7 Personal Finance Tips I Wish I'd Known at 17 - Molly's Money Reader Question


  1. I agree with all of these tips, except for credit cards. It’s not a bad idea to get a credit card – just use it for gas (or some small purchase) each month, and pay it off to zero at the end of each month. This will help you build some credit history. Buying a car and making those payments each month also helped build up/strengthen credit history, but that’s a bigger financial undertaking that I put off until my early 20’s.

    Having a strong credit score helped my husband and I buy our home at a reasonably young age. We didn’t need anyone to co-sign the loan because we had strong credit! (Alternatively, my brother had a short credit history, and had to have my parents co-sign the loan when he bought his home, even though he was 100% capable of making his payments).

    Credit cards aren’t all bad, you just need to monitor your spending with them. Don’t buy more than you can pay off each month – pay it down to zero at the end of each month!

  2. Molly touched on this in #5, but I thought I’d expand on the idea of delayed gratification. By saving up in advance so that you have the money for the things you need before you purchase them, you keep yourself out of debt. The other thing that delayed gratification does for you is to allow you time to cool off. I’ve found that there are times that I’ve decided I really want something, but by the time I’ve saved up for it I realize that I’ve gotten along this far without it and don’t really need it.

    Also, knowing how to complete a W-4 and read a pay slip are very important. Unfortunately I see many young people really upset when they do their taxes and owe a great deal of money. When they reach out we generally see that they claimed exempt on their W-4 without understanding what they were marking. They also never looked at their pay slip to see that they weren’t paying taxes. Ask a trusted adult for help with this when you start working to make sure that you’re on top of that.

  3. Number 7! Yes! I worked in a library from high school through college. I made more than minimum wage, but I made nowhere near what I make now (and shouldn’t have!). I learned so much from those jobs and those women I worked with! I love all of these tips, really. Especially the credit card one. That got me in college.

  4. I truly hope she will read this and take every single nugget of wisdom to heart! I’m toying with not letting my kids know their social security number when they get older!! 🙂 Of course I probably won’t do that but I want them to avoid the soul-crushing feeling that is credit card debt!!

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