Congrats! You survived finals week and made it to semester break. If you happen to have a lot of free time on your hands over the next three weeks, here are five ways you can improve your financial status before next semester begins.
1. Create a Budget
Never had a budget before? The new year is a great time to start one! Or, if you already have a budget but haven’t looked it over in awhile, consider updating it and try to cut back on certain “want” categories such as entertainment, eating out, and clothes. If you’re not sure where to start, come in and see us!
2. Check your Credit Report and Score
Check out freecreditreport.com to review your credit report. You’ll want to make sure that everything is accurate and report any mistakes. To find your credit score, check with your credit card company to see if they offer your credit score for free. If not, you can look up your score through Discover.com or Mint.com.
3. Apply for a Credit Card
Disclaimer: this is only advised for students who currently have and stick to a budget and are confident they can pay off their balance in full each month. Responsible use of a credit card is a great way to build a high credit score, which is important when applying for future loans. We strongly suggest only using your card for small purchases, such as gas or groceries, that way it’s easy to pay off each month.
4. Write Down Financial Goals
If you’ve been considering going on a trip next summer, or anticipate needing a new car within the next few years, now is the time to start writing down financial goals. You’ll need to know how much your goal will cost and when you want to achieve it-then you can determine how much you’ll need to save each month. Consider opening a separate bank account to help make it easier to save.
5. Give Your Wallet a Vacation, Too
Christmas vacation is a great time to unwind and recharge between semesters. Try doing the same for your bank account! If you’re going home, take advantage of free home cooked meals. Instead of going out to the movies or bars, invite your hometown friends over for a couple nights in. If you get money for Christmas, use some of it to pay off any credit card debt you might have or put it in savings.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the SMMC!
Post written by Amanda Owens, SMMC Program Assistant