Not to say parents escape blame for not teaching their children about the beginning stages of personal finances, which include spending wisely and contributing to savings accounts, but why was it not taught it school? Currently less than half of the states in the US require a personal finance class to be taught in public high schools prior to graduation. Many of us actually do not learn until we make mistakes on our own, which as long as the issue is caught right will not cause long term damage, but continuing with current behavior and you could be off track, setting you years into debt, with little to no savings. Here are a few important pieces of being financially responsible that should be taught to everyone at an early age.
Like most young individuals feeling invincible, you may not realize how your credit score will affect you later in life. When it comes time to make a home purchase, lease or buy a car, purchase insurance, or open a new credit card, your credit score is the highest factor in the decision. Bills need to be paid on time, no exceptions, otherwise late payments can hurt your score, taking up to seven years to wipe away. Debt balance compared to debt available also is a huge part of your score, so avoiding racking up credit cards is obviously important.
Start Saving Right Away
You may not think a few dollars at a time makes a difference, but if you avoid saving for years, you will wish you would have started young. Once you get a “real job” after college, you should contribute to 401(k) right away, as most companies offer matching up to 3-6%, so think of all of that free money you could be leaving on the table.
Today the Jim Cramer’s of the world teach us that a 30 minute syndicated talk show is enough to educate us on the rigors of investing in the market. Investing for the future is the cornerstone of a happy and secure retirement.
Use a Budget
As you go on your own the bills will start to add up, so having an accurate budget, whether you are living with parents or own your own home, is important. Figure out the monthly expenses, set aside minimal spending money, plan for emergencies, and make sure there is enough money left over to contribute to savings accounts. Sure you may think there may not be enough money to go around, but you will need to cut corners somewhere, and unnecessary spending should be the first.