I Just Graduated from College, Welcome to My Private Jet

by Stacy Tharp 18. October 2012

Average Starting Salaries for College GradsHey college grads - picture this: after receiving your diploma, you’ve landed a great job at a Fortune 500 company and you’ve got a killer apartment in Harbor East overlooking the water, on which you spend your weekends out on your new boat, where your new “bling” sparkles in the sunlight. Now take a safety pin and pop that ridiculous dream cloud. I could say I’m sorry for smashing (or popping) your dreams, but instead I’m going to say welcome to the real world!

You may have once been the big man on campus, but have you ever heard of the big-fish-little-pond effect? Welcome to the ocean. Now, if you are intelligent, motivated, and a hard worker, I’m sure you’ll go far in your chosen career…but no matter how intelligent, motivated, and hard-working you are, chances are you’ll be beginning your career in a tiny cubicle with a measly paycheck. Oh, and don’t forget about those lovely student loans that it’s time to start paying off.

In order to avoid that “I-think-I-should-be-able-to-live-like-a-rock-star-since-I’m-done-with-college-and-have-a-real-job-now” complex, take into consideration some of these tips for managing your money when you first enter the real world:

  • Open a checking and savings account if you don’t already have them. Though you are no longer a student, many banks will still allow you to open a student/starter checking account, which generally offers some extra advantages over other basic checking accounts.
  • Set a monthly and weekly budget. Figure out how much money you’ll need for bills each month, decide on a realistic amount of money you plan on saving, then take the rest and do the math (yup, still using math out of school) to figure out how to spread out your spending money evenly over the course of the month. Online personal finance management tools can be helpful with this.
  • Make sacrifices. After you create your budget, chances are you’ll have less spending money than you would’ve hoped for, so you’re going to have to prioritize your wants. Do you have to have that Starbucks latte every morning? That’s fine, but you may have to cut out those Thursday evening Happy Hours.
  • Pay all of your bills on time. You can do this easily using a bill pay service, which allows you to schedule payments ahead of time and set up recurring monthly payments. If you find that you are having trouble paying your bills on time, reconfigure your budget.
  • Open a credit card account. Stick to one credit card at first, and don’t charge things to your card that you can’t actually afford.
  • Take advantage of any benefits that your new job offers. Health insurance plans are generally much cheaper when you purchase them through your employer, and many companies offer 401(k) matching benefits. You need to start saving for retirement anyway (unless you plan on working forever), so you might as well let your employer help add to your fund.

The GOOD news is, at some point you’ll start making more money. When this happens, you can add a little more to your weekly budget, but seeing as you’ve been able to survive on your current budget, try to think about your long-term goals and add most of your extra cash to your savings.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

How I Graduated Debt-Free from College

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Money in Your 30s: Manage It, Don't Be Managed by It

by Wade Barnes 4. October 2012

30Like it or not, the days when maybe it was okay to be slightly irresponsible with your money are over. You may have worked a job or two, but now you’re moving into the career years ahead. As you nail down a stable job with a stable income, it’s time to start managing your money so that money doesn’t manage you for the rest of your life. With these simple tips, we’ll point you in the right direction.

Debt

It's time to deleverage. The best way to increase your cash flow is to decrease money going to unnecessary interest charges. Focus on paying off all debt that isn’t tied to a mortgage. Concentrate on the loans with the highest interest rates first, likely those carried by credit cards, then focus on car loans, student loans, and any other non-mortgage related debt. Caution: moving debt between credit cards and other loan types is not deleveraging.

Kick the habit of assuming debt to make purchases. Save money for big purchases so you don’t have to finance these items using credit. That being said, if you get 0% financing for a period of time, don’t hesitate to use this money for free, but be sure the debt is paid in full before the period expires to avoid huge interest charges.

Family

Marriage is the most important event in a person’s life in many ways. When you marry your life to someone, you also marry your finances. This is a great opportunity to meet with a Financial Consultant to consider everything in your financial portfolio from investments to insurance and retirement planning.

If you’re planning to have children, this is also a great time to meet with a Financial Consultant. You’ll want to consider setting up a college savings plan to help cover the cost of education. While nobody likes to think about life insurance, this is a great time to make sure your family is covered in the event that the unthinkable should occur.

Savings

Start building an emergency savings account. It is suggested that you should have at least three months of salary in savings. With this emergency savings account, it will be easier to weather the storm if hard times or unexpected expenses occur.

While it might be hard to consider retirement when you’re in your 30s, there’s no better time than now to start socking away money for life after work. The power of compounding interest really adds up when time is on your side. Consider increasing the percentage of income going towards retirement savings by 1% every year when in your 30s. Use a retirement calculator to get an idea of what it takes to save for your retirement years so you can live comfortably and enjoy the fruit of your laboring years.

In short, when you’re in your 30s, it’s time to make your money work for you so you are starting your adult life with a solid financial footing. By paying off debt, creating a savings plan and addressing insurance and investment options, you’ll be well on the way to enjoying your adult life with responsible financial habits.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Debt to Income Ratio: What it is and how it helps (or hurts) your chances of getting a loan

How I Graduated Debt-Free From College

The Imaginary Mortgage - Fake It Til You Make It

One Size Fits for Life

by Elizabeth Sherman 26. September 2012

Is Your Business in the Right Checking Account?

Recently, I got a call from a potential new customer inquiring about our business checking accounts. These calls always get my blood pumping with the anticipation that the business on the other end of the line will need every service I can offer. It can be very exciting!

In this case, the business was a startup and not expected to carry very high balances for the first year. In an attempt to put this business in the right account, I asked a few questions. How many deposits will you make each month? How many checks will you write each month? What is the anticipated average balance each month? Based on the answers, I was able to suggest an account that mirrored the needs of the customer. Okay – end of story, right?

WRONG!

The type of account that may work during the infancy stages of a business will most likely be detrimental to the business as it grows. With any luck, as the business grows, so will the volume of transactions processed through the account. It is for this reason that banks offer a multitude of business accounts. Each account offers something different, whether it’s a higher number of transactions allowed or a higher balance requirement.

It is imperative that you, as the business owner, keep an eye on your account and assess the activity that flows through the account. If you suddenly start to see service fees where there were none the month before, look at the volume of transactions. Has it increased dramatically over the months? If so, touch base with your banker to find out what options you have to upgrade to an account that will fit your growing business. The most basic business account that initially appears to be the best value could end up costing you a bundle in fees.

As a Business Banker, it is my job to sell business products, but more importantly, to bring in new business and help business owners navigate through the product jungle we call banking. I can suggest every product under the sun, but if it isn’t a good fit, I won’t have that business for long.

If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out these related articles:

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