We all know what it’s like to be busy. Whether you’re taking classes or working a 9-to-5, it’s difficult to take a look at your finances when you have so many other things to worry about. Between assignments, long projects, tests, and reviews, it’s understandable that your money issues take a back seat to the things you have to do to make more of it!
That’s why today I’m glad to offer up a few quick financial wins that you can do right now. They don’t take a lot of time, less than half an hour, and they have a big impact on your finances. All of them are free, so they won’t cost you anything, and if you do only one of the things on the list, you’ll have put yourself on the right path. You don’t have to do them all, just pick one.
Check Your Credit History & Score
The single most valuable thing you can do for your finances is to check your credit history and perhaps your score. Identity theft, while not as common as the news would like you to think, is more common than we’d like to admit. It’s important, especially when you’re young, to check your credit history for fraud as well as inaccuracies. Whenever you go out to get a loan to buy a car or perhaps a house, you don’t have to discover errors or identity theft when you’re shopping for interest rates.
Never pay for a credit report, you can get it free by government mandate at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can get a copy from all three bureaus every 12 months, I like to separate my reports every four months so I can get fresh information. If you want to get your credit score, it’ll be a little trickier because you’ll need to sign up for a trial service to see your free FICO credit scores but you can cancel the service immediately. If you want to avoid the hassle of canceling, you can always go with a free service like Credit Karma.
Boost Your Savings
I know it’s hard to save money when you’re in college but if you do, give them a boost by going with a high yield savings account at an online bank like ING Direct. Regular savings accounts earn you practically nothing, whereas an online savings account will give you at least a percent and a half right now.
Online banks are very streamlined right now, you can open a bank account in probably fifteen minutes if you have all the paperwork. It’ll take a few days for the accounts to link up but once they do, you’ll be glad you took the time.
Start An Emergency Fund
You’ll never know when a disaster will strike and with the economy in such a funk lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more emergencies crop up. That’s why it’s important to put a little away into an emergency fund. Emergency funds are funds you put aside to pay for emergencies (easy right?) so that you don’t turn to credit cards or other dangerous short term loans. Emergency funds don’t have to be huge, they can be just a couple dollars, but it’s important you start that fund so that you can weather the disasters.
These are just three very quick wins you can do right now that don’t cost you a penny and could save your butt down the road.
I have always meant to open one of the higher-yielding savings accounts. ING always seems to have good rates.
Question: Do the online banks function much differently than physical ones? Is there any way I can get my money from an ATM without paying a fee?
ING has a checking account as well, which comes with a debit card that will let you get cash from your account using any ATM on the Allpoint network – which is actually quite a lot of ATMs! (Including all of the ATMs in 7Elevens!) I have both the savings and checking account, and when I need cash I just look for a 7Eleven to use my debit card.
But if you just get the savings account, you’ll have to link it to a checking account at a physical bank and move your money electronically between the two accounts. Some people see this as an advantage: you can’t just raid your saving account for cash, you have to wait a few days and think about what you’re getting the money out for. Food for thought.
I did a little bit of planning for college before I started and begin throwing the money I made during the summer into an ING savings account. That way when I ran out of money half way through my freshman year I had additional funds available.
Britney Mason says
One of the easiest ways to boost savings can be to reduce the amount of money you spend. Like you stated above, it’s hard to save in college. It can be so easy to go into the student union or bookstore and spend everything you have on some supplies.
At bookrenter.com, we help college students to save money. Renting textbooks is an easy, cheap way to get what you need for school. Our turnaround is quick and our textbooks are high-quality…just like buying them at the school bookstore.
Bookrenter Coupon says
Renting textbooks can definitely save you some money each term. One thing to be sure of is that you order your books in advance from the start of the term. I have made the mistake of not ordering my books on time and was forced to pay high costs because I couldn’t wait for the shipping time.
Thanks for the great information and well written post!
I used to photocopy some chapters from textbook. No doubt it might infringe copyright, somehow i wont photocopy the whole book, just some chapters from various books and combine the best resources and make into my own textbook.