You did it! You’ve successfully navigated 12 years of education. In a short time, you’ll receive the reward for all of your hard work: a high school diploma and a new level of adult independence. But with independence comes responsibility. At least, it should. Graduating from high school is a major accomplishment. No matter what your next phase of life may be, you should be financially prepared to take a mature approach to your income and spending to ensure a bright, successful future. Below is part one of our two-part series covering financial management tips for graduates! First on the list, tips for high school graduates to ponder before getting booted into the real world.
Create a budget
Good financial health begins and ends with a clear understanding of how much money you’re taking in versus how much you’re spending. It sounds simple, and can be, especially at this stage of life. To get started, spend one month tracking every penny made and every dime spent to gather a clear picture of your financial outlook. Thirty days should give you a good understanding of your financial situation and include regular monthly expenses that you can plan for, such as cell phone bills and car insurance.
Once you have a clear picture of your monthly income and expenses, you can begin budgeting for the year. Monthly budgets should not equate to net zero every month. Keep in mind, some months are better than others. Unexpected financial emergencies such as car repairs can happen at any time. Establish a budget that allows you to save as well as spend comfortably.
Benefits of a part-time job
A key component to that budget you just created is income. Securing a part-time job makes sense after high school—especially if you’re not able to get a full-time job right now due to time constraints like attending college or pursuing other interests such as traveling. Either way, a part-time job can provide a decent income with more flexibility. Another benefit is the experience you gain with part-time employment, which could lead to a full-time opportunity in the future.
Open a checking account
You’ll need somewhere to secure all that hard-earned money, and tucking cash under your mattress isn’t the best plan. Opening a checking account is easy and can typically be done online. Checking accounts vary among financial institutions, so be sure to look at the fine print or talk in detail with a representative. To start the conversation, ask about fees, online banking, debit cards, and minimum account requirements. New graduates should search out accounts with zero fees and low-or-no-minimum balance requirements. Member One offers its Campus Advantage Checking Account for young adults, and as a bonus, our credit union provides free professional advice on money management. Other financial institutions may have similar programs.
It’s never too early to begin saving for the future. Imagine the nest egg you’ll build by the time you retire if you begin putting away money in your teenage years.
Saving for the future
It’s never too early to begin saving for the future. Imagine the nest egg you’ll build by the time you retire if you begin putting away money in your teenage years. Opening a savings account is a responsible first step. Having an account that is separate from your checking account helps you understand exactly how much spending versus savings money you have available. Similar to a checking account, many savings accounts can be opened online, and you should be aware of all associated fees. Some savings accounts will have limits on how often you are able to withdraw funds in a month, so that may be a good place to begin your fee investigation.
Ask for help
Your financial institution of choice shouldn’t just be a place to store your money, it should be a resource for financial management information as well. If you’re confused about certain financial terms, want to know how best to save for a particular expense, or simply want some good advice on budgeting for your future, it’s never too soon to ask. And as the saying goes: There’s no such thing as a stupid question.
Member One is committed to giving graduates a great financial jump-start by offering checking and savings accounts with educational benefits to help people of all ages learn solid banking habits. Our accounts are designed to grow with our customers, from high school to college and beyond. Follow our blog and social media accounts for part two of this series, where we’ll focus on financial management tips for college grads!