Adulthood. You’ve waited your whole life for it – that beautiful time when you are finally free to make your own decisions and pursue the future you want. But while all that may sound exciting, adulting also comes with some not-so-thrilling responsibilities. One of the most important ones is managing money – and decreasing your dependence on Bank of Mom. Or Bank of Dad. Or Bank of Mom and Dad (if they’ve merged like so many banks today).
The good news is that if you take a few smart steps now, you can be on the path to the financial future you want. Here are 5 such steps to help you get started:
- Build credit. With the high cost of college, cars, and houses, very few people can afford to buy things in cash. That’s why it’s so important to establish credit when you’re young. With strong credit, you can borrow the money you need to reach your goals and get lower rates that will save you money. To start building your credit, apply for a student or department store credit card. Then use it to make small purchases and pay off the balance every month.
- Get in the habit of saving. Not all habits are bad or unhealthy. The habit of saving money, for example, is really healthy. To get into that habit, set aside money from every paycheck and put it in a savings account. Then, leave your savings alone to grow.
- Open a checking account. Being an adult means paying bills. If you have a checking account in your own name, paying bills is easy. You can also sign up for direct deposit to allow your employer to automatically deposit money in your checking account each pay period, saving you time and helping you get your money faster.
- Build an emergency saving fund. As every adult knows, life is full of unexpected expenses – car repairs, medical bills, lost or broken cellphones. One way to prepare for them is to build an emergency savings fund. Then, when expenses come up, you’ll have a way to pay for them.
- Save for retirement. When you’re still in school or beginning your career, retirement may seem like a long way away. However, if you start saving for it while you’re young, you can make it happen sooner. If your employer offers a retirement plan, start contributing to it. If not, consider opening a Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
If you’ve read this financial article, you’re already acting like an adult. Now, up your adulting game by taking these 5 steps today.