Archive for August 2019

How to Win at Saving for College

The estimated cost of putting a newborn through public college 18 years from now is nearly equivalent to buying a median-priced home today for all cash. Saving that much, especially for more than one child, is impossible for most families. Nobody wants their children to start their adult lives stuck with a crippling amount of student debt. We aren’t told how to begin and it’s often hard to find any room in the budget, particularly when you’re already paying a mortgage (or rent), child care, health insurance — and maybe even a student loan of your own.

Who Should Save?

If you can afford to save something, you should — every little bit can help.  

Don’t think about saving for your child’s future college education if you currently have a pile of high-interest credit-card debt or don’t have any money set aside in an emergency fund. Deal with that first.  

Everyone else who can afford to save something should. 

The debatable part of this question is how to prioritize saving for your own retirement versus your child’s college fund. You can borrow for college, but you can’t borrow for retirement. And if you’re well-positioned after they graduate, you can always help with paying your children’s loans. 

Ultimately, you’ll need to consider how to balance the two goals of retirement and college saving. Financial planners suggest testing varying rates of savings — for retirement and college — to see the impact of dialing one up and dialing down another. You can play around with online retirement and college savings calculators to get a general sense, or pay a professional financial planner for their time for a more precise outlook.

Note: If you believe saving for college will hurt your eligibility for financial aid, you can safely cast those ideas aside. The truth is, when the federal government determines what you are expected to contribute, your income matters far more than your savings.

How Much Should You Be Saving

It’s important to understand your goals, and your current situation, as you plan for the future. 

There are several philosophies on what you should save, but then there’s the hard reality of what you can afford to. There is also no easy way to know exactly what you will have to pay out of pocket.

Once you’ve thought that through, there are several practical ways to put together a savings plan. A well-known expert on all-things college finance, advocates the following strategy: 

  • Save one-third of the costs of a four-year public college in your home state over your child’s first 18 years. 
  • Attempt to pay a third out of your income while they’re attending college.
  • Finance the remainder (with federal loans). 

Other experts suggest variations of that theme, like saving a quarter of the cost, paying a quarter and borrowing the rest split among family members. 

Regardless of what you decide to save, there are big benefits when you save early on: If you start when your child is a newborn, roughly one-third of the savings will be generated from the earnings on your investments. If you wait until high school, less than 10 percent will come from earnings. 

Source: New York Times

Top Credit Card Tips For Students

Getting a credit card as soon as you can is a smart move – after all, credit cards provide an easy opportunity to build credit, which is important when it’s time to buy a car or a house.

Most people start using credit cards regularly for the first time in college, and as with many college experiences, it’s easy to make mistakes. To avoid credit card regret, take a look at the information below for our top credit card tips for students.

  • Pay the bill on time

The point of getting a credit card is to build a positive credit history, but if you don’t pay your bill on time, you’ll end up doing more harm than good. The largest portion of your credit score – 35% – comes from your history with paying your bills on time. This means that if you’re chronically making late payments to your card, your credit will seriously suffer.

Make it a priority to pay your bill by its due date, and if you do forget to make a payment, call your credit card company right away to get back on track. The worst think you can do is let a missed payment linger.

  • Don’t charge more than you can afford to pay off in a month

Many college students fall into the vortex of credit card debt by mistakenly thinking that they’ll be able to pay off the charges when they’ve graduated and gotten a high-paying job. This mentality can lead to thousands of dollars in debt, which will do damage to your credit. 30% of your credit score is determined by your total debt load, so if you’re carry a balance from month to month, you’re setting yourself up to start the rest of your financial life with a less-than-ideal credit score.

Don’t fall into this trap! Only charge what you can afford to pay off in one month, no matter what. This is easier to do if you’re carefully tracking your spending and keeping it in line with your income. Once you hit your limit, leave the card at home. And don’t let peer pressure cause you to overspend – no spring break trip is worth going into credit card debt for – trust us!

  • Avoid getting too close to your credit limit

Even if you’re being careful to pay your credit card bill on time and in full every month, getting too close to your credit limit is also a risky move. The credit bureaus don’t like to see you using more than 30% of your available credit – this means that if your limit on your credit card is $10,000, you shouldn’t have more than $3,300 in charges on the card at any given time.

To avoid utilizing too much of your available credit, keep a close watch on your spending and pay your balance in full every month. Not only will this keep you out of debt (see above) you’ll also avoid exceeding that 30% threshold.

  • Don’t open too many cards

The temptation to open new credit cards is everywhere, but it’s important to avoid the impulse to get a new card every time a store you’re shopping in is offering a deal. Having too many cards makes it difficult to keep track of your spending and payment due dates, and it also provides too many opportunities to get into debt.

When you’re new to using credit, the best thing to do is keep one or two credit cards for your daily spending and stick to just those cards until you’ve gotten the hang of regularly charging your purchases and paying your monthly bills. No need to overcomplicate your financial life before you have to!

  • Avoid fees

With all the great credit cards for students on the market today, there’s no need to pay an annual fee on your credit card. Again, your goal is to build good credit, and there’s no need to pay fees to do so. Shop around for a no-fee card that offers other rewards you’re interested in to make the most of your first credit card experience.

The takeaway: to set yourself up for a positive financial future, it’s important to open a credit card and use it responsibly as soon as you can, preferably in college. Be sure to follow the credit card tips above to avoid turning your good credit dreams into nightmare!

Source: NerdWallet

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