How To Build Credit As A College Student?

How To Build Credit As A College Student

About a year ago, a friend of mine wanted to obtain a loan from a bank. After going through his application, the bank promised to get back to him. A few days later, I found out that the bank denied his application. It was such a big disappointment as he needed the money badly.

I was angry at the bank for being so inconsiderate, but when I saw his FICO score, my anger died down immediately. No reasonable bank will give him a loan with such a poor FICO score!

In this article, you will find answers to the following:

  • Why college students need to have a good credit rating score.
  • What is a FICO score, and how does it affect you?
  • What should a college student’s credit score be like?
  • What is the best way for a college student to build credit?
  • What are the dos and don’ts of a credit card for students?

Why Do College Students Need To Have A Good Credit Score?

As a college student, having a good credit rating score is almost as important as having good grades. To get access to loans, you need to have a good credit score. Lenders need to have the assurance that you’ll be able to pay back the loan at the stipulated time. Most lenders would usually look to your FICO score to give them an idea of your credit history and how trustworthy you are. If you have a poor score, you won’t be given the loan. You can almost bet your life on it.

You should also improve your credit score as a student because it would help you crash your interest rates on your borrowings, which would help you save more money.

What Is A FICO Score And How Does It Affect You?

FICO score shows lenders how legitimate you are as a borrower. “FICO” stands for “Fair Isaac Corporation.” It is a data analytics firm that was established in 1989. It uses information about your credit history, credit utilization, and payment history to determine your FICO score.

As a student, if you plan on living the American dream, owning your own home, snagging a great ride, getting a good job, or even owning your own business then, you would want to have a great FICO. Your future landlord, auto loan creditor, future employer, and even the bank is interested in your creditworthiness by FICO. 

Now, whether you are a college student or simply an adult, you need to be creditworthy to access funds for most things. And if that is the case, as a rule of thumb, a credit score of 750 and above sounds good. Stay within that range.

So, What Is The Best Way For A College Student To Build Credit?

First things first, own a credit card. The single most important reason to apply for a credit card is to build a positive credit history. So, grow up and get one.

However, if you don’t want to or can’t open your credit card account, then another smart thing to do is to get your parents to make you an authorized user of their credit cards. That way, you can piggyback off your parent’s positive credit history.

Other ways of building credit as a student include:

  1. Opening a secured credit card: This is a smart way of building credit, especially for students with little or no credit history. It’s quite similar to your debit card. Your credit limit is determined by the amount of cash you deposit.

As credit bureaus are aware of every transaction made with a secured credit card, you can easily build your credit score by making small purchases with this credit card.

  • Making payments on your student loan: If you have student loans, start making payments on them while you are still in school. This will improve your credit score as it shows that you can repay your debts on time. Even if it means cutting down on your monthly expenses, you will find out later that the result is well worth the sacrifice.
  • Get someone to co-sign for your credit card: You may find it difficult to obtain a credit card as a student, especially if you’re below 21 years old. Your best bet is to look for someone who is legally qualified for a credit card to co-sign for your credit card.

However, you should ensure that you don’t miss payments as you would be jeopardizing the credit of your consigner if you do. Also, avoid the temptation of overspending simply because you don’t have to pay immediately; always spend within your limits.

 What Are The Dos And Don’ts Of Using Credit Card As A College Student?

  • Do your homework before choosing a credit card company. Choose the card that’s right and best for you. Credit card offers are endless. Just because you received an offer in the mail doesn’t mean you should take the dive. When you receive a credit card offer that piques your interest, do the due diligence. Don’t let freebies tempt you. Do you know how a pretty woman chooses her man from her roaster of chasers? That’s right. Compare and contrast various credit card company offers. Know what’s a great fit and go for it!
  • Do marry your card features. Different cards like different phones do different things. Understand these differences, and they can potentially break or build your overall wallet.
  • Do keep an eye on your purchases. Spend no more money than you earn, period! Differentiate your needs from your wants and evaluate your purchases.
  •  Do pay up promptly. That is how extra fees/charges are avoided. You should also try and get answers to questions on interest rates or annual fees.
  •  Do submit to your credit limit. When you are simply under the confines and boundaries of your credit limit, you’d be kept safe from the temptations of overspending with the consequent interests and charges
  • Do keep an eye on your credit score because your ability to buy a nice car, own a decent home, qualify for a loan, and sometimes a befitting job hinge on that.
  • Do pay more than the minimum payment when clearing your debts. Paying off your debts faster minimizes interest charges.
  • Do use credit card reward programs to your advantage. Once you get acquainted with using your credit card right, strategically using rewards can help you save money.
  • Don’t use reward credit cards when you can’t pay off the balance quickly.
  •  Don’t do free money. Avoid cash advances because there’s no free lunch anywhere.
  •  Don’t use multiple credit cards. Every new credit card application makes your credit score to drop. It’s as simple as that
  • Don’t share your credit card. 

Conclusion

To have access to most of the important things in life, you need a good credit score. Aside from being a factor that determines your access to loans, it can also influence the kind of jobs you get, the house you live in, among other things. The above-listed points will guide you in building a good credit score as a student.

How to Eat Healthy in College – Eat a Prepared Meal Kit!

Prepared Meal Kit

Updated with new information Dec 17 2020

Having a healthy balanced diet is the most important lifestyle choice you can focus on – even more so than exercising. No amount of exercise will help you lose weight for example, if you’re consuming even more calories through pizza. What diet and food choices to pick can be confusing, though. There are a plethora of vegan documentaries telling us about the hormone levels in milk, and an equal amount of rebuttals from meat-eaters. 

At this point, these choices are somewhat personal preference still. What we can agree on, is that highly processed foods leads to cancer and early death. No amount of vitamin tablets and hours accumulated on the elliptical is going to offset buying pre-made, highly processed food. Getting enough fruit and vegetables and a wide variety of them, along with enough protein (be it nuts or non-battery farmed chicken) and healthy fats is perhaps the simplest way to look at things. 

How do we achieve this at college though? It is so much effort to cook everyday. Its not just the cooking either, but to eat fresh means to buy perishable foods. These go out of date within a few days, and you’re back down the shops again.

As a result, college students often turn to pre-made meals from the shops. They’re easy to make, and are often actually cheaper than cooking yourself. The allure is real. It’s just unfortunate that they’re highly processed, and are the number 1 type of food that needs to be avoided.

The solution to this, and fast becoming a trend realised by students all the way to large families, is to meal prep. Combing the healthiness of fresh cooking with the laziness of pre-prepared meals is the genius of meal prepping.

Reasons to meal prep

Easy on the wallet

The money we can save by meal prepping can be compared to how a large manufacturer saves money by expanding their output – bulk buying ingredients in larger quantities will lead to cheaper prices per lb/kg. Just hope you have enough freezer space.

We are very often told not to be persuaded by the “3 for $5” pseudo sales but the reality is, it is cheaper per unit than buying just 1. These allure you to buying more than you need, but with meal prepping, the more the merrier. Ultimately, we can make better use of the sales through meal prepping. We also waste less on impulse buys, because meal prepping forces us to plan better, so we tend to stick to it and buy less snacks. Not only this, but sticking to the shopping list and cooking with more attention on the ingredients will result in less waste, which is better for both the environment and the current account.

Time and effort 

Through deferred gratification, meal prepping means we spend some extra time now so we can reap future benefits. 

Very often we find ourselves on Sundays with lots of free time and energy, but none of that on weekdays after work. Meal prepping is a great way to exploit that, giving us a ritual activity to do on the weekend (and it still may only take 2 hours or less), and be able to lazily stumble home from work and chuck our planned hard work in the microwave for 3 minutes. It’s very rewarding! 

Additionally, if large cooking sessions isn’t ideal, then merely doubling up on portions when cooking a regular meal is a great way to feed you for tomorrow, with no real extra time spent (triple it?). 

Health 

No more carcinogenic, high sugar, salty, processed insoluble ready meals! 

Meal kit companies

There’s a relatively new solution to prepared healthy food which doesn’t require as much time, effort and energy to compile. Introducing MEAL KITS which are essentially personal easy-to-cook subscriptions that you get daily, bi-weekly or weekly to your doorstep with all the ingredients and preparation instructions included. The meal kits are tailored to your flavor based on what you have indicated on the app. That seems to be an-ever growing trend, those food boxes or meal kits. The thing is that they are not cheap, especially for college students and whatnot!

I liked the way Kyle from MealKitsCanada described it in his article about the global leader in meal kits, HelloFresh. Meal kits are more of an alternative to eating out, especially during COVID conditions, than a replacement to buying groceries. It’s more expensive but potentially worth it. Here is the article “is HelloFresh worth it”?

It literally applies to all of us, that when we cook ourselves, our meals become more healthy than when we purchase pre-packaged meals. Even if it was the same meal with the same ingredients, buying the meat from the butchers and the vegetables from a market is a far more sustainably healthy way of making the same meal. It will undoubtedly taste better, too.

Winter Break Jobs For College Students In COVID Times

Winter Break Jobs For College Students In COVID Times

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly changed so many things about how we live our lives. It has had staggering effects on employment and the traditional working environment. So many jobs have been lost due to the knock-on effects of the virus. On the other hand, businesses have had to change their work pattern and switch to remote work to adhere to the physical distancing guidelines. This switch to remote work has created a surge in demand for remote jobs. 

College students in search of winter jobs during this period might find it difficult to get the regular winter Jobs because of the changes brought about by the pandemic. Nonetheless, there are still jobs students can engage in to make an extra income this winter.

Some of the jobs that college students can do in COVID times include: 

Food Delivery Jobs

Today more than ever before, there is a huge surge in demand for food delivery drivers. COVID 19 pandemic has made people more reluctant about eating out as they try to minimize physical contact. Most people now prefer to order their food online and have it delivered to them at home. This provides an opportunity for college students looking to make extra cash.

However, before deciding to take this job, you must be certain that you don’t belong or fall under the population at risk of COVID 19. Being a delivery driver means that you will likely be having physical contact with different people every day; this makes it a pretty risky job to take on at the moment, given the current state of things.

If, after weighing your options, you decide to do the job, you have to take precautionary measures to keep you protected from the virus.

Aside from food delivery, you can also deliver packages as well, visit websites like Amazon Flex and Goshare to get paid to deliver packages for them.

Online Tutoring Jobs

This is another job that is experiencing an increase in demand as a result of the pandemic. With schools closed, most parents are in search of online tutors to help their kids learn from home. If you are passionate about a particular subject and feel confident in your ability to pass your knowledge to your students patiently, this job is just perfect for you.

Getting an online tutoring job is pretty easy. You’ll find many websites online dedicated to connecting tutors with students. You can find online tutoring gigs from sites like Tutor.comChegg Tutors, Manhattan Prep, and lots more.

Freelance Writing

Even though the knock-on effects of the pandemic have hit many industries, freelance writing is one job that has not experienced any decline. If anything, the pandemic seems to be accelerating its growth.

If you love writing, you can make $20-$55 an hour working from home as a freelance writer. All you need is a smartphone or computer and internet access, and you are good to go. Some employers pay per word with a rate of $0.005 to $0.06; thus, how much you earn is largely determined by your speed. 

To excel in this job, you have to be a creative writer who can write high-quality content on different topics. If you are new to freelancing, you can surf the net for articles on how to be a successful freelance writer.

There are many freelance writing websites where you can get freelance writing jobs, including FreelancerUpwork, Writer Access, and Verblio.

Uber Driver

If you have a car and a good driving record, this could be another convenient job you can do to make money during the winter break. Rides are usually in high demand during festive seasons as people move from one place to another, visiting friends and family members.

However, the current situation has made people more skeptical about taking cabs because it brings them in close physical contact with other people, which puts them at a higher risk of contracting the virus. This is why most people opt for Uber, a more convenient and safer means of transportation. 

You can earn $5-$43 an hour driving for Uber. One good thing about this job is that you can work at your own pace.

Christmas Light Removal

One of the most beautiful things about winter breaks is the Christmas decorations, which light up every home with lovely, beautiful colors. Setting up Christmas lights is always so much fun, but it can be a challenging task for many when it’s time to take them down. This is why most people prefer to pay others to get this job done.

You can leverage this opportunity by simply helping people around your neighborhood to take down their Christmas lights and other decors; you’ll earn a little extra cash doing so.

Pet or House Sitting

This has always been a common winter job for students. The holiday period is when most people travel; in some cases, the whole family might be away for a long time. Most homeowners are willing to pay to have someone watch over their homes and pets while they are away.

You can offer to help people feed and their pets, water their flowers, empty the garbage, and do other house chores for them while they are away.

Proof Reading And Editing

With so many companies working remotely due to the covid-19 pandemic, there is an increase in demand for proofreaders and editors. You can easily make $12-$50 by helping companies proofread and edit their works.

Many companies will pay you to proofread their blog and social media posts to ensure that they are free from any typographical, spelling, or grammatical errors.

You can get proofreading and editing jobs from sites like Editor WorldProofreading Pal, and Cactus.

Transcription Jobs

This is another job you can do from home. With the staggering increase in online video content, the demand for transcription services is accelerating by the day. You can earn at least $20 per hour, helping companies to transcribe audio to text. If you are fast at transcribing, this could be a great job for you.

Conclusion

The COVID 19 pandemic has greatly altered the world of work, it’s just like a double-edged sword. On one hand, it has led to the loss of so many jobs (especially formal jobs in the traditional office setting). On the other hand, it has created a demand for new jobs as companies adopt remote work to keep their employees safe. College students may find it difficult to get regular student jobs this winter. However, there are many other jobs that they can do, as highlighted above.

Best Checking Accounts For College Students

As a college student, you’ll likely struggle financially. Even if you manage to obtain and work a part-time job, the expenses may seem overwhelming. Every penny counts so it is pertinent to make sure that you properly manage your money. One way to solve this issue is by taking advantage of a checking account.

With a checking account, you’ll benefit from the interest rate and you’ll have a safe place to store your money. Below, you’re going to learn about the best checking accounts for college students.

  • BBVA Free Checking
  • Radius Bank Rewards Checking
  • Chime Free Checking

BBVA Free Checking

BBVA Free Checking

While BBVA is not as well-known as Bank of America and some of the alternatives, it offers excellent free checking accounts for college students. BBVA Free Checking is available across the nation so you can sign up for an account whether you’re at the University of Tennessee or Stanford University. Furthermore, the bank boasts an impressive network of ATMs. There is a good chance that you’ll be able to find an ATM close to your dorm. The bank has 55,000 ATMs across the United States.

Even better is the fact that the free checking option is excellent for college students since the requirements are slim to none. The minimum opening deposit is $25 which is reasonable for all university students. Furthermore, there is no minimum balance requirement and no monthly service charge.

While BBVA has an impressive offering for college students, it has some limitations too. One of the most notable is the fact that it offers no interest so you’re not going to earn any money. There are no ATM fees when you use a BBVA USA ATM but it’ll cost roughly $3 per transaction when using an ATM out of your bank’s network.

Either way, BBVA is a good choice for students looking for an easy online banking solution with the bottom of the barrel minimums.

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Radius Bank Rewards Checking

Next, you have Radius Bank which offers the unique Rewards Checking Account. It will prove to be compatible with college students because it has a low minimum and a user-friendly banking app. One thing that sets Radius apart from the competition is the fact that it pays interest. If you maintain a balance between $2,500 and $99,999, you’ll receive 0.10% APY. If you maintain a balance of over $100,000, you’ll receive an interest of 0.15%.

Radius also offers 1% bank on all debit card purchases making it a good choice for college students who want to be rewarded for spending money. The bank offers unlimited ATM reimbursements as well as mobile check deposits. This makes it one of the most convenient banks for students at any university. While the Radius Bank Reward Checking Account is impressive, it has a few minor cons.

For starters, students will need at least $100 before they can open an account. While the interest is helpful, it will not be accessible to all. You’ll need a minimum average balance of $2,500 or $2,500 in direct deposits before you can earn interest. Other than that, there are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.

If your account drops below $2,500, you don’t have to worry about it being closed. Also, Radius has worked diligently to expand its ATM network over the years. It joined the MoneyPass Network a few years ago so members can take advantage of fee-free ATM withdrawals at more locations.

This provided users will access to 32,000 more fee-free withdrawal ATMs and 3,000 more deposit-taking ATMs. The only real con is the fact that you’ll need $100 to open an account but that shouldn’t be too difficult for the average college student.

Chime Free Checking

Chime Free Checking

Long gone are the days of paid checking. Several decades ago, consumers were required to pay varying fees for checking accounts. The American financial system has undergone many alterations over the last few decades, resulting in free checking. Now, U.S. consumers can combine their savings and checking into single accounts and still avoid fees.

While fairly new, Chime has one of the most advanced, mainstream banking systems. Chime features checking and saving accounts with no fees, which is not unusual in the modern-day financial system. But, unlike some financial institutions, Chime does not require its customers to keep a specific amount of money in their accounts. The no-minimum balance is what draws American consumers to Chime checking but this is only the beginning.

Another benefit of Chime checking is expedited deposits. Chime checking account holders are guaranteed to receive their deposits in as little as 48 hours. This is ideal for college students relying on part-time jobs to pay their living expenses. From the second your employer deposits your paycheck into your checking account, Chime begins to process the payment to ensure the most expedient deposit.

Chime’s SpotMe feature is extremely popular among college students because it offers a $20-overdraft withdrawal with zero monetary penalties. If you are short on cash and need gas to get back and forth to campus, you can utilize your debit card to cover the expense without concern about future overdraft fees. The $20 can be utilized as an emergency fund in between paychecks.

An additional benefit of Chime’s SpotMe overdraft waver is its customizable capability. Chime checking account holders have the option to customize their SpotMe overdraft limit from $20 to $40 or $60, $80, or $100. To qualify, your account must be in good standing.

Conclusion

Ultimately, college students from across the United States need a reliable checking account. However, choosing one will prove to be very difficult since your options are plentiful and all banks are unique. So, which checking account is best for modern college students in America? While BBVA Free Checking has some cons, it is likely the best choice for college students. It is impossible to beat the minimum opening deposit and the minimum balance requirement is outstanding. Plus, there are no monthly fees to worry about.

The only downside is that members of BBVA Free Checking will not benefit from interest payments. While Radius is better in this regard, most students will never have enough money to meet the interest threshold. So, BBVA Free Checking is the winner of the pack.

Should you use a Challenger bank over your bank?

digital Challenger bank

Challenger banks are what they say on the tin: a challenge to traditional banks. They pose as a challenge, or a threat because they’re up and coming with a different approach to banking.

By nature of being rebellious, they’re young businesses. They threaten the status quo of banking because they offer a new take on banking procedures, infrastructure and services. Generally, you’ll find much cheaper currency exchange fees, more tech-heavy usability and much faster sign up processes. 

Start-ups in this field have a very good understanding of what ticks us off about traditional banks, and they’ve engineered a way to overcome such bureaucracy, high priced and ancient UI.

With incredibly easy sign-ups, super speedy transactions and innovative technology, it’s not difficult to see why they’re on the rise. There’s no doubt that traditional banks are becoming extremely weary of this trend, and it may be the threat they need to evolve a stuck-in-the-past, complacent service.

How popular are challenger banks?

To no surprise, there are a growing number of challenger banks. Of course, they’ve not replaced traditional banks in either quantity or userbase (yet?), but they’re on the rise nonetheless.

What’s interesting though, is that this has been the story in Europe. In America? Not so much.

They’re popular in most of the world in fact, particularly in Europe in places with a strong fintech scene. London is perhaps the birthplace of the most prominent challenger banks, with Monzo, Starling and Tandem being situated there. With a 5 minute in-app sign-up process, these are becoming extremely popular and seem to be slowly replacing traditional banks.

It’s strange then that the US hasn’t really welcomed them with open arms, and haven’t been producing many themselves. It’s thought that US companies are focused on payment solutions instead of bank accounts, as they have more scope for profits and fewer regulations. This surely applies to most countries, though.

The real answer lies in the distrust of startups. In Germany and the UK, customers don’t think twice about trusting fintech’s with their money, in conjunction with having faith in government-backed deposit protection regulations. Americans it seems don’t have the same trust. 

It seems that although payment startups are trusted, a little more time (or value offered?) is needed for mobile banks.

Despite this, one of the largest challenger banks, N26, has launched into the US (with 100,000 wait-listed US customers ready to pounce), along with Monzo set to enter the US too. There already some domestic US challenger banks to choose from, although they’re certainly not in their stages of maturity yet.

The advantages of challenger banks

The thing that challenger banks have over traditional banks is their lack of infrastructure. This sounds like a disadvantage, but it means they can react faster to changes. Traditional banks have huge sunk costs, with many different departments to attend to, making them always a bit behind. When tech is at the foundation of a business instead of brick and mortar capital, you can be fluid in the market.

The innovation of technology has perhaps been its strongest point so far. The services they provide are highly customizable. You can find yourself creating saving spaces – virtual spaces that are safe from spending. These can be saving pots for different areas of your life, allowing you to budget better.

And it’s secure because you can freeze your card with a simple click in the app, as well as limit certain spending like gambling or ATM withdrawals. There are fewer fees, more transparency, and an overall feeling of clean efficiency because they don’t have their hand in a million different departments.

The largest benefit for small companies and those who like to travel is the cheap fees of challenger banks. For Americans (and Europeans), N26 is one of the strongest options. If we take them as an example, then for no monthly account fee, you can benefit from free card payments in any currency. This is profoundly advantageous, and completely embarrasses traditional banks which charge flat fees on top of huge 4% currency spreads on any foreign purchase.

And with many challenger banks, you can also withdraw from a foreign ATM for no extra cost, and receive a second-to-none exchange rate. This on its own is what sets them apart, and is the reason why expats are in love right now. Many companies (such as Transferwise in the UK) even go as far to call their debit cards as “borderless cards”, because that’s exactly what they are – complete and utter frictionless foreign spending and money transfers.

Disadvantages

For many users, it can be difficult to author some drawbacks of using them. Of course, though, the reality is that nothing is perfect.

Firstly, they’re smaller companies. This smaller, more malleable infrastructure is their greatest asset, but it also means they’re less reputable. They feel less safe. They’re of course fully regulated, but their smallness means they might not inspire credibility.

They’re somewhat limited too. Many people like dealing with one entity and building a relationship with them. Traditional banks may have debit cards, credit cards, mortgages, various savings and student account and so on. Challenger banks are very much for one job and whilst they do it well it may not be suitable for those who want to go in-store, build a relationship and rely on them for all financial aspects of their life.

Personal preference is one thing, but what’s important here is that it’s important for the US to be more accepting of challenger banks. Choice is at the core of free America, and what better way to increase that than to threaten traditional banks with innovative technology?

What is a FICO Score and How Will the New FICO Score Affect You?

FICO score

For most of us, debt is a fact of life. It’s not hard to understand why – post-secondary education expenses have ballooned over the past 40 years. Back in 1980, tuition, fees, and accommodation cost about $9,400 (in 2020 dollars). Today, that figure is nearly two-and-a-half times higher, sitting just below $24,000.

Meanwhile, wages haven’t budged much over time. In 1980, the federal minimum wage sat at $3.10 – or $9.70 in 2020 dollars. Today, Washington State has the highest minimum wage in the country at $13.50. Meanwhile, states like Idaho still allow employers to pay as little as $7.25 an hour. That’s right – some of us make $2/hour less than our parents did 40 years ago.

Suffice to say, many of us borrow tons of cash to pay for post-secondary schooling. According to CNBC, more than two-thirds of 2018 graduates needed loans to pay for their degrees. This isn’t just some rite of passage – it’s something that could seriously impact your creditworthiness down the road.

Recently, banks have been tightening lending standards in response to the COVID crisis. This development has negatively impacted FICO scores. Because of this, many institutions are leaving behind many would-be borrowers.

However, FICO has recently announced a new credit assessment tool – the Resilience Index. What will it mean for college students and graduates? We’ll explore this issue in-depth in today’s post.

What Is A FICO Score?

FICO scores are statistics used by lenders to assess the legitimacy of a borrower. “FICO” is an acronym for the Fair Isaac Corporation, a data analytics firm based in San Jose, California. They debuted the FICO score in 1989; shortly after that, it became the gold standard for determining creditworthiness.

The Fair Issac Corporation determines your FICO score by assessing five indicators of credit risk. These are as follows: The length of one’s credit history, credit utilization, the number of accounts held, recently opened accounts, and payment history.

After assessing your finances against these factors, FICO then assigns you a score. It runs, oddly enough, from 300 to 850. FICO and most lenders consider anything below 580 to be poor. On the other hand, anything above 800 is deemed exceptional.

Few borrowers have a FICO score that is truly bad or exceptional. Most lenders deem a FICO score between 670 to 739 to be a “good” score. However, FICO occasionally changes the weighting of their variables. As such, even borrowers that maintain consistent credit characteristics can have their FICO scores change significantly.

The FICO Resilience Index is one change that could have a significant impact on scores. We’ll break down what it means later. But before we do, let’s address a common question: Can a bad FICO score really impact your life negatively? To be frank, yes.

How Can Your FICO Score Impact Your Finances?

Lenders aren’t the only entities that check credit scores. From phone companies to your landlord, scores of firms do. In other words, if your FICO score tanks, your life can quickly become a living hell.

Let’s start with your bills. If your credit score is low (but not terrible), it can affect the interest rates you pay. Those with scores that slip below 670 may notice a rise in the rate on their credit cards. Need to go back to school for a graduate degree? If you have a “fair” credit score, interest on private student loans can get as high as 14.5%. In both cases, double-digit interest rates can result in monthly payments hundreds of dollars higher than those with good credit.

Are you trying to land that first significant role? Playing fast and loose with your credit can make it tough to get a well-paying, prestigious job.  According to the Society for Human Resources Management, 47% of employers admitted to running credit checks on potential hires. Many fear those with bad credit will “help themselves” to company funds or sell trade secrets.

Worst of all, a bad credit score can make it tough to keep a roof over your head. Increasingly, landlords require credit checks from applicants. If you don’t meet a lender’s minimum FICO score, the application process usually ends there. Often, this situation forces those with lousy credit to seek out a roommate. Sometimes, these living arrangements work out. Much of the time, though, they can prevent you from living your best life.

When It Comes To FICO Scores, Every Decision Matters

Often, measures taken against those with bad credit make sense. Businesses don’t want to lose money. Companies don’t want to hire dishonest employees. And landlords want dependable tenants.

There’s just one problem – as a young person, making even one mistake can screw everything up. As someone fresh out of school, you already have one strike against you. If you have a credit card, you’ve probably haven’t had one for long.

You also lack employment experience. It can be hard to find work, and when you do, you may not make all that much. If you miss one credit card, car, or student loan payment, it can have a disproportionate impact on your FICO score.

As such, we implore you – take this topic seriously. Yes, it’s okay to make spontaneous plans and enjoy your youth – but only if you’re able to pay your bills first. If your finances are drum-tight, focus on increasing your earning power/cutting expenses first. Then, save up a “fun fund” that can pay for spur-of-the-moment adventures.

This way, you can make the most of your twenties without compromising more expensive goals (e.g., homeownership) later on in life.

The FICO Resilience Index: Good Or Bad For College Students?

As if worrying about your FICO score wasn’t bad enough, a new metric has arrived on the scene. Recently, outlets like CNBC have reported on the latest tweak FICO has made to its credit reporting. In June, the agency announced the introduction of the FICO Resilience Index. In brief, this scale assesses the resiliency of borrowers to economic shocks.

Unlike past updates, the FICO Resilience Index isn’t a reconfiguration of how it determines FICO scores. Rather, it is a standalone measure that assigns borrowers a score from 1 to 99. The lower your score, the more resilient you are to recessions, sudden job loss, etc. The higher your score, the greater the likelihood you’ll miss payments, or default on loans when things sour.

Unlike traditional FICO scores, which punish the young more harshly for making mistakes, the Resilience Index could be a godsend. That one missed payment three years ago won’t dog you as much anymore. If you’ve managed to stock up an abundant emergency fund and paid down your debts, the Resilience Index would judge you more fairly.

At a time where uncertainty has never been higher, we feel the Resilience Index is a better judge of creditworthiness. In the past, a strong cash position didn’t factor in the computation of your FICO score. Now, this vital stat could help you get better interest rates, find work, and improve your living situation.

The Better Your FICO Number, The Better Off You’ll Be

We’re happy to see the implementation of the Resilience Index. Thanks to this measure, those who have a mostly trouble-free credit record will pay lower interest rates and face less discrimination. However, it’s still important to practice financial prudence, especially in these times.

By spending less than you take in, you’ll avoid overdraft fees and missed bill payments. As a result, your score will climb higher as months and years go by. Interest rates will fall, you’ll find it easier to rent desirable apartments, and you’ll get better job offers.

By focusing on things within your control, you can shape your financial future. Choose wisely.          

The Best “At Home” Jobs For Students Who Don’t Want COVID Exposure

Best “At Home” jobs For Students

For half of us, working from home is ideal. Whether this is because you’re an unsociable person or because working in retail just isn’t worth the risk of COVID, self-sufficiency is important. The reality of getting a job during a pandemic and economic instability isn’t great, but the outlook on working from home is actually looking up.

Here are the 10 best jobs you can do from home this summer:

1.   Tutoring

With schools being closed, many parents will be looking to home-school their children. To keep them brushed up on their Maths, Economics or whatever it may be, paying a tutor for online classes is their go-to option right now. Or, if you’re looking to teach English, parents in China pay a very handsome sum – but beware, the hours are odd.

2.   Content Writer

There’s always content to be written, no matter the political or sociological climate. The beauty of content writing is that it can be for any student, no matter what they’re studying. Your best bet is to try and get started on Upwork, and then contact businesses and outlets directly after having built up a portfolio.

3.   Customer Service

Given that most businesses have turned to working from home, even more customer interaction is done online at the moment. This is why there are so many opportunities to work in online customer service, such as answering customers on the Live Chat, or on emails or even social media. Pay usually isn’t very high, but then the work isn’t very hard…

4.   Video Editor

If you have great video editing skills or animation experience, then freelance work is a great option. This market is only growing, particularly because social media (Youtube in particular) is being watched even more due to lockdown. There are lots of medium-sized channels out there looking for extra editing support, and pay a fair amount.

5.   Programming and IT

Programming is an extremely general term, but it’s included because the opportunities are also a wide net. Money will be made from whatever you’re good at. Backend developers and database engineers will get better money and have less competition than front end, but you’re best off checking for yourself. Type the language or software that you’re an expert in to Fiverr or Upwork and see what kind, how many, and what pay the job posts that arise are.

6.   Virtual Assistant

There are a lot of virtual Assistant jobs online, and all you need for them is some general, basic IT skills as well as good soft skills. You’ll often get at least the US minimum wage for sending emails, data entry and other basic admin tasks.

7.   Translation work

If you’re fluent in two or more languages, then you’re almost guaranteed to be able to find some translation work. The pay can vary, but this is a good way to keep on top of your writing or speaking skills in both languages. Plus, if you’re fast at reading and typing, you can earn good money. If you’re not bilingual, you can still make money transcribing English audio. You have to be a fast and accurate touch typist, but you can easily make $20 per hour.

8.   Start a website and create a brand

If you’re able to do almost any of the above, or perhaps you’re just looking to start a blog, then creating a website and branding it is a fantastic use of time. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to sell writing services, photographs, programming, tutoring… Building up a following on social media and developing a website will be an exercise in SEO, branding, and many other skills that will look great on your CV — and maybe you can start monetizing it within a few months.

9.   Drop Serving

If you’re entrepreneurially inclined, there’s certainly some opportunities in dropshipping. It’s like Drop Shipping, only not with physical products. So, when you receive payment on your website for services, such as web building or graphic design, you outsource the work to someone else — so you’re just the middleman. It takes some time setting up, but it can scale much larger than the other options.

10. Rent out what you’re not using

Okay, so this is only one that isn’t a “job” per se, but it’s a good money-making opportunity. There’s plenty of things that Coronavirus has put an abrupt end to, and these are the things you could be renting out. For example, public transports have been mostly put on hold, and you’re likely not using your car much right now — so why not rent it out? Likewise, you can also rent out your parking space too.

At the end of the day, it will heavily depend on what skills you have and what you’re studying for. The best paid jobs will be skill-specific, so you’re best off leveraging what you’re studying for and try to work freelance (i.e. web developer, bookkeeper, graphic designer, and so on).

How to Create a Simple Budget While in College and to Tweak it so it Will Fit ME

create a simple budget

Every student could benefit from a budget. When in college, money is a particularly scarce resource, as is your time. Working side jobs can be difficult, and working too many hours will only compromise your grades. Whilst you need enough to survive, a better way to look at it might be how to reduce your spending rather than how to earn more money. Afterall, money-making can be done once your degree is in your hands.

Budgets are the best way to achieve this. Following a spending plan can help minimize debt and overspending on less-than-necessary things. It may even lead to mindset differences, such as becoming more minimal and more appreciative of the smaller things in life.

The problem with researching the topic of budgeting

The issue is that everyone’s circumstances are different. Finding budgets online is a nightmare. Templates are an issue because they will likely consist of a bunch of things that you don’t have, like mortgage repayments and rental income. Whilst you can adapt them, you will have to add in things specific to you as well as remove items (and perhaps whole sections). The process is kind of pointless.

What’s more important is to really understand your own situation and spending patterns, and then making a budget from scratch, bespoke to you, will not take very long. Plus, filling in manually every type of spending that you have might be a wake-up call that’s needed.

How to create your own budget

Creating a budget doesn’t have to take long. In fact, it can be done in an afternoon with just a few steps. If you have more time to spare though, you can add in some extras (step 5) that will make your life easier and enhance the effectiveness of the budget.

Step 1: Income

The first step is to determine what your income is. This is easier to calculate than your spending, so it comes first. It should be a relatively steady number: living cost loan income, income from working, parental help, and so on. Find out what your income will be for the near future, or until the end of college if possible. Of course, use your after-tax income here for simplicity, unless you have a small business in which you want to track expenses within this same budget.

Step 2: Track spending

This isn’t about guessing what things you’re likely to buy next month, this is about tracking what you actually buy. The issue with forecasting items is that you’re prone to underestimating. Things constantly pop up, whether it’s getting college books or new clothes. It’s best to just track what you actually spend for a couple of months, then you’ll know for sure what the average month looks like. 

This doesn’t have to mean delaying your budget creation either. You can literally just open up your bank statements and reconcile them. Go through and write a note next to each spending. Even if you can only identify 75% of them, this means that you will need less time tracking them physically, meaning you can get started sooner.

Step 3: Goals

The point of a budget isn’t the budget itself, it’s to better reach a goal. Think carefully about why you want a budget. Is it so you can pay off more of your college debt? Is it to save up for a 6-month traveling experience? Whatever it is, write down a handful of meaningful goals.

SMART goals are best, too. This means making them specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. For example, a poor goal would be to “have lots of savings in the future”. A better goal would be, “build a $4,000 emergency fund by July 2021”.

The reason this is step 3 and not 2 is because “track spending” is a function of goal-setting. In other words, your goals must take into account of your spending. It’s impossible to completely turn your spending on its head and set unrealistic goals. 

Step 4: Set parameters

This is the fun/daunting part; the budget itself. Now that you have an idea of what you actually spend, and what your fixed, unavoidable costs are, you can start to set parameters on your variable costs. 

If you have optimistic goals though, don’t shy away from being ruthless on your fixed costs. For example, running a car may seem like an unavoidable fixed cost, but you should think carefully about whether it really is. 

Most college students live close to or inside the campus. Having a bicycle may be the more healthy, environmentally friendly lifestyle choice that could save thousands per year.

Step 5: The spreadsheet itself

Now that you’ve created your budget, you want to represent it on a spreadsheet effectively. Downloading templates and copying them is one way to do this, but alternatively, you can play around with it yourself and learn some valuable Excel skills.

For example, you may want to use conditional formatting to change the colors of the cells depending on their value. This is how you make your balance appear in red when it goes below zero, for example.

Likewise, you want to set borders around sections, instead of having prose of messy information. You could use different pages for different sections too, and have the main page that represents and pulls in all the data together.

If you want an easier way to input data into the sheet (i.e. input each purchase you make as you go), then you can make use of forms. Google forms (inputted into Google Sheets) are an easy way to do this — you simply make a small Q&A where you type in the data and hit enter. This will be submitted to the budget. The link to the form can even be placed on your mobile home screen.

Lastly, formulas are important to learn too. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you want to automate the calculations as much as possible so there are few mistakes. “=SUM” will perhaps be your most used formula.

How To Create Your Own Online Tutorial Channel For Private Lessons

Create Your Own Online Tutorial Channel

If you’re an expert in a field or have a passion for a certain skill or craft, then sharing this with the world can be extremely rewarding. You may find yourself with a following quicker than you expect, and hearing back the positive comments of their success in your teaching can be inspiring. Not to mention, this is a project used by many college students to help fund themselves — many top Youtubers earn more than top athletes.

Step 1 – Topic choice

Ideally, you will either have a really strong passion for something or just be exceptionally good at communicating and breaking down a topic (or even better… have both). This could be in Calculus, crochet, carpentry, watch making, Python programming, and so on. A camera (or screen recorder) and a decent mic are all you need. If you’re serious about making the channel, then invest in a decent mic (avoid anything under $50) and learn some basic audio editing — this is extremely important for user experience.

Step 2 – Youtube channel > Personal website

First and foremost, you will need a Youtube channel. You may want a website of your own too, like the incredible Justin Guitar tutorial entity, but even with his set of courses and tutorials, its foundation is on Youtube. It’s easy to embed Youtube videos on your own channel for a start, and still reap those monetary rewards. Creating a Youtube channel takes all of 5 minutes, just make sure to have a Google account.

Step 3 – Content

Whatever topic you opt for, stick with it. It will be counterproductive to cover two types of tutorials for the same channel (i.e. gardening and investing). If you have two topics, create two different channels. It’s advised to put all your energy into one for the first few months though, to prevent spreading yourself too thin. That way your second channel can avoid the mistakes you made in the first one.

When creating content, have a strategy in mind. Plan out your first 10 to 20 tutorials to prevent them from being random. It’s not a prerequisite, but it’s preferable to publish them in some sort of order. This is so there’s a logical “in the next video”, so viewers stay on your channel. This will quickly turn into a course. 

If you have some separate content you haven’t published, you can create bonus content. This could be accessed only by patreons or perhaps collated into a paid course on your website. By this point, you will already have an audience, so it’s only natural to monetize away from Youtube as well as on-site.

Step 4… Profit?

In order to reap any monetary rewards, you will need to be in this for the long haul. Before you can even get accepted for monetization on Youtube, you will need 1,000 subscribers. In order to get this, one incredible video will not do it. You will need regular, useful content. If users find your video useful for solving their problem, they will likely click on your channel for related videos. Because of this, do not hold back content. If it’s ready to publish, put it out there ASAP.

For a side project, you may only want a couple of hundred bucks from this. This is entirely achievable with even only a few thousand subscribers. Why? Because subscriber count isn’t everything. It’s great to have but viral videos tend to be seen by more non-subscribers than subscribers. Just make sure you understand basic SEO and how the Youtube algorithm works.

The most basic form of monetization is ads on Youtube videos. These don’t produce a ton, because many people have adblocker these days. A way around this is to include promotions in the videos themselves (i.e. the intro). If you’re doing English lessons, for example, you could have affiliate links in the bio and in the video to an English learning app, where you get a cut of every person that uses it to pay for the app.

If you want to avoid being viewed as spammy or perhaps you feel the channel needs to keep a high standard of impartiality for whatever reason, you could simply ask for patreon donations. Remember, 20% of your following could account for 80% of your profit — so don’t just chase the view counts, keep your cult following happy.

Example Youtube tutorial channels to learn from

  • Justin Guitar — Justin Guitar, of course, makes guitar tutorials. He put out a high volume of Youtube tutorials before making a website which helped structure these into courses. He now has an IOS and Android app, which was probably not as much effort as it sounds, seeing as all the content was already made on Youtube.

— 903K subscribers, outputs ~20 videos per year for 11 years

  • Corey Shafer — Having started 5 years ago, Corey made Python tutorials. Many old ones are low view counts, but because of his incredibly concise explanations and structured tutorials, he pretty much created the best A to Z Python course for beginners that you can find.

— 482K subscribers, started 5 years ago, posts irregularly (~35 times per year)

  • Khan Academy — Quite possibly the king of Youtube education. Khan academy seems to have tutorials for almost anything your high school or college would throw at you. Maths, economics, sciences. Khan created an empire, organizations (for free courses), apps… anything you can think of.

5.53m subscribers, started 13 years ago with a high output, with incredible visual learn methods

  • King’s Fine Woodworking — if you’re not an academic genius or coding wizard, it doesn’t matter. This channel represents that functional skills, such as building things with wood, can make for a great tutorial channel. Plus, they can be completely independent videos, not a sequential course. This can make it more fun

— 196k subscribers, started only 3 years ago, 1 to 2 videos per month

  • ATHLEAN-X — Here is a great example of how image, branding, confidence, and being good at what you do can lead to. ATHLEAN-X is prolific in posting and is estimated to earn $5,000 per day from ads alone.

— 9.66m subscribers, posts a couple times per week for the last 10 years (lower frequency in older videos).

The Best Online Platforms to Raise Money for Your Project or Idea

Best Online Platforms to Raise Money

Crowdfunding can be a great way to raise finances for a young company. By taking little from the many, crowdfunding’s popularity comes from the additional benefits it provides, not just the funding itself.

Firstly, is profoundly more efficient than traditional financing. You get full autonomy and the freedom to put your message across in the exact way you want it to. The platform (and picking the right one is important!) will serve as a place in which you can build social traction and generate more substance and proof – proof in the form of social backing. People want to jump on board of what’s going to be popular – and what better way to show its gaining popularity.

On top of this, you’re not claiming that it’s the finished product. With more isolated funding paths, you’re alone in your design. Crowdfunding, however, can give more opportunity for feedback, perhaps in the form of sending backers some prototypes. The loyalty of early advocates can be rather profound and can stick with you for the long-term.

How do you prepare for the fundraising?

Seeing as this is just as much a marketing opportunity as it is a funding one, you want to ensure you succeed at both.

Research, research, and more research

At the stage of preparing for a crowdfund, your product and idea research should already be finished. This is your opportunity to fully understand the scale and benefits of crowdfunding, along with strategies and what makes a successful campaign.

Picking the correct platform

Choosing the right platform is crucial. There are many factors to consider here, not just the benefits and disadvantages of each but which ones perform best in certain niches and which ones are focused on certain industries. 

Target audience

Understanding the wants and needs of the target audience is important. You’re going to not only figure out exactly the target audience (you should already know this) but perform comprehensive research on understanding them.

Goal setting

Make sure you don’t aimless begin a campaign without having SMART goals in mind. This means the amount you want raised, timelines, quantity of backers and so on.

Prepare the content

Ahead of launch, you want to prepare all of the marketing content so it’s ready to go. This includes planning what tools you’re going to use (perhaps a promotional video over a presentation?) and then get to work. it may also be a good idea to outsource the parts that could be better done by a specialist, as this can really enhance the effectiveness of the crowdfunding campaign. This of course isn’t a necessity if you’re at college and on a budget, as this may be your chance to show and prove your own creativity.

Communicate effectively

Not only should you communicate in a personal way (a good strategy to enhance relationships and feelings towards your idea or product) but also keep the communication on-going. This means being transparent and letting them know all the details. Hiding any information will likely soon be discovered and the word will spread. Honesty is key to gaining sustained social traction. This also means taking feedback on board and recognizing it.

Top 5 crowdfunding sites to help you fund your college project

Kickstarter

Kickstarter is by far the largest crowdfunding site. Its size means that there is instant credibility there to some degree, as well as it having a huge potential traffic and audience reach. The downside to using Kickstarter however is that the money is not kept if the goal isn’t reached – so it’s kind of an all-or-nothing scenario. Kickstarter takes 5% of the total funds raised in fees, as well as payment processing fees.

Patreon

Patreon is another huge platform, but it operates very differently to Kickstarter. The key difference is that it’s a subscription-based model, meaning you’re drip-fed funding each month. No one will take the money away from you if a goal isn’t reached, and monthly funding is great for cash flow. This has less viral opportunity, and instead is more of a network of charitable on-going support (there are opportunities to give Patreon supporters exclusive goods, services and content though). Patreon take 5%–12% of processed payments. This is the preferred method by the Youtube creators.

GoFundMe

GoFundMe is another big hitter which is great for quick funding. GoFundMe crowdfunds tend to be more focused on short-term projects. There is a very standard 2.9% processing fee as well as $0.30c for every donation. This is cheaper than Kickstarter’s 5% processing fee. GoFundMe has seen many successful campaigns that have ran into the millions. However, 0% of funding fees is charged on personal campaigns, unlike Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

CircleUp

CircleUp is perhaps your best choice if you’re a startup trying to establish a brand. It offers equity capital and credit financing, so this is more professional-centric as opposed to individualized. This is a great choice to scale up, but you have to hit at least $1 million in revenue to list on their site, though this may not be as far away as you think for your project if other crowdfunding campaigns are successful beforehand.

Causes

If your project is a non-profit, then Causes may be your best option. With a focus on social and cultural issues, Causes provides a platform for those who want to make a difference. With almost 200 million users, its global reach is massive and could really help pick up your non-profit and create a movement.