Young adults on laptops at library

5 Steps That Make Financial Adulting Easier

Arizona Federal Staff

Turning 18 is a major milestone. You’re officially recognized as an adult. You can vote. Sign a contract. Rent an apartment, or even buy a house. And while there’s no secret to successful adulting, taking five financial steps as you enter young adulthood is a smart way to build a solid foundation for your future.  

1. Put your paycheck on automatic. 

As soon as you start earning a regular paycheck from a part-time or full-time job, set up automatic direct deposits into your checking account. This way, the money you earn is securely deposited and available to you as soon as possible. 


Arizona Federal offers a Checking Plus Account designed especially for young adults. There’s no monthly service fee until age 21 – and free online banking, bill pay, and direct deposit of your paychecks, too. Learn more.


2. Create – and stick to – a budget. 

Adulting comes with regular expenses like gas, car payments, and rent. Map out the money you must spend each month and allocate your income to make required payments first. Then, factor in what you want to save and set aside some money for unexpected expenses and, of course, fun.

When it comes to sticking to a budget, it’s a good habit to use a debit card to pay for day-to-day items and entertainment. Debit cards can be used virtually everywhere and can help ensure you’re not spending more than you have. 

Arizona Federal’s mobile app makes it easy to track your spending – and our debit cards are ready to go for digital purchases or paying back friends using Venmo, Zelle, Paypal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and more. Even better, you can sign up for cash-back rewards earned when you pay with your Arizona Federal debit card at participating merchants. 

3. Get serious about saving. 

Chances are, you have a long-term savings goal – or two. Whether you want to save for college, a car, or a home of your own, start saving as much as you can as soon as you can. 

To make it easy, you can even set up automatic transfers to send money from each paycheck to a dedicated savings account. Saving pays off with regular dividends – aka interest – earned on your savings. Setting aside savings each month adds up to significant amounts in 10, 20, or 30 years.

With Arizona Federal, you can have up to 10 savings accounts, all with easy access to monitor and transfer funds between accounts through online banking or the mobile app. At 18, you also have the option to open a Share Certificate where you allow Arizona Federal to hold a specific amount of your money in savings for a specific timeframe, from six months up to five years. In exchange, you’ll earn higher dividend rates. 

And it’s never too early to start saving for retirement! Consider opening an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) once you turn 18. With a minimum deposit of just $1,000, you can earn dividends and tax advantages as you save for the long term. 

4. Build a strong credit score. 

As you get older, you’ll need loans and credit to finance major purchases like a car or house. In fact, as an 18-year-old, you’re eligible for a car loan through Arizona Federal. One of the best ways to ensure that you’re able to access the funds you need down the road is by building a strong credit score today. A credit score is based on your credit history and is used by lenders and financial institutions to determine how likely you are to pay back a loan on time.

Here's the good news. Building a strong credit history is relatively simple. Start by opening a credit card and using it to make a few purchases each month. Then, pay the credit card bill in full and on time every month. This pattern, over time, will establish a good credit score for when you’re ready to make a significant purchase or apply for a loan. Arizona Federal can help you get started with a secured credit card that’s “secured” by the money in your Arizona Federal accounts. 

5.  Be on the alert.

Protect your hard-earned money, credit score, and identity by regularly monitoring your accounts and adopting smart habits that help you avoid being a victim of financial fraud. 

Today, keeping tabs on your accounts is easy with mobile apps and alerts for unusual spending. Plus, if you lose or misplace your debit or credit card, Arizona Federal’s CardPower™ app enables you to immediately block spending with just a swipe.

In addition, be careful when banking and shopping online. Log off public Wi-Fi to use your mobile banking app or digital payment apps like Venmo or Zelle. And, when making digital payments, make sure you know and trust the person (or company) you’re paying and always double-check that you’ve got the correct payee. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to get the money back once you press “send.”

Finally, your Arizona Federal membership includes ID Protect™ at no charge. By registering, you’ll gain access to credit monitoring, fraud reimbursement, and comprehensive identity theft protection resources.