Preparing to go off to college is one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. This is a changeover period in which living at home with the financial and emotional support of parents is replaced with required self-reliance. Yet that safety net still often exists in one form or another. Many college students are not shy about making visits back to the family home during breaks, long weekends, or simply at random.
While the planning of this journey off to college often includes the purchase of new household appliances and living necessities, preparations for a Stanford interview, and a few new pieces of clothing, there are a number of other resources that college students will require once they finally do arrive on campus. Indeed, learning these lessons ahead of time is crucial for success, as well as in fielding any oddball questions that may come up in the interview process itself. Many college counselors will suggest practicing for these types of asks during the interview process because college admissions teams love to shake up the process and learn about what lies beneath the façade and brave face that all applicants put on in order to present themselves in the best light possible.
Get an emergency credit card.
A credit card is a great way to begin building a credit history. Your credit score is a priority when applying for new loans in the future, and at 18, you can apply for and secure your very own card. Utilizing this once a month for groceries and then paying off the expense in full is a great way to start building credit the smart way. While you will want to leverage the buying power of your credit card sparingly, it’s important to keep this mostly clear for emergency use.
College students typically haven’t had the same time that professionals have enjoyed creating emergency funding designed to cover a blown tire, hospital visit, or last-minute flight to see a relative in need. The emergency credit card can provide cover for these needs in a pinch for college students who are constantly on the go and have, as a result, prioritized education over expansive working hours to gain cash in the short term.
This habit will come in handy later down the road when you need to use an auto loan calculator to work out down payment requirements and repayment schedules on the loan terms that a lender offers you. Your credit score unlocks greater borrowing power and better rates for the future, so starting early is a must.
Invest with a no-cost brokerage account.
Zero-cost accounts that give you access to the stock market are in abundance these days. From Robinhood and eToro to other more established financial institutions, trading fee-free is now the norm, and it means that you should be investing already. Once you’re old enough to start saving with stock market holdings, every minute that you wait to open an account is a minute wasted. The power of time in relation to earning potential and monetary gains is enormous. The longer your cash sits invested in great companies the better your bottom line will look when you finally do take out the money to make a purchase—a home, for example.
Investing is a must for everyone, and college students should start putting away some of their free cash with the help of ETFs or index funds as soon as possible in order to take advantage of the market’s ability to fight back against inflation and capital depreciation processes.
With these financial tools at your side, you’ll be ready to take on the world!