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.