By Drew Allen
One of the main questions people have about their financial lives is how to become independent. For millions of working adults and college students, that single question forms the main component of their academic and early working life. What are the steps to achieving it? The first step on the ladder is getting an education. Others include universal rites of passage, like applying for a first credit card, landing a career-oriented job after graduation, purchasing a car, and establishing healthful daily habits. Here are more details about each of the five pillars of financial independence.
For so many young adults, a four-year college degree serves as the foundation of a stable career and a life of earning power. Whether your plans are for a bachelor’s degree, a community college certificate, trade school, an associate degree, or a graduate school diploma, learning is the first step to earning. Give yourself time to plan about how to proceed. Don’t assume that a traditional college is the only option. Speak with a career counselor who can offer sound advice about what kind of educational institution or training makes the most sense. Once you decide, be serious and diligent about pursuing it to the end. Strive for top grades and never be reluctant to ask questions during courses or training sessions.
If you are ready and able to take hold of your own finances and personal budgeting, now is the time to apply for a student credit card and begin establishing a financial history. Getting a first credit card during college or trade school is a wise move for several reasons. Not only does credit give you more monthly budgeting options, but simply having a card and making regular payments can put your data on the radar of the three largest credit bureaus. That means eventually building a score, a file, and the ability to borrow money in the future for a home, car, or small business. How to begin? Review a student-oriented guide that explains the ins and outs of credit cards. You’ll learn how to shop for offers that suit your unique spending habits and income level. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until after graduation to apply.
Earning money is at the crux of personal finance. Some say that a job is where the rubber meets the road as far as long-term stability, retirement comfort, and everyday well-being. But it’s crucial to see the link between education, hard work, attitude, and income. Just having a job is not the secret to anything; having the right job is. Finding employment that suits your skills, desires, background, social skills, and educational achievement is what a career is all about. There are dozens of moving parts to the machinery of creating a work life that delivers good pay and a reasonable package of benefits. Those who are still in school should get all the advice they can about how to choose a career.
Amid all the weighty decisions and factors that go into a satisfying lifestyle, a car might seem to be near the bottom of the priority list. However, owning and maintaining a reliable vehicle is an essential part of the modern-day arsenal for winning the battle of life, career, and retirement. The challenge of acquiring a good car is more formidable than most think. The trick is to avoid buying new models, negotiating on price, and staying within your budget when shopping for suitable vehicles.
Health and finances are closely related. Ask anyone who has serious medical issues, particularly ones that could have been prevented by making wiser choices. Consider visiting a doctor regularly and following whatever advice they give. Working adults who exercise sensibly, get enough sleep, eat right, and don’t smoke tend to be happier and have fewer health-related problems than those who do otherwise. It’s never too late to get reliable medical advice from a physician and start living well.