There’s a lot of celebrating going on. Grads are tossing tassels and ready to take on the world.
However, their first order of business should be making smart financial moves at this critical life stage.
Here’s how they can get off to a good start.
- Deal with reality: “Face your numbers as soon as you graduate and create a debt repayment plan. Your federal loans might give you a grace period, but you can make payments during those six months and reduce the amount of interest that will get added to your loan. Find out if your private loans offer a grace period. Don’t make assumptions,” says Erin Lowry, author of “Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together.”
Sign up for automatic payments; you’ll likely get a 0.25 percent interest rate reduction, too, points out Brianna McGurran, a personal finance expert with NerdWallet.com.
- Save: Budget and live within your means. Start retirement savings with your first paycheck. Retirement may be the last thing on your mind, but take advantage of your company’s savings plan. Otherwise, you may be giving up free money. At least save enough to get employer matching. Strive for a minimum of 10 percent of your income. Says Jay Messing, senior director of wealth planning for Wells Fargo Private Bank in Manhattan, “Do what it takes to save as much as possible, even if that means living with mom and dad or riding your bike to work.”
- Protect yourself: Set up a separate bank account with money to cover three to six months of expenses. Accumulate this cushion now when you have fewer financial commitments. Sign up for employer-sponsored disability insurance.