Life Skills Academy: Credit, Budgeting, and Managing Money

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Why You Shouldn't Have 37 Credit Cards

Getting your first paycheck is an awesome experience. Paying your first bill? Not so much. Moving into a new place? Awesome. Actually having to pay for food, board, shampoo? Not as thrilling.

It can be confusing when it's your first time, so watch Melissa Cleborne from Meriwest Credit Union as she helps you take the first steps to financial independence. Learn how to budget, build credit, and balance your needs and desires with your income.

Recommended Reading

Books

Websites

  • California Paycheck Calculator
    This online worksheet lets you know what your take home pay will be after taxes and payroll deductions.
  • Compound Interest Calculator
    From the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, this site shows how your savings will add up over the years.
  • Suze Orman: Needs and Wants
    This short video gives you a quick look at what your essential monthly expenses will be, with some quick tips on avoiding unnecessary expenses.
  • Teen's Guide to Money
    This website covers earning, investing, saving, and spending.
  • My Money.gov
    A coordinated effort from more than 20 government entities, this site offers general advice on money management and financial literacy as well as links to very specific topics like how to save for college or what to do when you have a child.
  • Practical Money Skills
    Games, articles, and calculators to help you understand money management and credit. The description of credit score was particularly helpful and the little games are ridiculously addictive.

Tips and Tricks

  • Find a mentor you trust who can help guide your financial decisions.
  • Look for free or low-cost workshops and seminars on financial literacy. Look for presentations sponsored by well-respected non-profit groups.
  • Protect yourself from fraud by refraining from posting anything online that might attract the attention of scammers or worse (example: don’t tell online how much you spent on that prom dress or how much that Christmas bonus was).
  • Do an honest self-assessment of how much money you bring in and compare to your spending habits.

Tips for Establishing Credit

  • Know your monthly payments and make them on time!
  • A secured credit card can help you establish good credit quickly.
  • Car loans are a great way to build credit, but don't buy one if you can't afford it.
  • Check your credit score annually—www.AnnualCreditReport.com

Tips for Budgeting

  • A budget is a tool to keep you out of debt.
  • Reality check: you can't afford everything you want, look for cheaper alternatives.
  • Track your spending for a week or month so you know how much you actually spend.
  • Take advantage of the budgeting tools your bank or credit union provides.
  • Budget with a purpose, start with a specific goal.

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