Debt Management is a serious subject. Yet, if you borrow wisely — planning out how much you should borrow and your ability to pay it back — it can be a smart investment in your future. Be sure to borrow intelligently and repay responsibly.
Try to borrow only what you need. You can always take less than lenders offer.
- Before borrowing, estimate a year’s expenses for college.
- A good rule of thumb is that your student loan payment should be no more than 10-15% of your post-college anticipated income.
- Use repayment calculators to estimate your Federal Stafford Loan and Private Loan payments (if applicable)
- When possible, pay the accruing interest on your unsubsidized federal loans and private loans while you’re still in school.
- Pay your loans on time! This will protect your credit history, help you avoid late fees, and prevent you from defaulting on your loan.
Prepare a budget. Budgeting is the first step to good money management.
- Set goals. Do you want to save for school? Buy a car? Plan for these expenses in your budget.
- Establish a “spending diary” where you track every purchase you make. Most online banking companies provide a summary of spending from your debit card, credit card, and Bill Pay that’s updated daily.
- Create a monthly budget. Track income (what you earn) and expenses (what you spend).
- Look for ways to cut costs. Do you need a latte every morning? Buy used textbooks, cook at home rather than eating out, shop at sales, and use public transportation. Little savings can make a big difference.
Exercise credit card spending responsibility.Avoid being tempted to spend more than you can afford!
- Understanding credit cards is important. Research cash advances, interest rates, credit reports and ways to avoid credit card debt prior to applying for a credit card.
- Remember, if you have recently applied for a credit card and have been turned down, you can request a free credit report from the agency that was used to make the credit decision. It’s a good idea to check your credit report at least once a year anyway. You can check for inaccuracies or fraud and be more informed about your personal credit information.