Note to a slightly younger version of myself (this applies to other 16/17/18/19 year-old whippersnappers in the present day as well):
Hey Steve, just a word of advice for you. You're in college now, and your mailbox is flooded with offers from credit card companies. This might surprise you and go against every concept of financial responsibility that your wise, thrifty parents have instilled in you... but I recommend that you sign up for one of them. Not the first one that you get: collect them, compare their benefits and rates, then send in your info to a reputable one that gives you extras along with it (cashback, if possible).
Why do I say this? Well, as discussed earlier, you're a student and the lenders are notoriously willing to extend credit to you. Not a large amount at first, but enough to get your credit score started and you'll be on the right track. And for the love of all that is green and covered with pictures of dead presidents and other American notables, pay off your balance as soon as you can.
"Huh?" you ask. "The track to where?" Ahh, well imagine what happens if once you've graduated college you, like
someone very close to me (edit: OK, me) decide it's time to ask for a loan for a large purchase, say, a single-family home. Or even apply for a reasonably good credit card (with a limit of over, I don't know, a stick of gum, approx.) "Nein! Non! NYET!" say the bankers... "or perhaps we will be so generous... if you supply us your entire financial history, sign seven trillion papers (in triplicate, natch), your firstborn (OK, not really) and accept credit at this maximized interest rate MWAHAHA! HA HAAAHAA HA!!!"
So the lesson of the story is, don't refuse money, even in the plastic, to-be-paid-back-later form, when it's offered to you, because before you know it, you'll be hard-pressed to convince them that you're worth the risk.
Labels: filthy lucre