Wellness Tips

McRae: Financial tips for your high school graduate

By Treasurer David McRae 

It’s graduation season in Mississippi, kickstarting a summer of preparation for our graduates and their families. Most parents use these next few months to bestow the essentials on their children – from the twin XL bed sheets that are only really needed in college dorm rooms to towels, desk lamps, and a few sets of trendy new clothes. Of course, in many cases that preparation comes not only in the form of consumer goods, but in conversations filled with life hacks and wisdom.

Many of these discussions (and rightly so!) will be about physical safety and health, but it can be easy to forget the all-important conversation about financial wellness too. So, let me help you start that conversation today with four basic principles to share with a graduate in your life:

  1. Save, Save, Save. Establishing healthy saving habits is foundational to long-term financial responsibility. Be sure to discuss that setting money aside will help ensure they’re better prepared for emergencies, larger purchases (such as a car or plane ticket home), and future milestones.
  2. Spend What You Have – and not a credit card swipe more! It can be all too easy to succumb to the allure of credit cards – especially for first timers! For college students with big dreams and a not-so-big wallet, credit cards can seem like quick fix to doing everything you want. But credit card debt is much harder to pay off than take on. Help graduates understand how to balance their accounts and only spend within their means – even if it means they miss out on the newest iPhone.
  3. Set Goals Early. Encourage your graduate to think about short-term and long-term financial goals now. Doing so will help them keep perspective on how they choose to spend the money they do have. It also helps them understand what’s a necessity (food, water, gas), a short-term luxury (a nice dinner out, a concert ticket), or a long-term goal (a car).
  4. Continue to Learn. Financial responsibility is a continued practice, and it’s okay to experiment with different saving and spending techniques to find what works best for your graduate and their lifestyle. The most important thing is to encourage them to keep educating themselves on financial wellness.

If you’re looking for more resources, I encourage you to visit the State Treasury’s website (www.treasury.ms.gov/FinancialEducation). Here, I’ve curated financial information, games, and tools for all ages – from kindergarten to adulthood. Exposing your graduate to these resources now will put them on a better financial path wherever their future leads. It’s one of the best ways that we, as parents, can prepare our children for what is to come.

Congratulations 2023 graduates! I wish you the very best as your life continues to unfold.

Mississippi Treasurer David McRae is the 55th Treasurer for the State of Mississippi. In this role, he helps manage the state’s cash flow, oversees College Savings Mississippi, and has returned nearly $65 million in unclaimed money to Mississippians. For more information, visit www.Treasury.MS.gov

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