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What You Never Learned about Savings and Credit

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080918-N-0659H-001Many colleges require their students to take at least one math class—even if their AP credits, ACT scores, or previously earned credit exempts them from taking most of the math classes in the catalog. At my university, this was essentially a “real world” math class, at least, it was supposed to be.

I think I learned more “real world” math in my high school calculus class. The point is that, like me, most students who don’t actually study finance leave college without a good idea of how to buy a house, car, set up a budget, establish credit, etc. We can’t do all of that in one blog post, either—but we can give you an overview.

How to Get Credit

It wasn’t until I tried to buy my first new car that I discovered that no credit is as bad as poor credit. Who knew? Okay, most people probably know that, but at the time, it didn’t occur to me that not having a credit score didn’t mean that I had resisted all attempts to sign me up to some card with crazy interest rates, it meant in the world of credit, I didn’t exist. 

In order to get a credit score, you also have to get some credit. A popular way to establish credit is to open a credit card and use and pay it off faithfully.

Where to Put Your Savings 

Many of the rising generation were graduating high school and college just as the latest recession hit. With all the press about the failure of “too big to fail” banks and fraud and government bailouts, many have a deep mistrust of banks and investments.

Now that the economy is back on its feet, it’s important to put your savings in a bank account where they’ll earn some interest. If you have more than a few month’s expenses saved, put the rest in some kind of investment such as a CD or a diversified stock portfolio.

How (and Why) to Start Saving for Retirement 

Retirement, for most people, seems like it’s a long time away. In reality, it’s important to start saving for it right now. If your employer offers a 401(k), that’s a good place to start. If you’re in business for yourself or just want to supplement, a Roth IRA is another good option. And as always, property is a great investment—it’s one of the only types of investments you can actually use while it’s accruing value.

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