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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Young Adults -- Lazy about Money? I don't think so!

Oh, the good old days! When I went away to college my freshman year, my financial life was relatively simple. All I really needed to know how to do was write a check and manage my money for entertainment. Food and housing costs were set and paid for in a lump-sum because I lived in a dorm.

Finances for young people are more complicated now. With two sons leaving for college in a few weeks, I'm impressed with the financial skills they need. Check writing is a dying art, although they still need to know how to write a check. But they also need to know how to use and keep track of ATM withdrawals, use a debit card, and manage a credit card. Looking to the future, their checking and savings accounts are through an online bank. How do you do deposits for an online bank? By fax, of course!

When they arrive on campus, my sons will have more opportunities to mess up their finances then I did. First, the basics – eating. Rather than having a set meal plan, today's students often find that they need to budget their food spending even if they live in a dorm. No more eating all you want for one price!

Across college campuses, credit card offers abound. Young people can easily get credit cards without parents co-signing for cards. I decided to take the initiative this summer and helped my sons choose a credit card with a low-interest rate and no annual fee so that hopefully they won't be tempted by other credit card offers.

So, do I agree with a recent MSN Money article, "Why Generation Y is broke: 20- and 30-somethings are in a financial mess. Is it because we're dumb, arrogant or simply uneducated?"?While several interesting viewpoints are expressed, I think that young people today are struggling because there's more they need to know at an earlier age!

If you're interested in ways to help young people manage their finances as they move away from home, read "Helping Young Adults Budget Money".

Young people starting new jobs also are often challenged by making wise job benefit choices. Unlike "the good old days" retirement plans today usually require people to make investment choices and decisions. To learn more about different kinds of job-related retirement plans, visit University of Illinois Extension's free website, Plan Well, Retire Well.

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