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Are you in Good Hands?


Your newly minted graduate may have learned plenty in school. But avoiding money mistakes probably wasn’t on the curriculum. Forewarned is forearmed! Prevent these disasters before they happen to the not-quite-grown-ups in your family.

Did You Know?

$15,270 The average American household’s credit card debt
$3,720 The average amount impulse purchases can cost every year

Fiasco #1: Someone stole his identity, and took it on a spending spree in Vegas. The facts: Identity theft was the No. 1 complaint to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network in 2013.

Prevent It: Show him how to cover all of the bases: Shred any statements that aren’t filed away, and put the ones he does keep in a locked file cabinet. When he’s out and about, remind him to keep an eye on his credit card, and to never sign a blank receipt.

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Fiasco #2: That bargain used car she fell in love with costs her (and maybe you) thousands in repairs. The facts:Car maintenance costs rose 11.26% last year.

Prevent It: Penny-wise can be pound-foolish. If your grad is considering a discounted car, ask her to consider the long-term costs of maintaining it. She should get it checked by a mechanic before she buys, and do her online research. And make sure she doesn’t compromise on road safety. An injury isn’t worth short-term savings.

Fiasco #3: A surprise medical bill has him scrambling for cash. The facts: 62% of people between ages 18 and 29 don’t have enough emergency savings to cover three months of living expenses.

Prevent It: Teach him the basics of budgeting, which include building that all-important rainy-day fund. After he’s sure he has enough to cover the lights and credit cards, show him how to set up an automated monthly contribution from his paycheck to his savings account to make putting the cash away easier.

Fiasco #4: Her interest-free credit card suddenly spiked her APR. The facts: Only 15% of 18-to-34-year-olds understand the real cost of a bad credit score.

Prevent It: Lending options for young people often come with surprises. This can also include store credit cards and big-ticket items, such as the variable mortgages that put so many young homeowners in a bad place. Let her know she should read the conditions carefully before she borrows money.

The key to simpler finances is in your pocket.

There are phone apps for everything these days: A quick download can help you track your spending, set a budget, remember which bills to pay when (try Mint Personal Finance or BDGT), and find the cheapest gas station (like GasBuddy or Fuel Finder). But remember there are real-life experts you can turn to with questions, too!