Financial advice for new graduates

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Local financial advisor Tim Dern has some important advice to make sure graduates are smart with their money. (WLS)

The Class of 2018 is ready for their next adventure!

But before the celebrations begin, local financial advisor Tim Dern has some important advice to make sure graduates are smart with their money.
Track Every Dollar
-Budgeting doesn't have to be painful - there are free apps like Mint.com that do a lot of
the work for you.
-Whether you go with an app or the old-fashioned pen and paper, what's important is
that you know where your money is going.
- Set spending limits and savings goals and make sure you stick to them.
-You'll thank yourself for years to come if you start the habit of budgeting early.

Pay Down Debt
-The average student loan balance is more than $34,000. (Source if you choose to use
stat: Experian)

-Many parents are helping out - 20% say they've helped pay student loans. (Source if you
choose to use stat: creditcards.com)
-What you don't want to do is make the matter worse by missing payments, getting hit
with late fees or even worse, going into default.
-Set up an automatic payment, and make it a goal to stick with a 10-year repayment
plan.
-When the ten years is up, make payments to yourself by saving that money in your
retirement accounts.

Give Yourself a Head Start
-Grads, you have an opportunity your parents don't: you have time on your side!

-Start saving in your company's 401(k) as soon as you are eligible.
-A good benchmark is to have one year of your annual salary saved by age 30, two times
your annual salary by age 35 and eventually 10 times your annual salary by age 67, according to Fidelity.

Save for Emergencies
- Whether you're 18 or 68, I recommend having an emergency fund to cover the
unexpected expenses that come up in life.
-Try putting away $25 a month into a dedicated savings account, with the goal of adding
up to at least $1,000.
- This is a good place to start. When you're your parents' age, you will want 3 to 6 months
worth of income set aside for emergencies.
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