Maybe math isn’t your best subject, or your parents’ 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 can’t be all 🙈🙉🙊 about money — 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).💃🎉😄
Question: I spend too much money — how do I save more?
Answer: Think of budgeting like dieting: If you restrict yourself too much, you’ll probably lose a few pounds at first but eventually go crazy and eat all the 🍕🍕🍕. Similarly, it’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. Here’s how it would break down with $100:
$50 → 🏠💡🍎
$30 → 👠🍦🎬
$20 → 💵🐷🏦
Q: What is credit and how do I build it?
A: Your credit report is like a financial report card: It’s a record of how you’ve handled borrowed money, including whether you’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.💪💯🎉
Credit is one of those chicken-and-egg 🐣 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 🔑 to adulting. But how do you build credit if you’ve never borrowed money? Here are three ways:
1⃣ 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 don’t.)
2⃣ Open a secured credit card without a co-signer — you’ll just have to put down a 💵 deposit first.
3⃣ Ask to be added as an authorized user on a relative’s credit card. You’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.✅
Q: College is so expensive! How do I afford it?
A: Thinking about paying for college might have you feeling like 😧😭😱.
But you have options, including grants and scholarships, which = 🆓 money, and student loans, which = money you have to pay back.💸
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 don’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 ⚽🎵📝).
Q: I have a ton of student loan debt; what should I do?🚨🆘🚨
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 you’re dealing with a medical issue 🚑 or another stressful money situation, you can request a forbearance to temporarily hit “pause” on your monthly payments. And if you work for the government or a nonprofit, you may qualify for a loan forgiveness program.🙏
You can learn more about all these options through your loan servicer, so make sure you know who yours is. Hint: It’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 🔚!. Until next time, this Nerd is signing out.
This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today College.