Shhhhhh!! Leave me alone! It’s exam time! I’m trying to study!
It’s definitely that time of the semester. Everyone is hunkered in their own preferred way…cramming in last minute knowledge (and coffee and chocolate) for the dreaded law school exams. You give it that much attention because it’s simply that important. It seems like your entire future rides on every single exam question.
Your money deserves that same level of attention. Because your entire future really does ride on how you manage your finances. If you are lazy and sloppy with your money, you will end up paying a price. Late payments, overextended credit cards, overdrawn bank accounts, and bounced checks are more than just an embarrassment. These things can hurt your credit score. And a bad credit score comes with consequences. If you have bad credit, you may have trouble getting a Grad PLUS Loan or a private educational loan to help you pay your living expenses while you are in school. When it’s time to buy a car, you may not be able to secure a loan. You may not be able to rent an apartment without getting someone to co-sign for you. You may pay more for car insurance. You may have to pay a deposit in order to have utilities connected. You’ll pay much higher interest rates on credit cards, private educational loans, car loans, and home mortgages…if, in fact, you are able to get approved for them at all. And worst of all, if your credit history is challenging enough, you may run into trouble with the character and fitness portion of the bar exam application. That’s a lot of scary consequences for simply not giving your money the attention it deserves.
Think of managing your money as an extra class you are taking. Give it a certain amount of time each week. Use a spreadsheet or some other program to manage your budget. Write down when your bills are due so you don’t miss any deadlines. Read your mail and email—it could actually be something important. Check your accounts online regularly so you aren’t facing any surprises. Something as important as the funding that makes your life work deserves the same attention you would give an exam or a paper.
Shhhhhh! Leave me alone! I just got paid! I have to work on my budget and my bills!