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News: Getting Finances in Shape After Graduation -

Boning up on personal finance might be a good idea for soon-to-be graduates, according to a new study by KeyBank. They found that just 20% of students do know what their financial goals are, but even with that, they admit that they are not sure how to reach them.

To help new graduates get started Key Bank has come up with some tips that cover everything from budgeting and saving for an emergency to prepping for retirement and managing their credit score.

Credit scores, budgets, and saving

Credit scores play an important role in everyone’s financial life, impacting everything from apartment rentals to getting a loan, so establishing a credit history, and then keeping an eye on your credit score is key.

"People talk about good credit and bad credit, but it's really a question of managing credit rather than categorizing it," said Gary Chavoustie, KeyBank Connecticut market regional sales leader, and regional network consumer loans sponsor.

Keeping credit scores on track typically includes keeping up with payments, whether that is paying student loan bills, credit card bills or other bills. Also, they suggest that keeping credit card debt down can help.

Budgeting is also an important step when it comes to meeting goals and paying bills. Getting started creating a budget includes taking into account all the graduates month to month financial responsibilities and needs, including rent, transportation, insurance, food, utilities, student loan bills, and clothing.

Also, an important part of getting started reaching financial goals is building up emergency savings so that if anything happens the individual has three to six months of expenses to hold them over. But it goes beyond unemployment these savings can be used to cover unexpected expenses like car repairs or medical bills.

But there is more, they suggest starting an additional account to save for long-term goals, which might include buying a home, getting a car or traveling.

And then there is retirement

After emergency savings, and an account for long-term goals comes saving for retirement. "Investing sooner rather than later, whether it's in your retirement account, or in addition to retirement, is the single most effective way to be more confident about your personal finances," said Marc Vosen, president of Key Investment Services.

"Time is the one thing you cannot get back, and time has a major impact on investment results. Young investors need to understand the effect of compounding and how a small investment, over time, can go a long, long way," he said.

If the graduate’s employer offers a 401K plan they suggest taking part can get them started on saving, and taking advantage of any kind of employer matching program if it’s available can maximize results.