Few schools offer money management training to students. However, with average student debt at over $20,000, coupled with credit card debt, mortgages and car loans, these money skills are necessary to keep yourself financially ahead. Beef up your money management skills and you'll be in a better position to weather any financial storms.
Budgeting allows you to manage your finances correctly by paying attention to what goes out and what comes in. If you budget, you know what you can and cannot afford. Track your expenses in different categories and then plan how much to spend in each category each month. This task becomes easier if you use a spreadsheet or budgeting software program. If you're trying to reduce debt or free up more money for savings, look for areas where you can reduce costs.
Credit is a necessary evil. You'll need a good credit score to get a mortgage, credit card or car loan. Some employers even check your credit report before hiring you. Consumers have to understand the true costs of using credit. Since you pay interest on the amount of money you spend, any item you purchase with a credit card actually costs more than the purchase price unless you pay the credit card bill in full each month. Paying your bills on time and keeping a low debt-to-credit ratio will help improve your credit score.
When you have debt under control, start socking away extra money. Save first for an emergency fund that allows you to cover expenses for at least six months, should you lose your job or become unable to work. You should also be saving money for your retirement and your child's education.
Investing for the Future
Saving money is not enough. You need to invest your money to see greater returns. Learn how to invest your money. For example, learn how to manage risk to get the highest returns while keeping your money as safe as possible. You'll also want to know how to choose a good investment, based on a company or fund's performance. While investing is always a bit risky, you can decrease the risk by understanding how the market works.
Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.