Money Matters for Recent High School Grads
Congratulations – you just made it through 12 or 13 years of school. PHEW! We know you’ve been busy mastering algebra and studying for finals, but don’t forget about the importance of mastering personal financial management as you enter adulthood. Here’s the rundown on what you should be considering regarding your finances now that you’ve finished high school:
- Saving – Chances are you already have a savings account at Cutting Edge, but if not, it’s time to start one. High school graduates should aim to save a portion of your income regularly each month to build an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, future education and investment, or major purchases.
- Banking – Understanding how banking works is essential for successful financial management. High school grads should open a checking account (at your credit union!) to practice financial management and learn about different types of accounts, familiarize yourself with banking services such as debit cards, digital banking, and bill pay software.
- Employment – Finding a job or pursuing further education is a common path for high school graduates. Securing employment provides income to cover expenses, save for the future, and gain valuable work experience to increase your earning potential.
- Student Loans – If you do plan to pursue higher education, you need to understand student loans. Research different loan programs and options like private or federal loans, and make sure you compare interest rates and repayment terms of each. Also consider the impact on your future finances, like whether some of your loans are eligible for forgiveness based on your profession, or how much a monthly student loan payment may cost you once you’ve got your degree or certificate.
- Living Expenses – High school graduates who move out of their parents’ home should consider the cost of living independently. Rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and other expenses need to be factored into your budget. Speaking of your budget…
- Budgeting – Creating a budget is crucial for managing expenses and income. High school graduates (okay, actually everyone) should track their spending, prioritize essential expenses, and allocate funds for savings and financial goals. Any of our Member Advocate Specialists can help you build a budget and offer you tips on how to stick to it.
- Credit – Building good credit is extremely important, even if you don’t plan to take out loans in the near future. Recent grads should learn about the components of their credit score, responsible credit usage, and how to establish and maintain a positive credit history. Fortunately, your credit union has a lot of great resources to help you with this one!
- Taxes – Understanding the basics of taxation is important. Graduates should know the basics about filing taxes, deductions, credits, and how your employment status affects your tax obligations. We recommend that you consult a tax professional if you have questions specific to your own finances or tax situation.
- Financial Goal-Setting – Setting short-term and long-term financial goals can provide you with direction and motivation. Whether you’re saving for a car, a down payment on your first home, or starting your own business – having specific financial goals helps you stay focused and able to create an action plan to get there.
As your credit union, we would love to help you get started in your mastery of financial management. Our Member Advocate Specialists are certified financial coaches, and here with helpful advice and education when you’re ready. Enjoy your summer, grads!