Many students are graduating from high school and planning for their futures. It's a transition that can be a little scary financially, but the move into adulthood can be even more confusing during the pandemic.
To make the adjustment to adulthood a little easier, Rebecca Gramuglia, personal finance expert at TopCashback.com, shared these five tips for graduates to help plan for their financial futures.
1. START BUILDING CREDIT
In today's world, the importance of credit can be found in almost every aspect of life. From applying for a credit card to purchasing a car, your credit score is used to determine your creditworthiness.
As a young adult and recent college graduate, you should always be conscious of how your financial decisions affect your credit score.
"With building credit, always look for something like a credit card that will best fit your lifestyle," Gramuglia said. "And the longer you have the credit card the better it looks on your credit report with your credit history."
2. IMPLEMENT A BUDGET TOOL
No matter what job you have, try your best to save and budget your income. It's important now more than ever to secure your funds early on.
Whether you're starting your first full-time job or signed up for a brand new credit card, lots of dollar signs can get thrown around, and it's important to know where to begin implementing an easy budgeting tool.
Gramuglia suggests trying a very basic 50/20/30 rule.
"If you have a full-time job or a part-time job, anything like that, you are going to use up to 50 percent of your after-tax income for any essentials like housing and food, so maybe you are paying for your room and board or an off-campus apartment, something like that," Gramuglia explained.
"Twenty percent towards any debt repayments and savings, so maybe student loans," she continued, "and up to 30 percent on any lifestyle choices, so anything that doesn't really fall into one of those categories"
3. START AN EMERGENCY FUND
Many grads may have received cash for their graduation from family and friends.
It can seem like a lot of money at once and that can be exciting, but Gramuglia says to pause before spending.
"With graduation happening maybe you have received some cash gifts from friends and family, and you may be so excited thinking, 'Oh my gosh I have all this money now what can I buy?'" she said.
"Definitely take a step back and reconsider, 'Can I save this? Can I use this for something else?' And with an emergency fund it's great to set aside money for something, you know, unexpected that you may need money for down the road," Gramuglia said.
4. SHOP SMART
The days of paying full price are long gone.
Implement easy, saving tips into your shopping habits by knowing that you can typically get a lower price on anything.
Whether you compare prices at different stores before purchasing, shop the sale and clearance sections, or time your purchases, like waiting until a holiday weekend to shop to score the best deals, these are simple ways to save money.
College students should watch for the numerous student discounts offered by various retailers.
"I think students have it really, they are in luck," Gramuglia said. "There's a lot of student discounts out there, so it's always really important to first always look for those or even if you are shopping online, like most of us are during this time, ya know, open a new tab. See if you can get the item for cheaper somewhere else"
5. FOCUS ON YOURSELF
It's can be extremely easy to compare yourself to others in real life or on social media and want to buy the latest and greatest sneaker, phone, vacation, etc., but don't be fooled. Focus on yourself.
"Focus on your financial priorities, your goals for school," Gramuglia said. "You know, down the road as long as you are saving you can of course have that money to spend on those cool things later."