As a college student, it is easy to skip over your personal finances. Trust me, I know. I have been in your shoes. However, as a college student, you are in a prime position to retire as a millionaire and get your personal finances squared away before you head into the real world.
To help you prioritize your finances and not waste time, we put together a list of five financial moves to make right now.
1. Open A High Yield Savings Account
I am willing to bet your savings account yields a 0.01% interest rate. Fortunately, the digital age has given consumers a new way to make more money from their savings account. A high yield savings account is a financial tool that allows you to save money just like you usually would, but earn 1.0% – 2.0% in interest. This astronomical yield is the reason millions of Americans are opening a high yield savings account.
2. Start Contributing to a Roth IRA
Believe it or not, contributing to a Roth IRA is the smartest financial decision you can make as a college student. Do you want to retire with a $1 million – $2 million retirement nest egg? Sure, you do. A Roth IRA – individual retirement account – is the most powerful financial tool. You can open one now for free and contribute up to $6,000 per year.
Most college students do not think about retirement; however, those that do are the ones who will retire as millionaires. Even if you wait until you are 25 or 30 years old to finally open a Roth IRA, you will never be able to catch up to someone who started when they were in college. Why? Compound interest. Don’t believe me, maybe you will believe Albert Einstein, who said, “compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it…he who doesn’t pays it.” So, do yourself a favor and open a Roth IRA.
3. Start Investing
Are you afraid to invest your money in the stock market? It is natural to be scared, but it is a lot easier than you think. Fortunately, it is easier than ever to start investing in the stock market. There are literally hundreds of apps that will automate your investing strategy. All you need to do is fund the account and let it take care of the rest. Most Robo-advisors employ a popular investing strategy called dollar cost averaging. DCA involves investing your money over regular intervals (monthly) instead of all at once (lump sum). This strategy mitigates your risk and allows you to take advantage of the high and lows of the stock market.
4. Apply for a Credit Card
If you have a credit card, then good for you. If you do not, then pay attention. Applying for a credit card is a straightforward process. It is another smart financial move to make as a college student. Establishing credit as a college student will help bolster your ability to land a job and will help you down the road when you want to buy a house or a new car. Obtaining a credit card now will allow you to develop good habits, such as paying off your credit card bill each month. Believe it or not, payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score, so if you can start making your payments immediately the better.
Also, more and more employers are reviewing your credit history. Why? If you are entering into a project management role, you will oversee a certain budget. Most companies want to make sure you know how to effectively manage your money before they offer you a job.
5. Start a Side Hustle
Do you have some free time between classes? If so, then consider launching a profitable side hustle. The gig economy is a great place to turn to if you are looking to make a few extra dollars here or there. Companies like DoorDash, Uber, and Postmates will pay you to deliver goods. And here is the deal, you get to decide when you want to work. Although it is important to note that these companies pay the most on the weekends. But, if you have some time to kill on a Tuesday night, fire up one of these money making apps and start making money.
Final Thoughts: College Student Financial Playbook
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to personal finance; however, we listed the most important things that you need to focus on. These simple financial moves will pay dividends down the road when you start a family, apply for a job, or even move to a new city.