Money Talk: How to Go From ๐Ÿ˜ฑ to ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Maybe math isnโ€™t your best subject, or your parentsโ€™ money mistakes have you stressing about your own finances. Or maybe the thought of budgeting just makes you want to take a nap.

But you canโ€™t be all ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™‰๐Ÿ™Š about money โ€” dealing with it is part of becoming an adult. And understanding how to manage it responsibly will open up possibilities to travel, start your own business or (insert your dream here).

To make learning about money as painless as possible, we answered some basic questions that we hear from college students and recent grads all the time. (And we threw in some emojis, too, because that makes everything more fun).๐Ÿ’ƒ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ˜„

Question: I spend too much money โ€” how do I save more?

Answer: Think of budgeting like dieting: If you restrict yourself too much, youโ€™ll probably lose a few pounds at first but eventually go crazy and eat all the ๐Ÿ•๐Ÿ•๐Ÿ•. Similarly, itโ€™s unreasonable to expect yourself never to splurge on those concert tickets or that cool pair of shoes.

To keep a healthy balance, try this: Spend 50% of your money on necessities, 30% on wants and 20% on savings. Hereโ€™s how it would break down with $100:

$50 โ†’ ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ’ก๐ŸŽ
$30 โ†’ ๐Ÿ‘ ๐Ÿฆ๐ŸŽฌ
$20 โ†’ ๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿท๐Ÿฆ

Q: What is credit and how do I build it?

A: Your credit report is like a financial report card: Itโ€™s a record of how youโ€™ve handled borrowed money, including whether youโ€™ve paid your bills on time. Your credit score is like your GPA: It represents the information on your credit report with a number. The best score you can get is typically an 850, which is like acing all of your classes.๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ฏ๐ŸŽ‰

Credit is one of those chicken-and-egg ๐Ÿฃ problems: You need it to rent an apartment, get a car loan, take out a mortgage and even to open a cell phone plan. Basically, having good credit is the ๐Ÿ”‘ to adulting. But how do you build credit if youโ€™ve never borrowed money? Here are three ways:

1โƒฃ Get a credit card with a responsible relative who is willing to co-sign for you. (A co-signer = someone who promises to pay the bill if you donโ€™t.)

2โƒฃ Open a secured credit card without a co-signer โ€” youโ€™ll just have to put down a ๐Ÿ’ต deposit first.

3โƒฃ Ask to be added as an authorized user on a relativeโ€™s credit card. Youโ€™ll get the best of both worlds: You can swipe without being legally responsible for the bill, and in most cases, it builds your credit history. Just make sure the card issuer reports authorized users to the credit bureaus.

Once you have your new piece of plastic, use it responsibly. That means not going crazy at the mall and paying your bill on time every month.โœ…

Q: College is so expensive! How do I afford it?

A: Thinking about paying for college might have you feeling like ๐Ÿ˜ง๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ฑ.

But you have options, including grants and scholarships, which = ๐Ÿ†“ money, and student loans, which = money you have to pay back.๐Ÿ’ธ

In order to be eligible for any of that, you have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Even if you donโ€™t think you qualify for need-based aid, submit it anyway. The FAFSA is necessary to get federal student loans and some merit-based scholarships (aka, money you get based on your brains or talents โšฝ๐ŸŽต๐Ÿ“).

Q: I have a ton of student loan debt; what should I do?๐Ÿšจ๐Ÿ†˜๐Ÿšจ

A: Paying back student loans stinks. But if you have federal loans, as most students do, there are ways to keep them from draining your bank account.

For instance, you can sign up for an income-driven repayment plan to tie your monthly payments to your income. And if your income is low enough, you could owe as little as $0 a month.

Some other options: If youโ€™re dealing with a medical issue ๐Ÿš‘ or another stressful money situation, you can request a forbearance to temporarily hit โ€œpauseโ€ on your monthly payments. And if you work for the government or a nonprofit, you may qualify for a loan forgiveness program.๐Ÿ™

You can learn more about all these options through your loan servicer, so make sure you know who yours is. Hint: Itโ€™s the private company that manages your loans on behalf of the government. You can look it up by logging in to the Federal Student Aid website.

Congrats, you made it to the ๐Ÿ”š!. Until next time, this Nerd is signing out.๐Ÿค“


Teddy Nykiel is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email:ย Twitter:ย @teddynykiel.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published byย USA Today College.

The article Money Talk: How to Go From ๐Ÿ˜ฑ to ๐Ÿ˜Ž originally appeared on NerdWallet.