Spring Clean Your Finances
by Niomi Williams, Associate Program Director
Spring is here! Some people will be “spring cleaning” their living spaces, but we think you should also consider giving your finances a spring cleaning, as well! Here a five tips on how to clean up and organize your finances:
1. Check your credit report
Go to annualcreditreport.com and get your FREE credit report. Your report will contain previous address, loans, and any other accounts open in your name. If you see an account opened that you think may be in error, you will have the option to dispute it. It’s important to check your credit report routinely to check for identity theft or fraudulent activity (accounts opened in your name that you didn’t authorize). Note: when you enter your information to get your credit report, they will ask verification questions. Some of these questions are trick questions, such as “With which company did you have a mortgage with?” even if you’ve never had a mortgage. You would select “none of the above” option and continue answering the verification questions.
2. Create a financial to do list
A few things to include on your list:
- create an emergency fund of at least $500-1,000; this money should only be used in an emergency
- consider opening a Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account); it’s never too early to start socking away money for retirement
- calculate your net worth; your net worth are your assets (savings, car, stocks, jewelry, electronic equipment) minus your debts (student loans, car loan, credit card debt). You can calculate your net worth using our calculator.
- pay any late fees and/or fines; don’t let parking tickets or library fines accumulate–the sooner you take care of them, the better.
3. Review next year’s financial aid package and/or you plan for paying for college
Students should start receiving their financial aid packages soon. Review these and make thoughtful decisions on how to pay for tuition and costs. Remember, you don’t need to accept everything that is offered. For example, if you’re offered a $10,000 federal student loan, but only need $5,500 to cover your out of pocket costs for college, then only accept $5,500, not the full amount offered. Additionally, try to find a few more scholarships to apply for and consider the new payment plan.
4. Plan for next year—roommates, housing, job, internship, etc.
- If you’ll be living off-campus next year, you should have your housing and roommate situation pretty figured out by now. If not, it’s not too late! You can visit the Off-Campus Housing and Neighborhood Relations and they can help you find housing for next year.
- For those students interested in studying abroad, make sure you plan for the semester you’ll be gone—you might need to find someone to sublease your place, find somewhere to store your stuff, and let your roommates know that you’ll be out of the country for awhile.
- If you’ll be graduating within the next few semesters, make sure you’re doing everything you can to have a great resume. Along with good grades, consider volunteering or getting an internship, to make you a great future candidate for your dream job.
- If you haven’t started a budget, now is a great time to start.
5. Clean your space
This one is simple: throw away papers you don’t need anymore, start selling unwanted items on Craigslist, buy a few plastic totes to store things in. Getting—and staying—organized will make your life much easier in the long run! You’ll be happy you did once May is here and it’s time to move.