Last time we talked about starting out your financial future when embarking on adulthood. This is a crucial time in anyone’s life because the decisions that you make during early adulthood can really make or break your future financially. We broke down the two biggies in the last article: cash and credit. In this article, we are going to dive into your credit score and debit cards. So let’s jump in!
Benefits of Increasing Your Credit Score
If you are putting things on credit and not paying off your monthly balance, then you are directly affecting your credit score NEGATIVELY. This is the opposite of what you want to do because your credit score can impact more than you think it can.
On the flip side, if you pay your credit card off every month, you are only INCREASING your credit score. The bonus here is that the higher your credit score, the more you qualify for big purchases in the future. Two of these biggies are cars and houses, with a smaller third possibility at business loans and/or credit cards to start a business.
Some employers and rental companies even look at your credit score as an indicator of how trustworthy you are. If you have a higher credit score, then you could land the coveted job over somebody whose credit score may not be as high as yours, because it shows you are reliable. When it comes to renting an apartment or house, your credit is checked to show your reliability also. If you have a low credit score, then it could affect your ability to find decent housing.
So the takeaway here is that credit is much more important than the immediate gratification if affords. Just keep that in mind every time you choose to use your card.
As previously mentioned, the last study showed that 85% of college students regularly use a debit card for purchases. This is because it is much easier to get their hands on now, as opposed to a credit card. Using a debit card still assists with teaching about finances. Sometimes, the hard way!
What I mean by this is that most college students don’t know how to balance their checkbooks. If your checkbook isn’t balanced, then you really have NO idea how much money you have in your account. Therefore, you don’t know how much available cash you have spend with your debit card. Quite frequently, students find this out the hard way when they go to purchase something and are declined.
There is almost nothing more embarrassing that being declined in the middle of a busy store or in front of your friends. But it teaches a humbling lesson. Learning to balance your checkbook is an important skill that you will use for years to come. I know that I personally still balance mine regularly. I am not in the boat where I don’t have to worry about it yet.
The earlier you learn to do this, the better off you will be in the future. It takes a few minutes at most, if you do it at least weekly, but it can keep you in the green and out of the red.
If you don’t think that you will be able to pay off a purchase made on your credit card when the statement comes in, then you should be using your debit card and/or cash. You can always pay for something using multiple mediums, so just keep that in mind in situations of larger purchases.
It is always good to diversify your portfolio, and I don’t just mean with work. When it comes to your purchasing power, diversify how you pay for things. Cash is still king, but it doesn’t get you anywhere when you need to establish credit for long term credit worthiness and reliability. So use it, but also use your debit card and combine it with a credit card when possible.
Remember to only use the credit card if you are going to be able to pay it off in full though. Using one to pay for things like gas and groceries, is usually the best way to go when you are starting out. This is so that you aren’t making huge purchases that you don’t have the cash to pay off when the bill comes in.
By diversifying your purchasing power portfolio, you are increasing your chances of building a strong financial future without debt.
What tips and tricks did you use to boost your financial future when you were first starting out in the world of financial independence?