What New Grads Need to Know About Money

As the American economy waivers, it's increasingly important for students to be financially savvy. The majority of high-school and college graduates, however, are ill-prepared to handle the basics of financial management. From credit cards and loans to simple budgets, young consumers are often puzzled, even educated ones. Some experts propose state legislation requiring students to take a personal finance course by the time they graduate from high school. Until then, it's parents' responsibility to teach their kids financial basics and help them make the right choices.

These are key money skills young grads need to know:

  • Track spending. Write down everything you buy for a month to see where and how much you're spending.

  • Budget. Look at your income and spending habits. Allocate for weekly needs, wants, and impulses within your budget. Surprises happen, so let yourself break the budget. Just remember to make up for it in the coming weeks.

  • Use your checking account to help budget and track income and spending. You need to know how to write a check, how to keep a check register, and when to balance your account. Remember there are consequences for overdrawing an account.

  • Remember, credit cards are convenient but risky. Credit means you're borrowing money to repay from future income. Credit is a cost, and making the minimum payments will cost you even more. Credit cards are accepted universally and are good to have in emergencies. They also help establish credit history, so make sure to set personal limits and stick to them.

  • Develop good consumer skills to make money go further. Buy necessities wisely and practice comparison shopping by looking online.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. Mom and Dad, your R.A. (resident advisor), or even a friend can help you sort through your bills and get on the right track.

Need more info? Harvard University Credit Union is here to help. Stop by any of our branch locations today and speak with a helpful representative. You can also email us or call us at (617) 495-4460 for more information.

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