minimize the spending.  Maybe instead of going out on Fridays AND Saturdays, you can just pick one day?

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If you’re already drowning in credit card debt, then it’s not over yet.  I know that it may seem like it, but there really are other options out there designed to help people who have credit card debt.  Upstart is the one that I’ve heard the most about and was basically invented by people who used to work at Google, whose main goal was to help people with credit card debt.

They give you a loan of however much you need so you can pay off all your cards and then you’ll pay the loan back with one easy payment a month, but with a much lower interest rate than the credit cards.  There is a starting fee, but it’s taken right out of the loan so you don’t have to give money up front.  You have a choice to pay off your loan in 3 years with a lower interest rate but a higher monthly payment or to pay it off in 5 years with a lower monthly payment but a higher interest rate.

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It may sound like a lot, but some people take much longer to pay off their cards depending on how much their income is and how much debt they have.

If you’re one of those people who are struggling, trust me you’re not alone. These programs exist because there are people who need them. So take this newfound knowledge and put them into practice and start fresh!!