First of all, congratulations! You graduated from high school and you are ready to begin a new chapter in your life. Whether you have decided to attend college and work part time, or work full time for a year after high school, these financial tips will help you to establish yourself and ensure that you will achieve your goals.
Develop a positive relationship with money. That may sound really strange, but you need to realize that money itself is simply neutral. It’s how you handle it that determines whether money is going to serve you or you are going to serve it. The way to develop this positive relationship is to make sure that you are always in control of your money. The key to staying in control is to never spend more than you earn and to get into the habit of saving wisely.
Think before you spend. You are now on your own. No one is looking over your shoulder and asking you how you are spending your money. It is up to you to be responsible with your money and only buy the things you really need. Sure, you can treat yourself once in a while, but remember, only spend money you actually have, and never buy things on credit that you can’t afford to pay back.
Start saving regularly and automatically. The best way to save is to think about what you want to save for. You will never be motivated to save until you have a definite purpose for saving. Once you have a goal in mind, the next step is to set up a savings account or a Tax Free Savings Account and set up preauthorized payments into the account. This way you don’t even have to think about saving, it will literally happen automatically.
Apply for a credit card to build your credit. In Canada, it is very important that you build your credit. If you don’t have any credit history it is very difficult to be approved for a loan or mortgage down the road. The best way to build a good credit history is to get a credit card with a low limit. Use it once or twice a month for a small purchase, and then pay off the full balance every month. This way it won’t cost you anything in interest but you are showing the Credit Bureau that you can handle credit responsibly. Note: Just simply getting a credit card and not using it will not help you build credit. Note #2: Carrying a balance very close to your limit is not a good idea either.
Ask people you trust for advice. Not everyone has a good financial role model. Sometimes parents can teach you bad habits rather than good ones. Seek advice from someone you trust who you know is financially responsible. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes instead of having to learn from your own, so don’t be afraid to ask for guidance.
Look past the environment you are living in. Finally, it’s important to remember that the environment you are living in is NOT going to help you to handle your money wisely. The bombardment of advertising and messages telling you that you need everything NOW is something you need to ignore and/or overcome if you ever want to be financially savvy. I’ve seen many students who racked up hefty student loans while attending school only because they wanted to live the good life instead of living more fugally. As young university graduates, they then had letters behind their names but huge debts looming ahead of them for many years.
I am confident that if you can follow these six tips, you will be well on your way to becoming a financially responsible adult, and you will be far more likely to achieve your goals, whatever they may be.