Finding the True Value of Money

You’re on your way to being a young adult. Is your money knowledge adult-ready? Grown-up money lessons are way beyond the “how to earn it, save it, spend it” phase.

Here are a few things you should have down pat before you put on your cap and gown:

Get to Work

Before you graduate, you should have had a “real” job. That means something more than a paper route or babysitting. Not that there’s anything wrong with those jobs – but it’s good to have gotten an official paycheck or two so you can see where all of your money goes.

Tax Time

Once you get that official paycheck, you’ll be surprised how much of it goes to other places other than your credit union/bank account! Income tax, Social Security and Medicare are just a few places a portion of your hard-earned money go to. When you get older you’ll probably have to pay for health insurance and work savings programs like 401K accounts.

Budget Basics

Nothing like earning a paycheck to make you want to budget! You’ll want to keep track of every penny coming in and going out of your pocket. Use your monthly checking statements to see exactly where all that money is going. There are tons of great programs and apps out there that can help you keep track. Don’t forget, an important part of any budget is also allowing room to put some money aside in a savings account.

Wise Investments

Talk to your parents or do some surfing to really learn what investing is all about. It’s not just about trading stocks on Wall Street. There are low-risk and high-risk investment choices, and many choices in between. Right now you’re probably not in a place to invest, but you’ll want to know what it’s all about when that time does come.

Credit, Debit and Debt

Sure, you’ve seen your parents use their plastic from time to time, but do you really understand the ramifications of using a credit card? The interest you get charged on your purchases can really add up. Your parents can help you get the feel of a credit card by opening a prepaid debit card for you. They can put a specific amount on the card for you to use like a credit card – just without the interest! This is a good way to track your usage and review it with your parents to get a better understanding of where your money goes.

Your Future

We know you’ve got a lot to worry about between now and graduation … friends, schoolwork, graduation, college, prom. But if you pay some attention to the money topics above, your future will be a bright one.