1. Skip credit cards completely if you can. The average student graduates with more than $2,000 in credit card debt, and that’s a bad way to kick off your adult life. If at all possible, wait until senior year to get a credit card. Meanwhile, use a debit card instead.
2. Don’t get behind on your bills. Missing a payment not only means you'll get hit with huge fees. You'll also see your credit score—basically the GPA that follows you throughout your financial life—plunge. To get a free idea of your credit score, try creditkarma.com. One late payment also gives credit card companies an excuse to raise the interest rate on what you already owe as well as on any future purchases you make.
3. If you do have a credit card, pay more than the minimum. Staying on the payment schedule your lender sets can cost you thousands of dollars and years of your life. Say you owe $1,000 on a card that charges 18% interest. Paying just $10 more than the minimum every month will save you 13 years of repayment and $1,312.
4. Stick with low-rate federal student loans. You might’ve gotten private student loans in the past, but going forward, make sure you and your family get all the Stafford and PLUS loans you can before going to private lenders, which are currently charging interest rates of up to 14.5%.
5. Use the ATM no more than twice a week. Two or three dollars here or there may not sound like much, but if you’re using another bank&rsq
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