Money Management Tips for New Grads

Editor’s Note: From time to time we like to invite local experts from the community to answer questions about parenting and raising kids in Huntsville and North Alabama. Today we asked Nicholas Rockhill, Branch Manager for Progress Bank, to address questions about new graduates making smart money decisions.
Q. What summer investing advice can you give to a recent high school grad that is starting college in the Fall?

The simplest way to save money is by opening a savings account and dumping miscellaneous funds into the account. Specifically if you have a job, budget an amount from each paycheck. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but even $5, $10, $15, can add up fast over the course of time. There are many tricks that financial experts have successfully experimented with, such as the $1-3 a day savings method. Over the course of a month this will add up.

Technology has come a long way as well, apps such as Acorn allow you to swipe a debit card transaction and round up to the nearest dollar amount transferring the remaining cents you have available into a savings account. This may seem silly, but how many times a month do we swipe a debit/credit card?

Thoughtfully considering summer expenses and creating a budget is a great idea. What are your real needs vs. your wants? Adding a college savings line item to your budget is a great way to look ahead. The newest Xbox game may not be as important as helping cover textbook costs so that the loan you may have to take out doesn’t have to be increased. As college expenses continue to rise, it only makes sense for us to plan financially for both short-term and long-term expenses as grads take hold of the real world.

How can my grad have fun this summer while still being mindful of their finances?

The easiest answer for this question is finding something you enjoy doing and have an interest. If you’re interested in business, try to find part-time work that will get you valuable knowledge in that industry so that you can save. It may even be that you enjoy being by the pool, so becoming a lifeguard for the summer is a solution to get the best of both worlds – savings and sun rays.

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It’s important to find things to do that may not require much money. Our city continues to grow, and offers many activities, along with entertainment that isn’t very costly. Movies in the Park, Concerts in the Park, Lowe Mill, and other community organizations partner to offer activities at little to no cost. Many of these events can be found on social media pages or websites. If you enjoy going to the park, as opposed to buying a $15 meal, put aside the money and pack a picnic to take to the park.

Be aware of sales, coupons, and discounts in or around shops & restaurants that you enjoy. The difference of paying full value may be put aside for savings while also splurging on yourself a bit.

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My college-bound teen has no credit. What is the best way she can start building it up?

This question seems to be common one that many teens should take more seriously. Many of the large credit card companies offer credit cards for new cardholders. However, it is extremely important to be aware of what you may spend on a credit card and even more important to pay that off at the end of every month. Read carefully and know what you are signing up for. Start with a credit card for a gas station so that you can charge your gas to it and pay it off at the end of the month. Again, it is imperative that the bill be paid monthly.

Be sure to request a limited line that fits your budget, such as $300 or $500 open-ended credit line. Many times it’s helpful to have Mom and Dad co-sign to help build up credit. However, the last thing you want to do is max credit cards out while in college. There will come a time when the real world takes over and major expenses will consume your life. It will also make it difficult to purchase a home or car with high debt ceilings to your name.

Are there any apps that can help my teen stick to his budget? I’m worried about him not managing his money well when he’s at school next Fall.

Technology has come a long way. Thankfully it has developed into many tools at our disposal to assist with maintaining a solid budget. The key is utilizing the resources and taking them seriously.

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  • Acorn is an app that helps with growing your savings.
  • An app called Mint will actually allow you to log your monthly expenditures and lays out what needs to be paid, as well as what you will have free for the month.
  • Spending Tracker is another solid option that has gotten great reviews.

Many apps are available that will help you stick to a budget. Utilizing your mobile banking app with your bank is the best method. Most banks offer a mobile app that allows you to check your account frequently. Use it often and keep a journal or check register of what goes in and out of your account. This is the most basic method of maintaining a healthy balance that dates back before cells phones were even a thing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nicholas Rockhill is the Branch Sales Manager for Progress Bank’s Jones Valley office, specializing in consumer deposit and lending needs. He is happily married to Sheena Rockhill with two beautiful and crazy sons, as well as a golden retriever. Currently, Nicholas serves on the Board for Rotaract Club of Huntsville, participates with Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Alabama, will serve as the 2017-2018 Huntsville Hospital Foundation Development Council Chairman and will be assisting with the Whitesburg Christian Academy basketball team.

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If your new graduate needs some budgeting advice, these financial tips from an expert should come in handy!