11 Financial Tips For College Grads Who Don't Know Where To Start

11 Financial Tips For College Grads Who Don't Know Where To Start

Most people learn how to navigate their finances as they go, at the cost of making several mistakes and starting good habits later than they should've. Don't be like most people!

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Adulting is hard, especially when it comes to money. If you're like me and you took a personal finance class in high school or college, you probably don't remember much because the information wasn't relevant to you at the time. Well, now you're almost done with college and you're ready to be welcomed into the real world as a freshly-minted adult. Suddenly you realize that class was probably one of the most important classes you ever could've taken.

Here are 11 tips to start making money moves today.

1. Start building your credit

It may not seem important now, but it's a good idea to start building your credit early. In three to five years or so, when you're ready to apply for a car or home loan, you're going to want to be approved to get the best interest rates, and that means having a credit score of at least 760. See tips two and three for more on how to increase your credit score.

2. Open a credit card if you don't have one already

One huge factor in your credit score is how long your oldest credit card account has been open, so you want to make sure to start early. A first card many people get is called a "secured" credit card, which basically acts like a debit card so the bank knows you won't go all "Shopaholic" and max it out. Make sure to pay every single one of your monthly payments on time and in full. No excuses, no exceptions.

3. Make all of your student loan payments on time and in full

JUST DO IT.

4. Embrace the concept of paying yourself first

Paying yourself first is a concept that many millionaires, even billionaires, swear by. Decide how much of your income you want to save. Then set up a portion of your paycheck to deposit directly into your savings before you can even think about it. The rest can go to your checking account for spending on bills, food, rent, and other expenses.

5. Build a three- to six-month emergency fund

Did you know that 33% of Americans would struggle to pay $1,000 in an emergency? This is a serious issue. You don't want to ever experience living "paycheck to paycheck," let alone have a minor crisis throw your life upside down. That's why you're going to build this emergency fund before you do anything else with your money. Think of this fund as something that you can't touch until you absolutely need it. If and when that time comes, you'll know, and you'll be so grateful that you were smart and were prepared.

6. Open a Roth IRA

There are so many things to be said about Roth IRAs and why you should get one as a new college graduate. In short, IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account. A Roth IRA is unique because any money you put into it is taxed now, so you won't have to pay taxes on it when you're retired and ready to use it. The main benefit: you also won't have to pay any taxes on the money you earn in the account. In addition, because you're young, you get to take advantage of the power of compound interest for a long time before you retire. This could potentially earn you hundreds of thousands of dollars. The best time to open a Roth IRA was yesterday. So go do it now!

7. Contribute as much as possible to your 401k

A 401k is basically an investment bank account that you can't use until you retire, and it will be taxed once you start using it (so it is not taxed now). Many employers offer 401k matching, and they open one up for you when you start your first job. If your employer offers 100% matching up to 6% of your salary, that means that if you can afford to put 6% of your income into your 401k, your employer will also contribute the exact same amount. Listen to me: this is free money. I like free money. You like free money. Take it.

8. Open a high-yield savings account

This is 2019. Don't keep your money in cash or in a regular savings account, where it'll depreciate 2-3% in value every single year it sits there. Get yourself a high-yield savings account, in which interest rates are anywhere between 2.0 and 2.25%, and watch your money make money while you sleep.

9. Start tracking your spending

Since it has become much easier to make quick and painless purchases these days, you should definitely be aware of your spending. I personally like to use a free app, like Mint, that does all the work for you because it puts all of your financial accounts (ie. savings and checking accounts, investments, loans, assets, etc.) into one place.

10. Create a monthly budget for each of your spending categories

These include food, housing, transportation, entertainment, subscriptions, health and wellness, and maybe more. You should know the things you always buy on a monthly basis and how much they typically cost. Comparing your budget to what you really spent after a month will show you exactly where your weaknesses are. Try to stay at or under your budget for each category every month unless there's an unusual event, like a vacation or a car repair.

11. Learn the basics of investing

Compared to the other tips on this list, this is one you can put on the back-burner for a bit. However, that doesn't make it any less important. It's critical for everyone who is financially independent to understand the basics of stocks, bonds, Exchange-Traded Funds, Mutual Funds, REITs, and more that you can use to diversify your portfolio, including in your new Roth IRA and 401k!

What are you waiting for? Up your financial game!

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5 Reasons It's Always Worth It To Be A Summer Camp Counselor

Summer camps have a special place in my heart, and I'm here to share that with you.

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Since I was 15, I have been a counselor at various summer camps. I have been a Program Aide at Girl Scout camp, a counselor at church camp, and a counselor at a day camp. These were all camps that I attended as a kid, so they already had a special place in my heart when I got a chance to work at them.

After being a camp counselor for five years, there are things that I have learned on the job that has helped me in life. Being a counselor has also helped me grow as a person. It's helped me gain skills that I don't think I would have learned in other jobs. I'm here to share what I love about the job of being a camp counselor.

1. You get to be the leader/role model

As a kid, there were many counselors in my life that I looked up to. They were people that I strived to be alike in my life, but now that I'm older, I get to be that person for the kid. What I say and do will influence how the kids around me act. That comes with a lot of stress, but it's also empowering. You can be a positive influence in a kids life, and hopefully, teach them important life lessons.

2. You can be your goofy self

One thing that I love about working with kids is that I can be silly around them. Kids won't judge you for being silly because they're silly right alongside you. They feed off your energy, and it can help them explore the world around them through communication. Plus, when was it not fun to be silly?

3. You get to hang out with kids all day

This reason might turn people off from the job, but it's a part of why I love being a counselor. Hanging out with kids tires me out at times, but they also motivate me to keep going. They're little balls of energy, and I feed off of other people's energies well. The kids also help me feel youthful and like nothing matters. Everything is fun to them; they help me keep a positive outlook on life.

4. Your coworkers become your best friends

Working at a summer camp can be difficult at times. It's emotionally and physically draining as well. But having a good support team helps with that. The counselors that I have worked with in the past have become my best friends, and I still stay in touch with some. They're there for you when no one else is, and they understand what you're going through. You know that their feelings for you are genuine, and they want to help as much as they can.

5. You get to watch the kids grow

Over the summer, I get to see the same kids every week at my camp. I get to see them grow as people over the summer and it's a rewarding experience knowing that I was able to help them. Watching them become leaders and grow into little helpers by the end of the summer is one of my favorite things.

I'm excited to have the opportunity to work at a summer camp again this year. I know that it'll provide an opportunity to grow as a person and I can't wait to see my favorite kids again.

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Overvaluing Assets Is The Most Harmful Cause Of Financial Crisis

There are a number of causes behind financial crisis, and arguably the worst is the overvaluing of assets.

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Hundreds of years ago, financial crises were insulated. It was a problem that a country would face on its own. If one country plummeted, others would face little to no struggles in relation.

Today's economy has been globalized. Investment banks are global. Oil companies are global. Free trade is encouraged, and the exchange of goods and prices have high interconnectivity. As a result, a financial crisis in either the United States, China, or the United Kingdom can have a rippling effect on the rest of the world.

There are a variety of things that can cause a financial crisis. One of the most harmful is the overvaluing of assets. Overvaluing assets caused both The Great Depression and the 2008 Financial Crisis. What is overvaluing assets, and how does it really harm the economy?

The overvaluing of assets typically originates in the stock market. That's how it started both in 2008 and 1929. To better understand overvaluing assets, we can study the 2008 financial crisis.

Banks were engaging in risky lending practices in 2008 like sub-prime loans and mortgage-backed securities.

Subprime Lending: Typically banks don't lend to individuals with low credit or little collateral. In the '90s however, banks began to engage in this sort of lending. This made it easier for people, in general terms, to purchase homes. As a result, the demand for homes rose quickly.

Mortgage-backed Securities: Banks also started to trade mortgage-backed securities. These were essentially bundles of a hundred mortgages, packed together. These securities were categorized by risk and being sold and bought by different banks. But banks knew little to nothing about the ability of these borrowers to pay back their mortgages. Despite that, the securities were being traded.

Eventually, low credit borrowers began to default on the loans. The sub-prime loan business began to tank, recouping little to nothing on their loans. Even further, the mortgage-backed securities were valued significantly higher than what they were worth.

A simple example follows. Banks had originally believed they may get 70% of the borrowed money back. They reported such numbers as assets in their books. But since they didn't really know much about the mortgage-backed security they purchased, they were surprised to find out high rates of borrowers were defaulting. They were making pennies on the dollar. The public began to notice and as a result, lowered stock investments into these banks. The stock market began to decline, and financial institutions were losing tons of money.

In situations where banks are closing and need money, there are two options:

1) get a loan from another bank, or

2) get a loan from the Federal Reserve.

But banks were afraid to make loans to each other because they didn't know the real value of the banks who were borrowing. Would they be paid back or not? So loans from banks to save other banks declined. Interbank lending dried up.

This led to a credit crunch. Banks were afraid to loan to everyone. If you weren't a top of the shelf creditor, you weren't getting a loan from the banks in 2008. Because of this, saving increased and spending declined. Banks weren't making investments in firms or households. Capital decreased dramatically. Without a loan, how can a business buy all the new equipment they need? How can they finance some of their more costly processes? Businesses closed.

In the end, the decrease in capital led to lower levels of productivity, creating a vicious cycle of crisis.

There are a few things that can be done to fix it. In this situation, the Federal Reserve did its best to preserve financial institutions. They "bailed out" the banks. The economy took years to recover, even after the necessary measures were taken. This sort of financial crisis can be dangerous for an inept economy. But at times it can be difficult to avoid such situations. There is little that can be done to anticipate this sort of situation. Questionable bank practices are difficult to monitor, let alone their impact on the economy.

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