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Adulting 101

Just because you never learned how to cook an egg or balance a checkbook, doesn't mean you can't! This guide will show you some life skills needed beyond college. There is also a discussion board where you can ask adulting questions.

Budgeting

Budgeting sounds scary, but all it really means is keeping track of your money in some way. There are tons of apps and methods to help you track your spending, allowing you to save for what you really want. 

I follow the 50/30/20 rule. This means that I budget 50% of my monthly paycheck on needs such as housing, healthcare, and healthy groceries; 30% on wants such as shopping and eating out; and 20% on savings and debt repayment. I keep track of everything in an Excel spreadsheet.

Once you know how you spend money, you know what to cut. For example, if you want to save for a car, you may reduce how often you eat out.

Taxes

Federal taxes are due every year on April 15. Most state taxes also adhere to this April 15 deadline, but DE, HI, IA, LA, ME, MA, OK, SC, and VA all have slightly extended deadlines. 

Taxes can feel overwhelming, but there are lots of tools to help you figure it out! You can pay someone to help you file your taxes, or you can do it yourself for free on the IRS website. Start collecting your documents in Jan. or Feb., so you have a lot of time to get anything else you need.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are not your enemy, but they should be treated with caution and respect. Credit cards are usually the first way that people build credit, which is important if you want to get a loan for a car or mortgage. However, if you spend more than you actually have, this can hurt your credit and make things difficult in the long run.

Some quick tips for credit cards:

  • Pay if off ON TIME, EVERY TIME. This helps you build good credit if you consistently pay your credit card in full on-time, but it can really hurt you if you miss more than a few payments or carry a high balance every month. I have a monthly phone alarm set to remind me to pay my credit card. 
  • Make a budget for how much you can afford to put on your credit card
  • Keep spending small
  • Never skip a payment
  • Do not rack up debt on your credit card. Credit cards have very high interest rates, which means you will end up owing a lot more than you originally spent if you don't pay it off on time.
  • Make sure you are ready for the responsibility of budgeting a credit card. If you are afraid you may overspend, consider other forms of payment, such as a debit card or cash, until you are sure that you can pay if off each month.

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