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High school graduates and college graduates face a plethora of challenges. This is especially true if the economic uncertainty persists, as many products are scarce or not available at all. However, there are also some options that previous generations didn’t have.

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Most of the time, the usual money recommendations still apply even in these uncertain times. Both high school and college graduates can benefit from following solid money advice and practicing good money habits.

We asked some of the best money experts to share their tips that new graduates can follow to complete money challenges.

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High school graduates: accept free money first

Graduating from high school is an exciting time in everyone’s life. The graduation itself is not only exciting, but also the beginning of a new chapter in college for many. Money may be the last thing you think about, but there are a few important things to keep in mind.

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First, accept any free money. This doesn’t mean someone is handing out free piles of cash on the street (although that would be nice). No, “free money” in this case refers to scholarships and grants.

“Accept free money first,” said Annette Harris, finance coach and founder at Harris financial coaching. “When applying for financial assistance, you should first accept scholarships or grants. This money does not have to be paid back and does not bear any interest. If credit is required, only accept the minimum amount required. “

High school graduates: borrow less money

Most of us have to borrow money to go to college. Tuition fees have increased rapidly, which increases the need for credit. Still, you shouldn’t borrow more money than necessary – another point Annette Harris emphasized.

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“If you receive the loan offers after completing the FAFSA, you do not have to take the entire loan amount. You can accept partial loans, the entire loan, or decline the loan if scholarships or grants can cover the costs. “

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Needless to say, you will need to borrow enough money to cover your tuition fees. But if the loan turns out to be more than you need, don’t accept the full amount. After all, you have to pay it back – with interest.

University graduates: start saving early

Again, those early years are the ones when you might want to think about anything but Money. It is important to do so, however, because getting on the right track early in life can lead to financial security later. And because of the compound interest, there is no substitute for an early start to retirement provision.

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Dennis E. Nixon, Chairman and CEO of International commercial bank, stressed the importance of saving early. “While it may seem a long way off, it is cheaper and more manageable to put money aside for retirement sooner rather than later when you start in your early 20s. You can start using your workplace benefits like a 401 (K). “

Nixon also pointed out the importance of using an employer match if your employer offers one. You can call this “free money”. That’s because you don’t have to do anything additional to take advantage of the benefits (other than signing up if it doesn’t happen automatically). Without a doubt, employer matching is one of the best tools you have at your disposal to start your retirement plan.

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Graduates: Start a Budget

Apparently everyone is at least vaguely aware of the benefits of budgeting, but nowhere near everyone is actually doing it. For many of us this is a mistake. Kevin Walker, editor at CollegeFinance.com, gave a glimpse of how many people are budgeting for college. CollegeFinance.com surveyed over 1,000 people to understand the financial mistakes they believe they made as college students, entry-level professionals, and first moving out, and what they learned from those “mistakes,” especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. “

The result? Only 47% of respondents said they used a budget while studying. “Around half of young people admitted spending more than they realized, investing too little and saving too little early in their careers,” said Walker.

This is exactly why budgeting is so important. It will help you get to the heart of the problem and come up with a plan on how to spend your money more responsibly.

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High school graduates or college graduates: Live at home

This tip may be relevant for high school graduates or college graduates, depending on the situation. This applies to both high school graduates attending college near where they live and college graduates who are just starting their careers. Moswen James, registered agent at Get help with taxes and accounting, pointed out the advantages of living.

This move might not be the “cool” or fun thing, but the financial benefits can more than pay off in the long run. For those just starting college, you can avoid room and board. College graduates may not have to pay rent after college (if their parents aren’t charging rent). In the latter case, you’ll have a lot more cash to pay off and invest your student loans.

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Last updated: June 11, 2021

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Dear Graduate, This is what you should know about your money