1. READ, RESEARCH, REPEAT
Start early! Get to know some parts of adult-ing before you have to go through them first-hand. For example, if you don't do your taxes on your own yet, the next time that you fill them out; ask questions, do your research and use your resources to understand the process. This will make doing them on your own so much easier when the time comes. There are free services like TurboTax and H&R Block that publish tons of blog content for you to easily navigate how taxation works. And if you are looking for other easy-to-consume financial literacy content, check out The Financial Diet on YouTube or read their blog here. Staying ahead of financial and economical news can also help you stay in the loop about what’s going on and the latest trends on managing your money effectively.
2. GET A CREDIT CARD
Looking to build your credit score? Well, look no further than a credit card. Chances are, you have some kind of credit history already if you have student loans in your name. However, one way to actively work to boost your credit score is by owning a credit card. Only 30% of Generation Z have one. This is not to say that just simply owning one will boost your credit score. It is how you use it that will make all the difference. Don't get too crazy and go on a shopping spree! Having a credit card is a massive responsibility and is very different from having a debit card or an ATM card. However, just like a debit card, it is imperative that you keep track of your expenses. A general rule of thumb is to keep spending below 30% of your preset credit limit. People with excellent credit scores save money down the line from not having to make interest payments on loans.
3. START SAVING TODAY, NOT TOMORROW
Save for your future by investing in yourself now. If you are planning to move out of your parents' house or go on a long trip, it is your savings that will get you there. This means each week or month, putting away a certain amount of money, that is not to be touched until your goal is met. It will be tempting to take a little out once in a while, but commitment is key. The more you stay on track of your goals, the easier it will be to practice saving in the future. If you’re not planning on going on a trip or saving up for something special then start an emergency fund! The average Generation Z student has about $14,700 of debt. This is why having an emergency fund can be a life-saver. This type of saving account should only be tapped into for an emergency. Investing in stocks or other similar avenues can also be a great investment for the future, but be sure to always have a separate stash stored away in a savings account, preferably one that gains interest. Plus, watching your savings or investments grow can be satisfying and encourage you to want to save more.
4. CREATE A PLAN FOR SUCCESS
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years? Ask yourself these questions now so that you can plan for your future. You may not have all of the answers and that is okay. There are many different paths in life. However, thinking about these things now can make it easier for when the time does come that you decide to open a restaurant or retire. Did you know that only 3 out of 10 millennials have a retirement plan? Opening up an IRA early can lead you to early retirement. Another way to start planning for your financial future is with a budgeting spreadsheet. List out all of your income and expenses then refer back to it from time to time, to learn how you can manage your money and control spending. Feel free to make adjustments now and then based on your current wants and needs.
5. CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF
Don’t just take it from me, there are a lot of resources out there to help you. Always check your sources to make sure they’re credible before making big financial decisions. Some of the best sources of information can come from right at home from your family or friends. But, be sure to always do your research before making a decision. What works for someone else, may not work for you. Every person's financial history tells a different story.