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Giving Financial Advice to High School Graduates

Giving Financial Advice to High School Graduates
Joy Newhouse, senior vice president and regional manager for Hills Bank, with her daughter Hannah, a 2019 graduate of Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids. (Submitted photo)

If you’re a proud parent of a high school graduate, you probably have a lot of advice you want to share with them about how to navigate the next stage of their lives, whether that is college, the workforce, or something else entirely. And as your child becomes more independent, one of the biggest areas they’ll need help with is handling their finances.

Take it from Joy Newhouse, senior vice president and regional manager at Hills Bank and parent of a 2019 class graduate whose college class load doesn’t allow for a part-time job. “The biggest adjustment for my daughter was learning how to manage her money during long stretches of time without income,” she said.

Depending on whether your graduate continues to live at home, managing their finances while juggling all the other responsibilities of adult life can be daunting. “My biggest concern was that she might make a financial error, like a late or missed payment, that could negatively affect her credit score,” Newhouse said. “So we had a conversation ahead of time to make sure she knew what to do.”

How to help your child for life after graduation

Newhouse offers these recommendations to help parents prepare their child for life after graduation:

1. Make sure your child has a bank account — ideally a checking account with an unlimited-use debit card. Having a safe place to keep cash with easy access to ATMs and the ability to transfer funds quickly can give both you and your graduate peace of mind.

2. Make sure they know how to use online banking to view account balances and see transactions coming in and out. Once those financial basics are taken care of, Newhouse recommends setting your child up for success by building their credit.

“When she was in high school, I added my daughter as a co-borrower on one of my credit cards to help her establish credit and pay for gas,” she said. “That credit history helped her get her own credit card, which she can now use to improve her credit score and get better terms for future loans.”

3. Help your graduate set up a savings account for larger purchases and long-term goals. “Though money can be tight for recent graduates, setting aside just a tiny bit each month and keeping it safe in a savings account can really add up over time,” Newhouse said.

4. Make sure your child knows to ask for help if they need it. It can make the transition from high school to what comes next a lot easier, Newhouse said.

“Parents have different philosophies on how much they should be involved in their child’s lives after they graduate,” she said. “But when they’re learning how to handle financial situations they’ve never faced before, you want to make your child knows who to talk to; whether that’s a personal finance expert at the bank or a household finance expert like yourself!”

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