Financial Advice for High School Graduates
Every year, seniors in high school and college take that next step into the unfamiliar. Some may go off to college, some may enter the work force. Some may be moving far away while others may stick around their hometown. Graduating poses a new challenge for young adults, as most will encounter responsibilities that they may be facing for the first time, especially with their finances. Here are a few pieces of advice on money management for those about to embark on the next step.
Be Mindful of your Spending
Many high school students may have had jobs and have had to earn money already. But, for some, being out on your own and facing new responsibilities like paying rent and bills is a new experience. It’s important that you keep good track of your income and your spending.
If you don’t already have one, you’ll want to get a checking account. Many banks offer online account opening, so you don’t even have to enter the branch. Some people who are going off to college may want to have their parents as a joint signer on the account because this makes it easier for them to send money when they need it. Others may not need their parents to have access to their accounts, and that’s okay, too! It’s now easier than ever to send money digitally. Check with your bank to see if they offer a person-to-person payment feature. C&N’s PeoplePay is our person-to-person that you can find within our mobile app that is essentially a way to text or email money to your friends and family.
Take Advantage of the Features Your Bank Offers
There are many features in your bank’s mobile app or online banking that you may not be aware of that can simplify how you manage your money. One of the easiest ways to keep yourself and your checking account out of trouble is to set up automated alerts. You can set these up as text messages or emails or phone calls, whatever is the best way to receive notifications about your finances, and they can let you know if your balance falls below a certain dollar amount. These can be tailored however you wish, so you’ll want to spend some time to get to know the system.
Some banks also offer a personal financial management tool, such as C&N’s MoneyManager, which makes it very simple to set a budget and track your spending. It will categorize your transactions so you can see if you spent more on gas this month, for instance, or if you spent less on food this week and have a few extra bucks to spend. It takes a lot of the legwork out of setting and tracking a budget, and you can get as detailed as you want with your categorizing. I recommend checking it out if you’re a C&N customer.
If you receive a check from anyone who might send you money, Mobile Deposit is the easiest way to cash it, and it’s very simple to use. You just take a photo of the check anytime, day or night, with your smartphone and upload it in your mobile app. The funds will be deposited into your account in 1 business day. But, let’s say you need money right away and you can’t wait for a check in the mail. We mentioned person-to-person payments earlier, and they really are a great way to send money fast. If you are a C&N customer, you can find PeoplePay in the C&N mobile app, so there’s no need to download a separate app. Being able to text or email money to someone is a secure and reliable way to get them money fast.
Take Care of Your Future
One of the most important things you can do once you’re out on your own is to responsibly establish credit. The key word there is responsibly, because your credit score will follow you throughout your life. One way to do this is to get a credit card, but only use it for necessities and leave room on the card for emergencies. Payoff your balance in full each month, make your payments regularly and on time, and you can easily build up good credit. Establishing and maintaining good credit is one of the most important parts of your financial well-being. If you want to learn more about your credit score and how to improve it, I welcome you to read George Greeley’s article on our C&N Library called “Understanding Your Credit Score.” He goes into detail about why your credit score is important, how you can check your credit score, and what you can do to build and improve your credit score over time so that you set yourself up for future success.
Another thing that most people should be doing is creating an emergency fund. Things will always happen in life. Your car may break down or your computer may need to be repaired. Whatever the case may be, something unexpected will eventually cost you money. Credit cards can certainly bail you out when you’re in a pinch, but remember you still have to pay that money back plus interest. That’s why it’s always good to set money aside. If you’re earning a paycheck, tuck a certain percentage away in a Savings Account and let that sit. You can set up a recurring transaction in your mobile banking so that you never have to manually transfer that money, it’s done automatically for you.
Or you can take advantage of something like C&N’s Debit Card RoundUp, which is a free service that rounds up any purchase you make with your debit card to the nearest dollar and puts that money into an account that you choose. It’s amazing how quickly that can grow! It’s the equivalent of rolling spare change without the extra work. I would highly recommend signing up for something like that if you want to start building savings easily.
The last thing I would like to tell new graduates is to go out and have fun. Venturing out on your own comes with a whole new set of responsibilities, but it’s also a very exciting and adventurous time. Make sure you enjoy it and experience as much as you can.
Leaving high school and setting out on your own is exciting and it may also seem overwhelming. If you’re partnered with the right bank and armed with the right resources, information and tools, you’ll be better prepared to take on new financial challenges. If you’d like to get more tips, tricks and advice about your finances, our C&N experts are always ready to help, or you can visit www.cnbankpa.com for a list of resources like the C&N Library, helpful calculators.
Videography: Andrew Moore
Video Editing: Andrew Moore
Anchor: Johanna Vogt
Correspondent: Rhonda Pearson
Guest(s): Lisa Mann
Produced by Vogt Media
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