The Express Lane Blog

5 Personal Finance Best Practices College Grads Should Learn Now

Recent college grads discussing together around computer

Since adulthood comes with its fair share of life-changing decisions—most of which directly relate to finances—graduating from college is a major turning point for many recent graduates. While having complete independence and autonomy over your life may feel empowering, it can also be overwhelming if you have no experience managing your finances.

To help ease your transition from college life to adulting, here are some financial practices that can help you get on the right track.

  1. Focus on building a positive credit history.
    Since your ability to make large purchases such as buying a home or a car are dependent on the length and positivity of your credit history, it’s important for you to start establishing credit after you get out of school. You can do this by making payments on your student loans, applying for a secured credit card, paying your bills on time and keeping your credit utilization below 30 percent of your total credit limit.

  2. Pay your bills on time, every time.
    Making on-time bill payments is a key financial habit for recent graduates to adopt. Since your payment activity on accounts including your credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts and/or mortgage loans makes up approximately 35 percent of your credit score (according to FICO®), paying your bills on time—all of the time—is a great way to establish a positive credit history. You can set up automatic payments and/or electronic reminders to help you stay on track with monthly payments.

  3. Create a budget.
    A budget is an effective tool for managing your finances. Budgeting helps you keep track of every dollar that comes in and where it’s going, which makes it easier for you to manage your spending habits and recurring expenses. If making spreadsheets isn’t your thing, there are plenty of budgeting apps you can utilize to help you stay on track with your budget, such as Truebill, Mint and Goodbudget.

  4. Start saving and investing.
    According to a recent Bankrate survey, 21 percent of working Americans aren’t saving any money for retirement, emergencies or financial goals. You never know what unforeseen circumstances may arise in life, so having money stashed away for a rainy day and/or long-term investments is the good, responsible way to ensure you’re prepared and financially secure.

  5. Educate yourself on personal finance.
    The more you know about personal finance, the better you’ll be at it. There are plenty of renowned financial experts including Dave Ramsey, The Budgetnista and Millennial Money’s Grant Sabatier, who offer a range of valuable insight and content including blogs, podcasts, seminars, eBooks, YouTube videos and more on how to create a financially secure future.

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If you are a recent college graduate who is looking to establish your credit history, Credit Acceptance has a network of enrolled dealers that offer vehicle financing on nearly any new or used car for car buyers with bad credit or no credit. And, with on-time car payments, you can improve your credit and move on to traditional financing. Simply fill out the Start Your Credit Approval form on our website to get started!