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September 6, 2016

What Any Broke College Student Should Have

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Growing up is never easy, but you will have to become an adult one day. If you take the time now to get your financial house in order, you’ll have a much smoother transition and will certainly be thanking yourself later.

You may not be excited about it, but Americans are now legally obligated to have health insurance and there are serious tax penalties if you do not have a plan. Don’t think of health insurance as an unnecessary expense though: one accident while uninsured could leave you in dire financial straits. In 2013, 27 percent of young adults between the ages of 18-24 did not have health insurance, and a college completion study showed that 69 percent of students believed a health insurance plan could have better helped them earn their degree.

If you are under 26, you’re eligible to be covered by a parent’s plan. If that’s not an option, the passage of the Affordable Care Act has widened the selection pool of insurance plans for young adults and you can find them directly on your state’s health insurance exchanges, or online marketplaces, and get a reduction on your premium using your tax credits. Other options are to buy a plan through your school at a possibly discounted rate, or apply for Medicaid if your household income is low.

Once your health insurance is set, make sure your property is covered with renter’s insurance and auto insurance, if necessary.

Though many college students are becoming more financially aware, that does not necessarily mean they are more financially responsible. Having your own account can allow you to see any monetary habits you have early on so you can make corrections. More importantly, accidents can happen, which means it is never too early for you to create your own safety net.

If you are among the 70 percent of students stressed out about finances, a little planning will go a long way in making yourself feel more secure. Creating a budget plan and strictly following it now can truly save you from future disasters. Figure out how much you need to spend on the basics, like rent and food, and then determine how much you can reasonably save every month. You’ll be grateful you did when you have a surprise car repair or when you leave college with enough money in the bank to avoid moving back home.

If you have created your budget and still have debt to settle and an injured credit score, make sure you work your debt into your budget. Pay off the highest interest rate debts first, so you can save money on unnecessary interest. Pay each of your bills on time to raise your credit score. If you are still having trouble with your credit score, try one of the many credit repair companies that follow the government guidelines on credit repair.

Once you have mastered these basics, don’t stop there. If you already have insurance policies and independent money accounts under your control, you should think about investments that would help you in the long run.

After paying off your premiums and sticking to your budget plan, allocate whatever money is left over (even if it’s very little) to a secondary fund that you can invest in for revenue. Look for a simple, low-fee mutual fund account and start contributing. Making good financial decisions never has an end, but the beginning starts as early as now.

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