It is finally your last year of college. All those years of hard work have paid off and you are about to get going on the next exciting chapter in your life. Just a few more classes, exams and reports, and you are on your way. Go ahead and take some time to congratulate yourself on the progress you have made so far, but also do a little solid financial planning before it is too late. Don’t wait until May and then get so caught up in deciding what to do next that you don’t have any time left for this task.
The preparations you make now could mean a big financial difference for you down the road. After all the time you spent learning about your major and “academic world” information, here are some “real world” financial tips that can help you get started on the right track:
• Have you already dug a debt hole for yourself? Did you somehow manage to run up a huge credit card debt for yourself? Don’t just ignore it and think it will go away. Even if you move away after college, and the credit card companies can’t find you, any failure to pay will go on your credit score. This could come back to haunt you if future employers check your credit history and see that you are irresponsible. Contact the credit card companies, work out a payment plan, and put those cards away for the rest of the school year.
• Do you owe the school money? Are there textbooks, fees, or outstanding amounts that you are hoping to duck? Not a great strategy either. You might not be able to graduate, the college could refuse to send your diploma, or they might not provide any needed transcripts for advanced education. Contact the finance office, find out how much you owe, and work out a payment plan to pay off your debt before you leave campus.
• Do you owe your parents money? Have you “borrowed” money from them through your school years, thinking that you’re not going to bother paying it back? This could put a dent in their retirement plans, or it might make it harder for a younger sibling to afford college. Deal with the debt you owe your parents. They may say to forget it, but don’t assume that will happen.
• What about those student loans? It’s much easier to not think about them, but they could make life very difficult about a year from now when the payment notices start coming. Talk to the financial aid office and any private lenders to find out just how much money you owe. Use online calculators to determine what your monthly payments will be, learn about available payment plans, and make sure you are searching for jobs that will pay you enough money to cover your monthly payments.
You’re an adult now, so start acting like one and learn to deal with money intelligently.