Buying a Home Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful

By Paul Mulligan, Senior Vice President, Consumer Lending

Buying a home can be a stressful experience.  Even if you’ve done it before and are looking to move, upgrade, or downside, it takes some work.  If you’re a first-time buyer, it’s likely to be an even more nerve-wracking experience because you don’t know what to expect.  Whether you’re ready to start shopping for a home now, or if it’s part of your future plans, here are a few things to consider that can help make the process a little smoother for you.  Especially in the current environment, with fewer houses on the market, being prepared can make it easier to act quickly on the house you want.

Down payment – Look at how much you have saved for a down payment.  If you haven’t started, that may be the first place to start.  Putting more down on your home initially will reduce your monthly mortgage payments, but you want to make sure you don’t drain your bank account completely, because there are always things that seem to come up when buying a home, whether it’s repairs, additional furniture, or other things.  Also look into how different down payment amounts might change your interest rates, mortgage insurance, and other variables.

Know your costs – There are any number of additional expenses that can come up during the home buying process.  In addition to your regular monthly expenses, make sure you know what to expect in terms of insurance, inspections, legal fees, and other costs you might incur during the process.  Some are small, but others can be larger expenses that could impact your down payment or savings.  Don’t forget moving expenses.

Assistance programs – The local bank in the area you’re looking to buy a home may have first-time home buyer programs that might provide a number of benefits.  The Milford Bank, for instance, offers an application fee refund, discounted interest rates, prequalification certificates, and low down payment options.  Milford, Stratford, West Haven, and Orange and eligible for the first time homebuyer program.

Check your credit report – One of the first things your lender is going to do is check your credit report.  Make sure your report isn’t showing any inaccurate or fraudulent activity.  If there is something suspicious, you will want to give yourself enough time to address it.  You may also want to avoid opening new lines of credit before applying for a home loan, since that could impact your credit score.  The truth is, you should check your credit report regularly.  Since each of the three major credit agencies is required to give you one free credit report each year, you can easily do it three times a year without incurring any cost.

Compare lenders – There are plenty of lenders out there.  Do your homework, don’t overlook your local bank, and consider more than rates. Local institutions, such as The Milford Bank, often offer more personalized service and are certainly much more easily accessible if you have questions or if problems come up.  They can also provide easy access to additional financial services, including future home equity loans when you’re looking to make larger improvements or renovations.

Plan ahead – As you start thinking about and looking for homes, think about your future plans.  For instance, if you’re also thinking about starting a family, you may want to make sure you have enough space without having to immediately move again.  That could mean giving up a few nice-to-have features in exchange for a little more space, in order to stick to your budget.  On the other hand, if you’re serious about relocating when you start a family, or for any other reasons, you may want to consider a slightly smaller home that will allow you to save a little more

The fact is, if you’re currently renting, you may find you can get into a home of your own for something very close to what you’re paying in rent – or less – especially if you’ve prepared well and planned ahead.  You’ll also have the added benefit of being able to deduct mortgage interest from your federal income tax.  But, don’t go into it without having all the information you need.  Talk to your bank’s mortgage specialists professionals and your tax planner.  They can help answer any questions you have, including how much you can reasonably afford to spend on a home.

 

10 Low-budget Ways to Give Your Home a New Look

By Tina Mason

It’s been a crazy few months, with most of us stuck at home and most businesses closed.  Even now, as some places start to re-open, many of the restrictions, especially on group gatherings, remain in place, and it could be some time before things get back to normal.

In the mean time, what can you do to pass the time?  You’ve already streamed the entire Netflix library, read several books, and could really use something new to break up the monotony.  You may have some larger projects you want to get done around the house, and this is a good time to work on those.  If you’re ready for a major home improvement project, and need a home improvement loan or home equity line of credit, one of our specialists can help you with great rates.  There are probably many contractors looking for work right now, so it could be a good time to get those projects started.

But, given we’re still in the middle of so much uncertainty, maybe you’re not ready for such a large investment.  There are still plenty of ways to give your home an upgrade without spending a lot.  Here are just a few projects you can do on your own that will give your home a new look.

Paint the front door – Your door is the first thing most people notice, even if they’re just passing by.  It’s certainly how most people enter your home.  So, if it’s looking a little faded or run down, try giving your door a fresh coat of paint.  You can even go with a completely different look with a color change.  Don’t forget your shutters.

Patio/deck accent lighting – There are many styles of outdoor string lights available that can give your outdoor area a new look and add character for your summer nights.  Even if you’re not entertaining right now, you’ll enjoy being outside with just your family more than ever.

Build a fire pit – Sure, you can buy a fire pit, but why not enjoy the satisfaction of making one yourself?  You may also save a little money doing it yourself using inexpensive wall blocks or pavers from your   hardware store.  When you’re done, you can set up your outdoor furniture around your fire pit and enjoy the ambience year-round.  But, make sure you follow common safety procedures when lighting and putting out your fires.

Plant a garden – Have a little extra space in your yard or an old garden area you haven’t maintained in years?  This is a great time to get a new garden going, and you don’t need much to do it.  With some wood or plastic edging and maybe some decent soil, you’ll be ready to plant your own vegetables and herbs in no time.  For a little extra visual appeal, you can build a raised bed garden.  You might also want to consider building a fence around it using 2×2 posts and some garden fencing.

Window or deck boxes – If you don’t have room for a garden, you could always start with deck or window boxes.  You can plant herbs or certain vegetables, depending on the size of you boxes, or you can put in flowers to add some color around your patio or deck areas.  You can find fairly inexpensive boxes, or if you have a few simple tools, make one.

Solar lights – You can create a totally new look for your gardens or walkways by adding some inexpensive solar landscape lighting.  They will not only look great, but can make it easier to navigate in the dark – especially if you need to get to the fire pit you just built.

Organize your basement – Over the years, your basement, shed, garage, or closets have probably become cluttered with various items.  This is a great time to turn those into projects by cleaning them out, organizing them, and probably finding you can get rid of some unused or old items that are just taking up space.  When you’re done, you’ll be able to find things more easily, and probably have created more space for storage.  You can add new shelves if you need even more space.

Accent walls – Are you tired of the same old look in your living room or bedroom?  Think about painting one of the walls a different color to create contract and give the room a new look.  If your ceilings are looking a little old and grey, try giving them a new coat of paint, too – especially if you have an older home with popcorn ceilings you just can’t stand.

Update your kitchen cabinets – A simple way to give your kitchen a brand new look is by refinishing your cabinet doors.  It can be as simple as a new coat of paint to give them a totally new look, or you can replace them with a different style at much less cost than replacing the entire cabinet.  Want an even bolder new look?  You can make inexpensive glass front doors using plexiglass.  Adding new knobs completes the touch, or you can just start with that if you want to keep it simple.  While you’re at it, replacing your doorknobs is another way to give your entire home a bit of a new look.

Rearrange your furniture – Sometimes, all it takes is a little creativity with the furniture you already have to completely refresh your home.  Try different arrangements, keep an open mind, and you may be surprised at how easy it is to create a totally redesigned living space with no investment at all.

There are countless other ways you can improve your home inexpensively.  Get creative, get advice from friends, take a look at what you have around the house that you can repurpose, and you may be surprised at how easy it is to turn any room into a brand new experience.

So You’re a First-Time Home Buyer, Here’s What You Need to Know

By Paul Mulligan

Buying a home is one of the biggest milestones in your life – right up there with marriage and starting a family.  Being a homeowner has several benefits, including possibly lowering your monthly payments compared to renting and earning equity as your home value rises and you pay down your principal.  The immediate benefit, of course, is the happiness and security of owning instead of being beholden to a landlord.  As a homeowner, you have the ability to do what you like with pets, landscaping, renovations, and anything else that will make your house a home.

But, buying a home is also probably the biggest financial commitment you’ll make. There are many things to think about as you begin the process that can help make the process as enjoyable as it should be.

Here are several tips that can help make your first home purchase a positive experience.

Buy within your means – Many people tend to look at houses they can’t afford or that are too large.  Do the math to determine how much you can realistically spend while still allowing you to meet your monthly budget needs, as well as continuing to save for retirement and other future needs – including home maintenance and repairs.

Understand all your costs – In addition to the basic monthly mortgage payments, be aware of all the other costs that may impact your budgeting.  That includes property taxes and homeowners insurance, as well as mortgage and hazard insurances, depending on your financing need and location of the home.  You should also expect an increase in your utility bills, including heating and HVAC maintenance contracts – especially if they were previously included in your rent payments.

Plan ahead – Don’t rush into a home purchase.  Make sure you have all the information, have the financial resources to comfortably support the purchase, and are buying a home you will be happy in for many years.  Try to avoid draining all your savings and make sure you still have an emergency fund to fall back on should the need arise.  That’s particularly important as a homeowner so you don’t risk losing your house if you’re suddenly unable to make payments for a short period.  In fact, it’s even better if you can continue to grow your savings, so you have the resources to make improvements.

Manage your credit – It’s always important to follow good spending and credit habits, but especially when you’re looking to buy your first home.  Lenders will pull your credit reports, possibly several times, to make sure you are credit worthy and nothing has changed during the buying process.  Make sure you pay your bills on time, and be cautious opening up any new lines of credit before your loan is approved.

The perfect home vs. the right home – It’s rare that you’ll find the absolute perfect home for all your current and future needs.  Have a reasonable list of must-have features, and a second list of nice-to-haves.  Look for a home that checks off the first set, and maybe some of the second (you can always make improvements to check off more items later).  But don’t forget location.  Your neighborhood can be as big a factor in your long-term happiness as the house itself.  Do your homework and learn about the school system, commuting options and time, crime rates, tax rates, and other geographically dependent variables that may influence your decision.

Start the loan process early – As you start thinking about buying a house, don’t think you have to find the house first.  In fact, you may be better off starting the loan process while you’re looking, or even before you start.  Good houses can sell quickly, and once you find the house you love, you want to be able to move quickly.  Being pre-qualified for a home loan may give you an advantage over other potential buyers, especially if the seller wants to move quickly.

Seek advice – Especially as a first-time buyer, you will have many questions of your own, and many more you don’t even think to ask.  Contact one of our mortgage specialists, who can give help you find all of the information you need and help you throughout the process.  Also ask about our first-time home buyer program, which offers:

Keeping these tips in mind will help you have an enjoyable home buying experience and avoid complications that could arise.

*The Milford Bank is an Equal Housing Lender

What Does the New FICO Scoring System Mean?

by Paul Mulligan, SVP, Retail Lending

When you apply for a loan, lenders have access to a variety of information they use to decide whether to give you a loan and at what terms.  The most popular of those resources is your FICO score, a three-digit rating based on information in your credit reports, which helps lenders decide how likely to repay a loan, how much you can borrow, the length of you loan repayment period, and your interest rate.

While FICO scores give lenders a quick and consistent way to determine borrower worthiness, they also make sure you, the borrower, get a fair credit assessment and access to the funds you need.  FICO has become the de facto industry standard for lenders.

This month, FICO has updated its scoring system for the first time since 2014, which could impact your scores.  The new scoring places more emphasis on trend data in your credit report, looking at your credit utilization and payments over the past two years, as opposed to only current balances.  For instance, new data might include whether you tend to pay off balances quickly, carry extended debt, or consolidate loans, as well as your credit management predictability.

The other major change reflects changes in credit reports.  Tax liens, insurance-paid medical collections, and judgments are no longer part of credit reports, and healthcare defaults won’t appear on credit reports for at least six months.

At the end of the day, though, the real question is, how will the new scoring impact you?

The new scores will be less forgiving of risky credit behavior.  That means, if you regularly run up your credit, don’t pay off balances consistently, carry too many credit cards, or consolidate debt into personal loans in order to free up your credit cards, you may see your score go down.

On the other hand, some spending habits that may have previously been viewed negatively may no longer hurt you.  For instance, if you run up seasonal balances – such as during the holidays or summer vacations – and then pay them off, your score may not be negatively impacted because those are predictable one-time spikes, not regular habits.

Ultimately, what you need to keep in mind is the basics of good credit haven’t changed.  Payment history (35%) and credit usage (30%) are still the two biggest components of your FICO score.  If you follow good credit practices – pay your bills on time, keep balances below your credit limits, and don’t apply for too many new lines of credit (or too often) – you should have nothing to worry about.  In fact, if you manage your credit well, the new scoring could actually improve your score.

If you’re concerned about your credit rating and want to work to improve your score, the sooner you start following good financial habits and budgeting, the faster you can see positive change.  Of course, it’s not always easy, so if you need help or want advice on how to become more responsible with your spending, talk to our specialists.  They can provide information on financial best practices, budgeting and saving tips, and improving your credit.  On the other hand, if you have managed your credit responsibly, you probably don’t have anything to worry about.  Just continue to follow smart banking habits.

Is a Home Equity Loan Your Path to Eliminating Credit Card Debt?

By Paul Mulligan,

Senior Vice President, Consumer Lending

Now that the holidays are a distant memory, everyone has settled back into their “normal” routines, which inevitably includes paying the bills. Hopefully, you didn’t max out all your credit cards, but if you did, that may create strain on your budget, especially if you also have other debts you’re paying off as well, like college loans.

The reality is this situation can happen to anyone, at any time. You may run into some unexpected expenses or you simply aren’t budgeting wisely, or you haven’t figured out how to save enough and the next thing you know, you have multiple debtors hitting you with high interest rates every month. It can make it hard to make a dent in your balances and become financially secure.

If you own a home and have built up equity, there is an option that could help get you out of debt faster than paying off all your credit cards each month. You could look into a home equity loan. Especially if you’ve been paying of your mortgage for several years, or your home value has increased significantly, you may actually have an easy time securing a home equity loan.

Using a home equity loan to pay consolidate multiple debts has some advantages. For instance, home equity loans often come with lower interest rates than credit cards, making the interest you’re accruing each month lower. With a home equity loan, you are also only paying a single creditor, making your monthly budgeting a little easier to manage, and a longer repayment period may help you reduce your monthly payment, giving you a little breathing room in your budget. In addition, if you are also using the home equity loan to fund a major home improvement project, the interest may also be tax deductible.

But, you should be aware there are risks with consolidating debt into a home equity loan. Perhaps the biggest is that, if you default on the loan, your home can go into foreclosure. Unlike credit card debt, it’s almost impossible to discharge a home equity loan. In addition, if your home’s value drops, you could end up paying more than it is actually worth at that point.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is loan consolidation doesn’t address the spending habits that got you into a debt problem to begin with. In addition to paying off your loans, you should also get into better spending habits to make the most of your paycheck and avoid getting into even more debt. It’s very easy to start running up credit card balances if you aren’t careful. So, if you are having a hard time putting money into savings, there are several ways you can help yourself become more financially responsible, including using a savings app like Plinqit.

But, if you think a home equity loan could be the right option for you, come speak with one of our financial specialists, who can help you make a smart decision and get your finances back on track.

7 Things to Consider with Home Equity Loans

By Paul Mulligan, Senior Vice President

There are many situations homeowners may require an influx of cash. If they’ve built up equity in their homes (if the home is worth more than what they owe on it) a home equity loan may be an attractive option. While a home equity loan may seem like a great idea, depending on how you plan on using the cash could determine whether it’s the best option for your needs.  Here are several things to consider if you’re thinking about taking out a home equity loan.

Understand the risk – With a home equity loan, you’re putting your home up as collateral. This means that, if you default on the loan, your lender can take your home to satisfy the debt.  For instance, taking out a home equity loan to pay off unsecured debt, like high-interest credit cards, may seem like a good idea – and it may be, if you’re able to make your payments.  But, if something happens and you’re unable to satisfy your loan terms, you may end up in a worse situation than just having credit card debt.

Repayment strategy – Make sure you have a reasonable repayment plan in place.  If you’re planning on using variable cash flows – like raises, commissions, or bonuses – make sure you have a backup plan in case your cash influx is smaller than expected.  It may help to create a detailed table with monthly income and expenses, including discretionary spending that might need to be limited in order to be able to pay off a loan.

Total loan cost – Always make sure you are fully aware of the total cost of your loan, including interest payments, closing costs, loan insurance, prepayment or other penalties, variable payments or interest rates, and any other hidden fees or costs that might impact your total loan cost or your ability to pay it off.  Knowing how much the loan will cost you will impact your decisions.

Tax implications ­– One of the benefits of home equity loans is their status as tax deductable interest.  But, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 applies new restrictions to when home equity loan interest can be claimed as a deduction.  More specifically, under the new regulations, interest on loans used to significantly purchase, build, or renovate a home may be tax deductible, whereas non-property-related uses of loans are not. (Contact your tax advisor for specifics.)

Plan ahead – Regardless of what you’re planning on using your home’s equity to fund, give yourself plenty of time.  While good candidates may have a fairly easy time getting a home equity loan, it’s not as simple as pulling up to an ATM and withdrawing cash.  While emergency situations may arise, give yourself as much time as possible to get a loan approved.  Lenders will run credit checks and may require home appraisals, creating a delay between your initial loan application and when funds are made available to you.

Consider your optionsTechnically, borrowers may use the funds for whatever they need them for, but it’s worth considering all the options depending on your needs.  Home improvements tend to be looked at as a high-value loan because you’re actually increasing what your home is worth.  Many people look at home equity loans as a way of paying for their children’s college tuitions, new vehicles, medical bills, consolidating debt, or other expenses.  Consider your options for any of your needs; your bank might have different loan products that are better suited for different needs.

Regardless of your needs, make sure you consult a loan specialist before making a decision that will impact your finances and life for years to come. The Milford Bank has consultants ready to answer your questions and discuss the best loan options for your unique financial needs.

 

 

 

Home Equity Loan vs. HELOC – Which One is Right for You?

By Paul Mulligan, Senior Vice President

One of the benefits of owning a home is the ability to use built up equity to finance other cash needs with a Home Equity Loan or a HELOC. Some of these uses carry more value than others – and some carry more risk.  Because of that, potential borrowers should do their due diligence and consider all aspects of these loan products before making a decision to put up their homes as collateral. Click HERE for 7 Things to Consider with Home Equity Loans.

That includes understanding different loan alternatives and how they may benefit your needs for cash, like the difference between a home equity loan and a home equity line of credit (HELOC). While they are similar and both use the home as collateral, they are designed differently and can end up with different total cost of loan figures.

Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan provides borrowers a single, lump sum of cash that must be paid back over a specified period of time at an agreed interest rate. It’s similar to a first mortgage in that payments are a known constant and go towards both interest and principal.  With home equity loans, you are paying off the full amount of the loan plus interest.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A HELOC is a revolving line of credit with a predetermined limit. Think of a HELOC almost like a home equity credit card that gives borrowers access to a cash reserve they can draw upon for whatever needs they may have.  The line of credit remains active for a specified period – up to 10 years, depending on the lender.  While the line of credit remains open, borrowers pay back interest; once the draw period is over, payments typically increase and include both interest (only on the amount withdrawn) and principal (the amount withdrawn) payments.

Lenders may offer customers different options for accessing funds, and they may have minimum withdrawal amount policies or require a minimum outstanding balance. Make sure you are aware of all details of your loan before signing the paperwork.

Which is better?

This is a question each borrower has to answer based on his or her circumstances.  Home equity loans tend to be useful for large projects – like home remodels – that require a large payment at one time, or for situations where the amount to be borrowed is known.

HELOCs are good options for borrowers who need access to smaller amounts of cash over a period of time – such as for a number of smaller projects over the course of several years, or when the total amount required may not be known.

Interest Rates

Home equity loans typically have fixed rates, which means payments will be the same for the duration of the repayment period. HELOCs usually are variable rate loans based on Prime Rate or some other standard index plus a margin.  HELOCs may come with a lower introductory rate that increases – along with monthly payments – once the introductory period expires. Check with your lender for current rates.

Closing costs

Both HELOCs and home equity loans typically include closing costs that may also include additional fees for appraisals, insurance, loan processing, attorney fees, and more. Be sure to ask your financial specialist what fees you can expect with either type of loan and whether any additional fees may apply under certain conditions, such as early repayment, or with each withdrawal from a HELOC.

The bottom line is that both home equity loans and HELOCs allow homeowners to tap into the equity in their homes to finance other needs. What those needs are and whether either of these two is a good option is something a loan expert at your financial institution can help determine.  Regardless of what option you choose, be sure to shop your loan needs around to get the best terms, but be sure to ask as many questions as possible to determine the total cost to you over the loan period.  Also make sure repaying the loan doesn’t exceed your monthly budget.  If you are unable to pay back the loan, you’ll be putting your home at risk.  But, with the right planning and advice from a financial expert, home equity loans and HELOCs are both great options for taking advantage of the equity you’ve built up in your home.

If you’re considering a second mortgage, The Milford Bank has several loan products that may be ideally suited to your needs. Contact our loan experts today to discuss your specific needs and make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

‘Tis the Season… For Community Cleanup and Major Project Planning

By Mark Gruttadauria

After a long winter that included a 10-day period with three different Nor’Easters hitting the area, it looks like Spring has finally arrived. Lawns are started to become brighter shades of green, trees are starting to bud, and of course, temperatures are on the rise. The change in seasons also signifies the start of the outdoor activities, as youth sports teams are seen practicing across communities and parks and other communal areas once again become daily meeting sites.

For local communities, it means preparing for annual spring cleaning, repairs and maintenance. The to-do list can get quite long after a harsh winter, with many cleaning,  landscaping and gardening jobs taking priority to replenish and revitalize buildings, gardens, planters, water features, playgrounds, and walkways.  The good news is if your community or neighborhood association has done its job, you’ll see a large turnout of residents lending a hand to take care of their communities.

This is also the time to assess larger and longer term needs – especially anything that might require larger capital investment. Larger, higher cost projects require advance planning and a lengthier approval process for funding.  They could include office or garage renovation,  new construction, parking area paving, speed bumps, pool installation, tree removal or planting, or any other capital improvements to make the community more attractive to residents and businesses.

Smart associations understand that, just as regular maintenance (including spring cleanup) help to build a positive daily perception, these larger developments are a long-term these are long-term investments in the community’s future. It’s simple: a cleaner and more modern community is naturally going to have maximum curb appeal.

The catch, though, is that community organizations may not have a lump sum available to fund larger projects, which is why future planning is critical. When big-ticket items are approved, funding plans must also be in place, whether that means local fund raising, business sponsorships, city funding (less and less likely, unless residents are willing to endure tax hikes), or project loans (hopefully from local banks that are happy to work with community organizations).

Whatever the plan, it has to be put in place long before the project breaks ground. So, when your planting flowers, trimming hedges, or sowing grass this spring, take note of any larger community improvement opportunities and bring them to your community association board, so they can consider them early enough to make a real difference.

Many local financial institutions, like The Milford Bank, work closely with community associations and other similar organizations, understanding they, too, have a role to play in supporting these communities. If you are considering a major project that will require funding, be sure to talk to a representative from The Milford Bank representative to find out how we can help.

The Savings Spotlight Series, Part 2: Recent College Graduates

By Chaz Gaines

There is no one-size-fits-all savings strategy that will work for every individual. The truth is, we’re all at different stages in life and must adjust our planning accordingly. What works for a teenager saving for their first car isn’t going to work for a couple in their early sixties looking to retire in the next few years.

As such, it’s important for every individual to craft a savings strategy that will best support their needs and wants for the circumstances surrounding their lifestyle. In this series, we’re looking at some of the major milestones throughout life to help our customers hone in on where their heads should be at when it comes to their savings strategy.

In Part 2, we’ll be taking a closer look at the financial needs of recent college graduates—an ever-increasing demographic that today must contend with record amounts of student loan debt as they enter the workforce. If you’re a recent grad, or know someone who is, take a look at the following tips to help get started on the right track.

Start paying off student loans: In addition to receiving a diploma, you’ll now need to start paying off your student loans now that you’ve graduated. While every individual has different degrees of financial flexibility, many experts believe that contributing 10 to 20 percent of your monthly income to paying down student loan debt will keep you on even footing in the long run.

Take advantage of employer benefits: Another benefit of leaving the classroom is that you’ll now be able to get a full time job, and the benefits that come along with it. By starting to contribute early to a 401(k) or IRA through work, you’ll have the opportunity to add significant value compared to employees who pass up the opportunity. This is especially true in cases where employers will match your contributions.

Build a personal portfolio: Relying solely on employee benefits will hinder your earning potential, so it’s equally important to start diversifying your savings and building a personal portfolio. But you’ll need to evolve beyond the simple savings account that got you through college. Given the fiscal highs and lows that can come along with being a recent graduate, certificates of deposit are sometimes a good place to start. Smartphone-savvy grads can even find great finance apps that can give an introduction to investing without the mandatory minimum contributions required for some investment vehicles.

Establish your credit: A good credit score supports long term saving because it will eventually help you to get lower interest rates on mortgages, auto loans and a variety of other important purchases you’ll make in the coming years. One option is to obtain a small balance credit card, but the easiest way to build your credit is to simply pay all your bills, in full and on time. You won’t notice the savings now, but you’ll be rewarded down the road.

Live within your means: There’s a great sense of freedom that comes when you get your first apartment or see your first paycheck deposited into your bank account as a new graduate. But just because you don’t need to eat ramen three nights a week anymore, that doesn’t mean you should be going out to eat every night either. One way to ensure that you don’t get carried away is by sticking to your budget. But it’s also important to put yourself in places, and surround yourself with people that won’t encourage you to spend exorbitantly.

College graduates have their entire lives ahead of them, and by taking a careful approach to saving now they’ll have many more chances to enjoy themselves down the road. Of course, they’ve got to balance that so they can enjoy the benefits of truly entering adulthood, too. At The Milford Bank, we’ve been helping college graduates in Milford and Stratford navigate this new point in their lives for generations. To learn more, stop by an office location near you or check out our Online Learning Center here.