It’s Sept. 5. Labor Day is here and if you just graduated from college, this may be the first fall you've found yourself completely financially independent.
It could be fun to not have the duty of waking up every day to go to class, or being forced to eat dormitory food, but the realities of real life and financial responsibility are soon to kick in, if they haven’t already. “The key is to make some hard decisions about ‘needs’ versus ‘wants’ because every dollar we spend on something we don’t really need is a dollar we don’t have to save or spend on something we do need,” Luke W. Reynolds, chief of the FDIC’s Community Outreach Section, tells earnedincometaxcredit.org, an asset building organization.
Some steps the FDIC suggest include:
Open and Add to a Savings Account
A savings account is only useful if you add to it. Remember $5 to $10 a week can add up over time.
Another way to easily save is by setting up an automatic transfer with your employer to send some of your earnings to a savings or investment account.
It is also a good idea to build an emergency savings account. In an emergency, this account could be used to pay for major, unexpected expenses.
Practice Self Control
Limit the amount of cash in your wallet or purse and in your checking account — if the money is not there, you’re less likely to spend it. Also, only carry a credit card when you plan to use it.
Depending on what type of phone you have, downloading an “app” to help you keep track of money withdrawn and spent from your bank account can help you manage your cash and avoid paying high overdraft fees.
It Could Be Time to Buy
You may be renting a house or an apartment, but if you’re earning a steady income and plan to stay in your community for an unspecified number of years, it could be in your favor to own your first home.
To learn more about homeownership and if it is right for you, consider talking to a HUD-approved counselor (start at 1-800-569-4287 or www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm).
Start to Build Credit
Now that you are a young adult, it’s time to start building credit. Paying your bills and debts on time has never been more important as the debt payment information that credit reporting companies collect is used to prepare scores that will impact your chances of borrowing money at lower interest rates. Your credit history could also be considered when applying for an apartment, insurance policy or even a job.
To share story ideas with Danielle Wright, follow and tweet her at @DaniWrightTV.
(Photo: EPA/MIKE THEILER/Landov)