Smart About Money: Setting yourself up for success after college

Nick Maffeo

Some things that didn’t matter much (or at all!) while you were in college definitely become important after college graduation. While you are getting your arms around your new life and your post-college financial future, here are a few things you may want to consider:

1) In many families, parents to do most of the work applying for student loans. Sometimes new graduates have lost track of what loans they have and what they need to do next. Now is the time for you to get a very clear picture of exactly what you owe and when you’re expected to start paying it back.

If neither you or your parents are sure (which is very common), your school’s financial aid office should be able to help you figure it out.

2) Because of COVID, college loan payments are deferred and interest is not accruing. But if you know what your payments are going to be, it can only help you to get into the habit of making a payment monthly and depositing that amount into a savings account for the time being.

Bonus if you actually do this: When student loan payments start being required again, you will have money set aside to make your payments for months, or more! If student loans are ultimately forgiven, you will have the start of a nice emergency/rainy day fund.

3) Using a debit card or cash lets you only spend the money you actually have. But if you’ve been wanting a credit card and you’re planning to get one, set it up from the start so the minimum monthly payment is paid automatically from your checking account.

You can – and should! – always pay more than the minimum. But knowing for sure that minimum is automatically covered will save you from getting hit with penalty fees and penalty interest rates if something unanticipated occurs, or if you simply forget to make the payment.

4) It seems that many young people are under the impression that nothing important will ever arrive via snail mail. In fact, after college, snail mail is the only way some very important documents will be sent to you. They probably won’t be sent to your parents and possibly not sent to you via email. If you have changed your address or your email, update your contact information right away with lenders, loan servicers and others who may be trying to reach you.

The goal: To be sure you are receiving notices with time to respond or dispute before you go into default and get stuck starting your new life with a ding on your credit that will make it more difficult to do things like buy a car or rent an apartment.

5) The Wall Street Journal has noticed something they call “tech-induced loneliness.” While it obviously affects people of all ages, there are reports suggesting that some young people raised with the internet feel uncomfortable speaking with others. You will know best if person-to-person communication is an issue for you. If it is, look for ways to expand your skill set to include communicating in-person confidently. That will pay all kinds of dividends.

One last thing: You will run into financial predicaments over the years. Everyone does. Don’t make the mistake of trying to avoid dealing with these situations. Usually, that just makes things worse. Facing dilemmas head-on and asking for help if you need it will get you out from under faster – and that applies to non-financial dilemmas too!

 

Nick Maffeo is the President & CEO of Canton Co-operative Bank – right next to the Post Office in Canton. Have a question? Email to info@cantoncoopbank.com.

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