Money & Career
Graduate to Smart Financial Management
5/6/2013 10:52:47 AM

"College life certainly provides a taste of what’s ahead. Even if you have the financial backing and support of your parents, most college students still have to learn how to operate within a budget. Those lessons will certainly come in handy when power of the pocketbook is transferred from parents to graduate,” says Karen Quinilty, Vice President with Lakeside Bank. "A college education does many things, but one of the things it doesn’t usually do is prepare you for the potential turmoil of completely managing your personal finances.”

If you want to get off on the right foot, Quinilty suggests putting yourself on a budget right away. If you’re already on a budget, tweak it to fit your new lifestyle. A budget doesn’t mean that you calculate bills and expenses in your head – it’s an actual document (on paper or on the computer) that sketches out your bills, expenses and luxuries in black-and-white. There is no one way to create a budget. Some people prefer spreadsheets while others might scribble in a ledger. Quinilty advises finding a way that’s best for you; a method that you will stick with.

"Once you have a budget, you’ll have a clearer understanding of how much disposable income you have,” Quinilty said, noting that a vital aspect of effective budgeting is keeping track of what’s going in and out. "If you swipe your debit card ten times in a week and forget to write down eight of those transactions, you’re already falling off the financial train. Yes, you can always check your balance online, but that won’t show checks that haven’t cleared or every pending debit. If you spend it, write it down, and balance your checkbook against your bank statement.”

Another good post-graduate idea is to order a copy of your credit report. Chances are you will now need access to more credit, whether it’s buying a car or opening a credit card. It’s a good idea to find out where you stand. If your credit score is low, you may find it difficult to rent an apartment or finance a vehicle. If you haven’t accumulated much credit during your college years, you may find that your score has been affected by that as well. "As a college graduate you probably haven’t had much time to build up a solid credit history for creditors to hang their hats on,” Quinilty says. "This doesn’t necessarily translate to a higher score. But whatever the case may be, it’s a good idea to know what your score is and what you can do to get it to the highest level possible.”

Speaking of credit, now is not the time to fall into debt. Chances are, you already have some. Resist the temptation of getting more, Quinilty says. "The average college graduate has about $20,000 in debt and it can be tempting to accumulate even more, especially on an entry-level salary. But if at all possible, don’t pile on more debt onto your existing obligation,” she says. "If you do, you could be forty years old before all of its paid off. On the other hand, being frugal now will get you start your post-college life on firm financial footing.”

For more information on commercial loans, call Lakeside at 474-3766 or visit www.lakesidebanking.com.

Posted by: Kristy Armand | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Finances

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