1. Don’t carry a credit card balance!
Weird advice, I realize, considering the whole idea of credit is the joy of spending money you don’t have. That said, paying 18% interest to a credit card company is pretty similar to throwing your cash out the window. I recommend getting a credit card because they are convenient and it’s important to build your credit – but only if you can pay off the minimum balance each month.
2. Pick a good credit card
…Preferably one that will give you rewards you will actually use (like cash back, but check the percentage, 1% cash back is not going to fund your trip to Tahiti) and has an easy online interface. I’m a big fan of Capital One credit cards because they’re very customizable, customer service is good, and their website is easy to navigate.
For other card recommendations, check out credit card recommendations for new college grads on www.moneysmartlife.com and/or www.moneyunder30.com.
3. Get your FREE yearly credit report. Every year.
A better use of the time you spend facebook stalking ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, go to: www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
There are 3 companies that track your credit. Check all once per year or 1 every 4 months. Make sure to fix any mistakes before they can negatively affect your credit score (making it harder to borrow money for a home or other investment).
4. Ask for a lower rate!
Call your credit card company once every 6 months and ask for a lower rate. They’ll usually say yes, and while it’s best not to carry a balance, if you’re going to have a balance might as well have a low rate.
I’ll break down key points from many of these books in upcoming posts, but for the overachievers out there that want to get ahead, here are some of the best books on personal finance for people in their 20s. The links lead you to Amazon.com but in true Beyond Beer Money style, I’d suggest you head over to the library.
- Your Money or Your Life – Dominguez & Robin. A class that presents a holistic view of money focusing on simplicity. Great ideas such include how to figure out your real hourly wage (including travel time, miscellaneous expenses- warning: it can be really horrifying). Time is money.
- Millionaire Next Door – Thomas J. Stanley. A fascinating study of millionaires and how they earn and spend their money (How much do they spend on suits? What cars do they buy?). Shatters the myth of millionaire wallpapering their bathrooms with $100 bills by demonstrating they get rich the same way everyone else does – hard work, understanding their finances, saving, and a little luck.
- A Million Bucks by Thirty – Alan Corey. Funny (how many personal finance books can you say that about?). Although Corey’s millions are the result of smart (and somewhat lucky) real estate decisions, the advice he presents on saving and making smart money choices are timeless. Also, any man who starts out eating nothing but Ramen for an extended period of time and living in the Spanish Harlem and ends up a millionaire is doing something right.
- Millionaire by Thirty – Douglas Andrew. Includes fairly unconventional advice about buying a home early with no down payment and investing in life insurance to build assets tax free. Interesting book written by 2 brothers that built net worths over $1.5 million before their 30th birthday.
Did I miss something good? Write me and tell me.