The biggest credit news this week is all about students’ finances during and after college, and how poor choices made during freshman year can carry over into many years after graduation.
Every so often, the Federal Reserve releases a report full of doom and gloom numbers. The stock market may take a hit that day, and many will talk about uncertainty in the economy. The newest report from the Fed wasn’t one of those, luckily.
As new Credit.com contributor Bob Sullivan reports, total household debt fell to its lowest level in 7 years, with delinquencies more than 90 days late falling to the lowest level since 2008.
The downside to this otherwise cheery report from the Fed is that young consumers — those 18 to 29 — are shunning car loans, as they’re already too mired in student loan debt. While this isn’t of great concern for their debt — after all, they are making a good choice to not become totally overwhelmed with loans — it could be a problem for the economy at large.
While the CARD Act made it more difficult for college freshmen to get a credit card, that doesn’t mean co-eds have been cut off by credit card issuers.
There are a few simple things college students should consider before they get a credit card. First, remember that just because you have the credit, doesn’t mean you have to use it. Keeping a balance below 20% of your total limit will help keep your credit score high. Second, keep an eye on your payment date to make sure you aren’t charged any late fees. And lastly, remember that maintaining good credit can help you achieve other financial goals down the road, so don’t be scared, just be responsible.
One of the biggest adjustments college students need to make is budgeting for themselves. It’s no surprise that getting a lump sum of financial aid at the beginning of the semester doesn’t guarantee that it will last all the way to finals. After all, college students are notoriously good at binging.
Allison Martin gives some great tips for creating your own budget, plus some ideas on how to adjust your budget if you realize you’ve been spending too much. The key to making sure your finals week diet isn’t just Ramen noodle cups is to be consistent.