The end of the school year is approaching, and proud families and students alike will be preparing for a new generation of graduates to enter the workplace. With a new chapter of their lives just around the corner, new financial responsibilities are a potential concern too.
It’s no longer about how to pay for their education, it’s whether they’ll get a job and how they’ll manage to cover their living expenses on their own. The good news is that employment opportunities for college grads are out there, and employment rates for those with higher education are higher than for those without.
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to have a conversation about financial planning and the future with high school and college grads. Here are some areas to cover:
Getting that first paycheck can be exciting, and it’s very tempting to go out and spend it all. However, if you start saving in your 20s rather than waiting till you’re in your 30s or 40s, you’ll be way ahead of the game. Think of what waiting could cost you in terms of lost income from compound interest.
It may seem very far away, but now is the time to start your retirement fund. You have the luxury of time. If you have a job that offers a 401k, contribute enough to get the maximum employer match. If not, start your own IRA.
On average, Americans retire at age 63, and yet almost half of the American workforce have nothing saved for their impending retirement.
Consider what would happen if you needed to come up with $1000 for an emergency such as unexpected medical costs or a major repair bill. This can happen to anyone, and without an emergency fund, it can be financially devastating. Aim to keep an amount equal to three month’s salary in this fund, so you can cover any emergency or loss of income.
Americans are saddled with student loan debt ($1.3 trillion, according to the latest statistics, which means on average, graduates owe over $37,000 in student debt.) This can lead to derailing other goals such as buying a house. Pay the loans with the highest interest rate first.
Credit cards can get out of hand very quickly. Then you’re on the never-ending payment and interest cycle. Do yourself a favor, and find out just how much you’ll end up paying if you buy something on a card and only pay the minimum payment each month. You’ll be shocked at how much more you end up owing.
While you’re at it, learn how your credit score works - what improves it, and what makes it worse.
Once you’ve graduated, one phase is over, but another begins. You’re just starting out on the road of life, and these lessons can help them make it a smooth transition.
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David Lerner AssociatesDavid Lerner Associates does not provide tax or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. Member FINRA & SIPC