5 Financial Tips for New Graduates
Congratulations on reaching a huge milestone: Graduating college. It takes a lot of time and effort to achieve a college degree. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back.
Now that you have your diploma, it’s time to move on to the next phase of your life: entering the workforce. If that feels scary, don’t worry -- it’s totally normal to be apprehensive when beginning something new. With the help of some personal finance tips, you can set yourself up for success and feel confident that you’re making the right financial decisions.
Here’s how to transition your finances from being a student to thriving in the working world. We’ve selected the most important financial planning tips for college students, whose needs are unique compared to other working adults.
1. Sort out your student loan repayment
The most important financial tip is to determine your plan of action for repaying your student loan, if you have one. Student loans don’t have to drag you down, but it’s tough to make a comprehensive financial plan until you know what you’re dealing with.
Gather up all your loan documents and figure out what you owe. You may have loans from multiple lenders or loan servicers. Determine what your monthly payment is, your overall interest costs (how much it cost you to borrow the money), and how long your repayment period is.
If and when you can, consider paying more toward your loan each month. That will help you get out of debt faster and pay less overall in interest. The sooner you kick that student loan to the curb, the more money you will have to put toward your other goals!
2. Open a checking account
Here’s another important personal finance tip: If you don’t have one already, it’s time to open a checking account. This is where you will deposit your paychecks. You’ll also use your checking account to pay your bills, such as rent, utilities, or anything else.
Look for a checking account with low monthly fees and great benefits. At Consumers National Bank, we offer several different checking accounts to meet your needs. Each account comes with a free MasterCard debit card to use at the ATM or the register, and you’ll get free, nationwide access to MoneyPass ATMs. And if you choose the Brilliant account, you can even earn interest on your balance.
Once you have your checking account in place, you can set up direct deposit for your paycheck. No more fussing with paper checks and trips to the bank: Your money arrives in your account seamlessly every pay period, giving you faster access to your cash.
3. Start an emergency fund
It’s a fact of life that something always comes up. Begin building your emergency fund so that you’re prepared for the unexpected. Set aside a portion of every paycheck, even if it’s small, and then don’t touch those funds until you truly need them.
A great way to save up for emergencies is to open a savings account. By transferring funds to your savings, you can put it out of sight and out of mind, making it less tempting to spend. And then, when surprise costs come up, you’ll have the cash necessary to cover those costs.
When looking for savings accounts, choose one that pays you interest. Personal savings accounts at Consumers National Bank are easy to set up, and you can even link them to your checking account for overdraft protection. Then you don’t need to worry about accidentally overdrawing your account. If you overdraw, you can cover it easily with your linked savings account. We also offer combined statements, so you can see all of your money details at a glance.
4. Open a retirement account
There’s one more account you should think about opening: a retirement account . Retirement probably feels like a lifetime away, and it is. But all that time will work in your favor if you can put away a little money today.
If your employer offers a 401(k) or similar retirement account, make sure you are signed up. And if they offer employer matching, that means they will match every dollar you save there (up to a certain amount). It’s free money, so it’s the easiest way to start your retirement savings.
However, not every employer will match your contributions -- and there are many employers that don’t offer retirement plans. If that’s the case, don’t worry, you can still save for retirement. You can open an individual retirement account (IRA) and invest that way. An IRA is a type of savings account that can give you major advantages at tax time, and they are simple to set up. At Consumers National Bank, you can choose between a Traditional IRA and a Roth IRA -- each one is a great way to start your retirement journey. The difference is when you will take your tax advantages. A Traditional IRA gives you a tax break now, when you contribute. A Roth IRA gives you a tax break when you retire, because you won’t owe taxes on your withdrawals.
Talk to a specilaist at Consumers National Bank to learn more about which retirement plan is best for your situation.
5. Build your credit score
Finally, with all of your accounts in place, it’s a great time to work on building your credit score. A big part of your credit score is simply repaying your debt on time -- so that’s why it’s important to have your student loan repayments squared away. If you have a car loan, the same thing applies: Make sure you pay your monthly payment on time every single month. Set a reminder on your phone, or set up autopay if that’s easier for you.
Another great method for building credit is using a credit card. The trick to successfully building credit with a credit card is to use the card regularly and then pay your balance on time. If you want to avoid needless interest charges, pay your balance in full every month. You don’t need to carry a balance to build your credit. It’s more important to pay your bills on time.
Consumers National Bank is here to help
Congratulations again on your diploma -- you earned it! Now that it’s time to get your working life in order, let Consumers National Bank help you. Our competitive rates, awesome perks, and low fees make it easy for college grads to get their personal finances in order, too. Contact us today and see how we can help get you set up for the rest of your life.