You may be old enough to drive, hold a job and even vote, but at what age should you start learning about money management?
According to a recent survey, only 17 out of 50 states required some kind of personal finance class in public high schools. In the states that do require it, basic knowledge remains spotty for America’s teens and young adults, setting them up for difficult times as they enter adulthood and juggle bills, credit cards, rent and much more.
Many high school and college students might feel like they slept through their personal finance lessons once they enter the adult world, but they don’t need to be stressed out (even if they really did miss a few of those lectures). That’s why it pays to get up to speed with money management as quickly as possible by getting your financial life in order.
Open a bank account
Whether you have a real job or still get by on an allowance, you will want a bank account sooner or later. Sure, it’s easier to keep stashing every dollar in a secret shoebox, but that strategy brings its own problems eventually. Without a basic checking or savings account, it becomes much harder to save, spend and organize your money. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to open a checking or savings account:
- Choose a branch that’s close by and offers basic accounts that would work well for you. Pay attention to ATM fees, minimum balance requirements and other account details. If you don’t keep up with them, fees can quickly sneak up on you and eat away at your hard-earned cash.
- Get your identification in order. You’ll need a valid driver’s license or passport, as well as a second form of ID or proof of residence. If you’re not 18 just yet, you can open a joint account with a parent or legal guardian.
- Once you open your account, make your first deposit. Don’t forget to set up direct deposits (electronic deposits) with your job, if possible.
Know the rules of spending and saving
With a bank account of your own, you’re set to learn the basics of personal finance firsthand. For the best results, it’s important to keep a few ground rules in mind at all times:
- Spending (and saving) adds up quickly. For example, simply opting for home-brewed coffee over a daily trip to the coffee shop could amount to thousands of dollars saved over five years. Yes, we said thousands.
- Money is more than just a number on your phone or bank statement. Consider sticking to cash rather than using a debit or credit card to curb a habit of overspending.
- Always pay yourself first. That’s right, by saving even a small slice of every paycheck, you become the boss of your financial future.
We’re here to help
Trustmark offers convenient, online financial education learning through our Financial Literacy Toolkit. You’ll find information on a variety of topics, as well as useful tips to help you keep your finances in line. There’s something for everyone, like how to pay for college, buy a car and get a loan.
You can also talk to a Trustmark associate at any of our branch locations to learn more about our products and services and how we can help you with your finances - today and in the future.