5 Questions With Money Crasher’s Andrew Schrage

Image Credit: Andrew Schrage
Money Crashers was started by two 20-somethings with a vision of building a personal finance site that provided actionable solutions for everyday people. What started out as a small blog has blossomed into an empire, with Money Crashers becoming one of the largest and most respected personal finance sites in existence. Founded by Andrew Schrage and Gyutae Park, Money Crashers provides prudent crash courses on all things fiscal—from money management to investing tips to real estate. These gentlemen strive to teach their audience to not only become financially responsible, but to thrive while doing so. Andrew Schrage was kind enough to answer five of our most incisive questions regarding personal finance.

5 Hindsight is 20/20

Top5: What money advice did you wish you would have known (and taken) at 20?

Schrage: I wish I would have known about the importance of both saving for college and reducing costs during my studies. Working a part time job while in high school is a great way to set aside money for a college education. Attending community college for the first two years can significantly cut the overall cost of higher education. There are also many different ways to save money on textbooks, and college entertainment costs should be kept to a minimum. Every dollar you save during the four years spent in college is one less dollar you have to pay back on student loans.

4 Heeded Advice

Top5: What’s one piece of money advice that’s always stuck with you?

Schrage: Right before I took out my first credit card, my father gave me a very good piece of advice: no matter what, commit to never carrying a credit card balance. He told me that if I couldn’t afford to pay for something completely by the time the bill arrived, then I just couldn’t afford it. For any large purchase that I want to make, I save up enough money so that I can pay for it immediately, rather than paying interest on my credit card.

3 The Low Down on Credit Cards

Top5: What’s the best advice you can give when dealing with credit cards?

Schrage: The best advice I can give when dealing with credit cards it to use them to your advantage and never fall into credit card debt. Find a credit card with the best cash back rewards program relevant to your purchasing habits and put that money toward your balances. Take advantage of the many other benefits credit cards offer, such as added warranty protection, free car rental insurance and other travel-related perks. Commit to never carrying a balance.

2 To Buy or Not to Buy? That Is the Question!

Top5: At what point does it make sense to rent over buying a home?

Schrage: It makes sense to rent instead of buying a home if you don’t plan on being in your place for longer than five years. If you want the flexibility of being able to move around or if you have a job that may require relocation, it’s better to rent. If you don’t want the responsibility of maintaining a home and paying out-of-pocket expenses for home improvements and repairs, renting also makes better sense. If your finances or credit score aren’t in a position to where you can get a good deal on a mortgage, then renting is also a better option.

1 What’s Mine Is Ours?

Top5: When a person gets married, should they immediately combine all of their finances? When does and doesn’t it make sense?

Schrage: Not necessarily—whether or not two people should combine finances upon marriage requires a lot of forethought. The first question to answer is how much you trust your partner. If you’re confident that he or she can manage money and make appropriate spending decisions, there’s nothing wrong with combining finances—but if not, keep them separate. The best way to determine whether finances should be combined is to have a comprehensive discussion about finances with your partner. Talk about spending and saving, as well as retirement savings goals. You may also want to only combine some of your finances: keep one joint account for bill-paying purposes while maintaining other separate accounts.

Worried about borrowing? Take a look at the Top5 Ways to Rebuild Credit without using credit cards.

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