As we mentioned during April’s financial literacy month, most schools don’t teach students about personal finances, sending them into the world without even a basic understanding of how to manage money.
According to the 2017 Financial Report Card from the Center for Financial Literacy, only five states get an A grade when it comes to teaching school kids about finance! See if your state makes the grade and tell us if you agree in the comments for a chance to win 100 MoneyLion points redeemable for gift cards by Thursday, June 7. We’ll select 3 lucky winners!
What every grad should know about money
Whether you’re graduating from high school or college, or simply trying to learn a few things about finance, here are 10 things every grad should know about money.
1. Tracking your spending puts you in control.
Many people spend their money without much foresight or planning. They only know they’ve overspent when the overdraft fees hit. Ouch! Overdraft fees just make banks richer and you poorer. When you track your spending and income with the MoneyLion app (learn more: online I mobile), you’ll get alerts when your balance is low so you can put the brakes on spending and avoid bank fees.
2. Saving a little money every month is essential.
Budget your monthly income and expenses so that you’re able to save some money every month. Any amount is worth it! This might require little sacrifices like cutting back on shopping or dining out. If you use the MoneyLion app, we’ll track your spending and income and give you personalized tips on saving more money.
3. Compound interest can make you wealthy over time.
When you save or invest any amount money, it earns interest. And that interest earns interest too. That’s the power of compound interest. All it needs is time. That means saving from a young age -- even if it’s only $5 a week -- is so beneficial. Check out our post on retirement account options and robo-advisors for the best ways to save for the future.
4. You can build your credit without racking up debt.
If open a credit card to build your credit, you must use it strategically! Make sure you pay it off in full on time every month. On-time payments account for more than one-third of your credit score. Credit utilization (how much of your available credit you spend) also impacts your score. Ideally, you should spend less than 30% of your credit each month. So, if your card has a $300 limit, charge and pay off $100 or less each month.
5. Be your own safety net.
Building an emergency fund on your own is the best way to know that you’ll be okay if the unexpected happens. If you need money fast, you don’t want to have to turn to high-interest credit card debt. MoneyLion Plus (learn more: online I mobile) was designed to help you cover unexpected expenses. It’s a monthly membership that helps you save into your own managed investment account while also giving you anytime access to a $500 5.99% APR loan.
6. Spending with cash (not credit) helps you spend less.
It’s proven that people spend about 10% more when they’re using a credit card instead of cash. It’s nearly 100% more in some instances! McDonald’s reports that its average receipt is $7 when people use credit cards versus $4.50 for cash. If you do use a credit card, never put more on a credit card than you can pay off that month. And if you think you won’t have the discipline to control your credit card spending, just don’t get one or consider a secured card where you preload your money and can only spend what you have.
7. Set up an auto savings program to make saving painless.
Setting up automatic transfers from your bank account into a separate account takes the guesswork (and the need for self-control!) out of saving. You can set the amount and the timing (say $25 every two weeks), and the money will automatically be set aside for you. For example, with MoneyLion app (learn more: online I mobile), we’ll transfer a set amount from your checking account into a managed investment account every month to help grow your savings. At the same time, you’ll also get access to 5.99% APR loans, so you can borrow money if unexpected expenses come up.
8. Being yourself pays off.
The more you grow in life, the more people you’ll meet. And the more people you meet, the more you’re going to see that everyone has different means. It’s tempting to want to keep up with the heavy hitters who seem to always have the newest cars, clothes, and travel stories. They may also be the same people who are hiding the highest amount of debt. Stick to your budget, work hard, and you’ll be able to afford the things you want in time.
9. Get renter’s insurance.
By the time you graduate, you’ve probably learned an important life lesson: sh#t happens. Renter’s insurance can protect your stuff in the case of flood, theft, and other mishaps. In fact, most renter's insurance provides coverage for your personal belongings, whether they are in your home, car, or with you while you're on vacation. It can also provide liability coverage in case someone is injured in your home or if you accidentally cause injury to someone. Check out low-cost renter’s insurance options from our partner Jetty.
10. Don’t make career decisions based only on dollar amounts.
When weighing a job offer, make sure you factor in everything, not just the base salary. Maybe one job offers a higher pay, but it’s farther away, so you’ll lose time and money on a long commute. Or maybe a job offers a bit less in pay but is in a more established and secure company. Having job security can be priceless. Do the math and make a pros/cons list before you say yes to the highest offer.
The future is bright, graduates!
We hope these tips serve you well as you embark on the next phase of life. For more free financial tips and tools -- from tracking your spending to monitoring your credit to choosing the right credit card -- download the MoneyLion app. You’ll even find community trivia in the app every day. Finance can be fun. Really!
MoneyLion Plus general disclosure: MoneyLion Plus membership required. View full terms and conditions here.
MoneyLion Plus investment account: * Not FDIC Insured or Bank Guaranteed * May Lose Value. The guided investment account is subject to risks, including but not limited to the loss of principal. Not bank or FDIC insured. This advertisement should not be construed as a recommendation regarding the suitability of purchasing a particular security or securities in general.