There is nothing that makes you feel more like an adult than the excitement that comes from being a month ahead on your car payment.
When I turned 12 years old, I started crying and told my mom I didn’t want to grow up. I still feel like that every time I celebrate another year of my life, but I think I’ve gotten better at internalizing my true feelings about the whole situation.
A lot of students these days are unaware of what it means to have good credit, or any credit at all, and how it will affect their future. Transferring into the real world is daunting, but if you know how to get there, you won’t end up regretting the decisions you make because annual percentage rate and financing are foreign words to your vocabulary.
My generation doesn’t always know what it’s doing. I just bought a car, and the only reason I felt confident about the whole process is because I did my research and asked the right people the right questions beforehand. I talked to my bank several times, my grandfather (who also happened to just buy a new car), and my parents for advice on what rates were the best.
It’s not simple, for one thing. I did my research, and I’m grateful I spent the last year and a half building my credit with one of those college student credit cards because that certainly helped.
Sometimes bad things happen to good people, like medical bills or car accidents. I’ve unfortunately had medical bills in the past that made my credit go down before I ever had the chance to build it up. The thing is this: Life is an insanely unexpected bunch of events that you can’t always plan for, but the best thing to do is try and be prepared anyway. Being aware of good credit earlier on in life can help prepare for the unexpected.
I grew up witnessing my parents’ generation fall into bad credit, and I have seen whole families go under financially because they misunderstood planning for the future and keeping credit scores high.
If you have a credit card, don’t use it for just anything. Designate that thing for specifics that you know you can pay off without having to worry about paying the absolute minimum each month.
Familiarize yourself with finance terms so you don’t get sold a car and have to pay an annual percentage rate you can’t truly afford.
When I bought my car, I was offered a 13 percent APR for financing on one vehicle. At a different dealership for a car of relatively the same price, I was offered four percent APR because some financial fine print was deciphered.
Make good choices and always double and triple check if you are unsure what those may be. Take advice from people you trust. I choose to not take advice from anybody I wouldn’t be willing to trade places with.
If you need a car like I desperately did, you should probably go buy a car, but don’t take on more than you can handle. Keep track of your spending. Be excited about being ahead on payments for anything, even if it’s just paying off that Rosetta Stone you bought last year because you thought it was a good idea to learn Swedish.
Be excited about being an adult, but be aware of how you’re doing it.