Better Finances for Recent Graduates

By CNN News Wire

Published 06/05 2014 01:00PM

Updated 06/05 2014 01:03PM

Chances are most new grads are not thinking about savings, retirement, or homebuying right now. But they should be. A solid financial foundation starts early.

Post-recession, many money milestones have shifted.

"Typically, you had a job and bought your first car, got a car loan. And now, with so much student loan debt, people are putting off buying cars and even moving out of homes," says Susan Bruno of the American Institute of CPAs Financial Literacy Commission

The number of homeowners under age 35 is at a record low, while the number of households with student loan debt is at a high. 

But the news for grads isn't all bad. Janet Bodnar of Kiplinger's Personal Finance says, time, is on their side.
"One of the most important resources they have right now is time, and that effects lots of different things. So, for example, if they're starting to save for retirement, they've got 40-plus years to go."

The class of 2014 can also learn from some pre-recession mistakes their parents may have made, accumulating consumer debt, and taking on mortgages they couldn't afford, and spending what could be saved.

"A lot of younger people make the mistake of thinking, Oh my gosh, I'm living on a budget, I don't have two nickels to rub together, I'm living paycheck-to-paycheck, I don't have money to set aside. Or, they think they need to have more money, that it doesn't matter if I put small amounts aside," Bruno notes.

Those small amounts can go toward an important short-term goal.

"The first thing to do is build that emergency savings fund, because if you're lucky enough to get a job, you are the low man on the totem pole - you may lose that job. You have to have the means to get from one job to the next. "

A new grad may never need that emergency fund. At the very least, it's a solid financial foundation.

(Karin Caifa for CNN's Consumer Watch)

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