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Build Your Credit Sooner Rather Than Later

What School Never Taught You

Kai+Stachowiak
Kai Stachowiak

Kai Stachowiak

Kai Stachowiak

Shawntae Teague, Writer

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In high school, students are taught a variety of topics and facts that truthfully have no practical use in the real world.

You may not know how taxes work, but thank goodness you’ve got the Pythagorean theorem burned into your memory. You may break into a cold sweat when you think about paying bills, but hey, at least you know that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

A huge part of becoming a functioning human adult is becoming financially efficient, and with that comes the daunting credit score drama. If you have a bad credit score, things you’ll encounter in the future, like buying a car, getting a loan (and later paying it off), or buying a house, will be difficult to accomplish.

If that seems too far off to matter right now, your credit can also play a part in determining the interest rate for your student loans.

To get a jump on building that credit score, here are some tips.

 

Remember, No Credit = Bad Credit

A mistake one may make when thinking of credit is assuming that since you have no negative history of debts, there isn’t much to worry about.

Insurance companies, landlords, employers, as well as utility services may look at your credit score to evaluate your creditworthiness as a borrower.

Having a good credit score early can help you save on basic things like insurance and energy bills, renting an apartment after college, and landing a dream job.

 

Start Building Credit

There are a few ways to begin building credit:

1. Utilize a student credit card

A common misconception is that no good can come of having a credit card.

  • Lots of companies have credit cards designed to be optimized for student use. The best thing to do is go over your options and determine what specific card is best for you.
  • Once you have a card, spend wisely. Small occasional purchases help put a balance on the card, without building up a difficult amount to pay off each month. If you don’t have the money in the bank, don’t spend that dough.
  • Don’t go over your monthly maximum, but don’t just leave the plastic in your pocket.
  • Pay the balance off each month and on time. Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score. With a job and smart spending, paying the bill on time should be simple
  • Lastly, own one card at a time. If you apply for multiple cards, you’re building up too much debt too quickly. Also, those bills could get away from you, unless you’re rolling in dough.

2. Consistently pay other bills

Other bills you may have, such as phone and internet, traffic fines, or utilities, can all contribute to the health or detriment of your credit. Paying those babies on time consistently is key.

 

Aside from credit on its own, to be a functioning human adult, it is smart to learn how to handle your money efficiently. Mint is a very helpful money-managing app that you may want to utilize.

More info and resources:

7 Ways to Build Your Credit Score Without a Credit Card

10 Healthy Ways to Build Credit

The Experts: The Best Financial Advice for Young People Starting Out – Wall Street Journal

15 Money Management Tips for College Students – U.S. News

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Build Your Credit Sooner Rather Than Later