NEW YORK (LowCards.com) -- April is tax time as well as National Financial Literacy Month -- two good reasons to look at where you have been and where you are going with your finances.
Unlike weeds or government debt, money does not grow on its own. Building financial security through all stages of life requires a plan and plenty of attention.
Here are some tips for managing money at different stages of life:
- Pay yourself first. Teenagers get money for birthdays, allowance and jobs. Learn early to "pay yourself first" and put some money into a savings or investment account. This is one of the best habits you can develop. Stick to this and you will be surprised how even small sums of money can grow. You can even collect loose change and add to this; every little bit adds up.
- Make a budget. If you don't keep track of your spending, you will not understand where your money goes. Keep a list of every expense, no matter how small. This will make you think twice about the importance of each purchase.
- Save money. If you are single or married without kids, this is the least expensive time of your life. You finally have control of your own money, and it may even feel like a lot. You can spend it all on clothes, cars, furniture and entertainment, or you can spend smartly and save for the future. You may have just graduated from school, but this is best time to plan for retirement. Maximize your retirement accounts, because even though the stock market is volatile, time and compounding growth are on your side.
- Build up your credit score. Test scores are behind you and now is the time to focus on your credit score. This score is more important than any exam because it is how lenders judge you. Your credit score affects the terms and interest rates for all loans -- credit card, mortgage and auto. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rates, resulting in more money you can keep. Your payment history and how you handle money is so important that employers may even look at your credit report during the interview process to help screen applicants who may be unreliable or a risk of theft.