Great Advice for Grads 2020

If you address your finances only when you feel bad, you may associate the behavior with negative feelings. Clayman gives the example of seeing a shocking credit card statement, panicking and choosing that time to address your overspending. Rather than waiting until you’re preoccupied with anxiety, Clayman recommends scheduling a weekly financial check-in at a neutral time. The idea is to “reprogram your emotional experience around money so that you can be much more effective,” she says. Take 30 minutes each week to review your spending activity and the balances on your checking and savings accounts, as well as any outstanding debt. Then, take note of any upcoming bills or other money events — like payday — and make a loose plan to prepare pending expenses. If you feel overwhelmed by a 30-minute money review, Clayman suggests starting with 15 minutes or even five. (Maybe you simply note your balances.) Keep anxiety in check by focusing only on your current financial picture. However, in time, building comfort and familiarity with your money today may help you prepare for tomorrow. For example, tracking expenses could lead to spending less and having money to sock away. Or, after reviewing your paychecks, you may decide to contribute to your 401(k), a tax-favored retirement savings account offered by some employers. (Contribute at least enough to snag all the matching dollars your employer offers.)

TACKLE SMALL, ACHIEVABLE GOALS Changing behavior “comes down to our sense of identity,” says Newcomb, who used to ignore her own finances. For example, she says: If you’re OK with being someone who pays bills late, you will probably continue to do so. “There came a point when I decided I didn’t want to be that person anymore,” Newcomb says. “Being a person who is on top of their finances is the goal — it’s not that I care so much if the electric company gets their money.” Tackle small, achievable goals, like those check-ins, to start identifying as a financially responsible person, too. To identify your goals, Newcomb asks: “What are the things that feel like a gut punch when you see them?” Ashamed by overdrafts? Go the next two months without one — then another two months. Paying bills late? Make each of next month’s payments on time. (And for each bill, set up autopay, which

Tackle small, achievable goals, like those check-ins, to start identifying as a financially

responsible person, too.

Newcomb describes as a “godsend.”) Bad credit score? Aim for a certain score within a few years, and learn what will help, such as making those on-time payments and keeping your credit card balances below 30% of your overall limit.



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