Consumer Watch: Financial tips for new college grads


by Andy Treinen

Posted on May 21, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Updated Monday, May 21 at 5:02 PM

A shaky job market and student loan debt could send new graduates to credit cards to finance the first steps of their adult financial lives, but the wrong decisions now could haunt them later.

In today’s Consumer Watch, we've got tips to stay on track.

For many members of the class of 2012, the dream job and the dream salary won't come right away. Some may even turn to credit to bridge financial gaps, but a word of warning if you’re a recent grad – credit could begin a slide down a slippery slope. 

Credit standing and credit scores can impact everything from apartment leases to car loans, and in some cases, job applications.  

Beverly Harzog of said getting off to a solid start can be really simple. 

“When it comes to credit, the most important thing when you're starting out is, yes it's fine to get a credit card because it is important to build a good credit history, but pay that balance off every month. You really have to do that,” Harzog said. 

Young people can find themselves with a lot of offers for their first credit cards. Harzog said don't be flattered, millions of others get the same exact offers.

“Don't fall for the hype. Take a deep breath, and read the offers very carefully. Read the fine print. And don't get a card unless you absolutely do need one,” Harzog said.
Key points in that fine print include the interest rate and any fees, especially those that might be attached to a rewards card. 

Another thing to keep in mind - learning doesn't stop at graduation. Young people should ask for help on the topics like credit, savings and investing that will define their financial lives.  

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