College Friendly Finance 

The number of people under 25 who are declaring bankruptcy has never been higher.Misuse of credit and astronomical student loans are putting many young people in a world of debt.Many young people may not realize it, but every overdue credit card payment, missed utility bill or late rent check affects their credit.Because student loans will never just magically disappear, learning how to manage finances early on and plan ahead can help young people avoid a devastating financial fate. “I really started getting into finances, speaking with family members and that sort of thing, in high school, but I really got into it, financial planning and that sort of thing, in college.” Aaron Ellis, a soon to be graduate of Maine Maritime Academy, started learning about finances at a young age from his aunt, Darcy Main-Boyington. “He has a great plan. He wants to pay off his college education quickly. He wants to buy a house in cash. He wants to buy his cars in cash and he has a plan to be able to do that.” He now attributes his good financial sense to that early education. But not every college grad is in the same position. Many graduate with a pile of credit cards, tons of loans, and no clue about finances. “I have a 25 year old who sits in front of me a lot and says what are my options, bankruptcy or how do I do this?” Talking about the options is the first step in figuring out your finances. “The most important thing to do is to establish a great banking relationship. Find someone that you trust that you feel comfortable with, that can help you through that process.” Danielle Coombs, Regional Sales Manager at Maine Savings, says the most common mistake many college students make is not asking for help. Coombs says there are a few basics everyone should know. “From starting with balancing a checking account to obtaining credit and how you handle yourself in your apartments with your utilities, all of those things could impact you in the long run.” She says financial security begins with a budget. “It goes back to the basics of having a simple budget in place and knowing what your expenses are and what you have coming in. Part of your budget should be putting money into your savings account.” During college, many students find themselves diving into a sea of credit card debt. “We end up often going into debt because of peer pressure. And when you’re in college boy, there were credit card companies set up all around the common area and you could get a free nerf ball if you would sign up for this credit card.” But nothing in life is free. With that nerf ball comes a little plastic card, that has fees, interest, and a lot of responsibility. “Understanding that every time you do that, you’re impacting your credit and you’re impacting your future. So a lot of it just comes back to education.” “18 obviously isn’t too late. The earlier we can get kids to understand this the better.” But if your credit is already messy – how do you clean it up? “The thing about credit is that over time, credit will repair itself, if you are proactive about it and if you’re trying to diligently improve it.” Experts say it all goes back to admitting when you don’t know enough – and asking for help.