Preparing for the real world can be a daunting task for a college student and knowing where to begin might seem hopeless. One of the most important things to work on as you begin to contemplate your life after college is building solid financial skills. Having well-grounded financial skills will help you not only personally, but also professionally. Here are some tips to help you get on the right track.
According to Nancy Anderson of Forbes.com, nine out of 10 baby boomers provide their adult children with some kind of financial support. While every parent wants to help their children succeed in life, it’s also important that parents don’t compromise their retirement savings in the process. Teaching their children how to effectively manage their money can make a significant difference – and it’s never too late to start. Some of Anderson’s financial tips include:
Understand the value of the dollar - Especially for college students who are eating at all hours of the day or night, being mindful of their spending is important. Instead of having that pizza delivered from down the road or buying three coffee drinks from the library cafe, try thinking ahead before an all-nighter of studying; pack snacks that you already have on hand and bring a thermos of coffee. The small expenses can quickly add up to a big chunk out of your budget.
Keep a good credit score - As you contemplate moving into the real world, there are things you’ll want to do that your credit score will have an impact on such as renting an apartment, buying a new car, etc. Consider signing up for a credit card with a low spending limit and set ground rules for yourself when it comes to using it to avoid getting yourself into trouble. Parents can consider setting up a joint card while their kids are in college and work together to pay off the balance each month to get a good start on good credit.
Save, save, save
- Putting money into a savings account that you don’t touch is one of the key factors to success; the standard rule is to have approximately six months of expenses saved to ward against the unexpected. Your financial institution may offer the ability to auto-draft money from your checking to your savings account so you’re automatically saving money with each paycheck. According to research by Bankrate.com, 76 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck; another study from CashNetUSA revealed that almost half of those surveyed had less than $800 saved for emergencies.
When it comes to learning more about managing your finances, you may come across terms that seem foreign and intimidating; however, taking some extra time to research these things now and understand how they can impact your financial future is important for your success.
“Young college graduates, who start saving now, can save far less money and be much wealthier than Americans who realize in their 40s and 50s that they have to get busy stashing money away,” according to Lynn O’Shaunessey of CBSNews.com. Here are some of O’Shaunessey’s tips:
Maximize your savings with compound interest - Even if you start your savings account with meager contributions each month, compound interest, like a snowball, can turn those contributions into something more significant as the years go on.
Open a Roth IRA - A Roth IRA is basically your retirement savings account; even though retirement may seem like decades away, you want to make sure that you’re comfortably prepared for it, so opening an IRA now will be sure to benefit you in the future.
Work on creating a stock portfolio - Investing in stocks can have a major impact on your finances and also teach you a lot about money as you become more experienced with the process. Start by investing in just one category while setting the goal to eventually spread your finances across large-cap and small-cap index funds, which will provide you with the best return for your investment.
Manisha Thakor of Forbes.com suggests that parents talk to their college-aged children about their own financial successes and blunders: “The more intergenerational dialogue we have about the basics of personal finance the better off this country will be.”