Getting Started

Laying the right foundation as you start your career is the key to future financial success, and at this life-stage, TIME is your greatest asset.  Consider that each dollar you save in your 20s can be worth ten times as much as one saved in your 40s.  Through the magical power of compounding, the beginning of your working life is the prime time to start saving towards retirement—even though many people don’t want to think about, or worse yet, act on this principle.

Here are some steps to take now to put your financial future on track.

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Financial advice for young adults entering the work force

1. Identify your short, medium and long-term goals and budget your money accordingly

Your short term goals of less than five years might encompass a wedding, honeymoon, furniture or a new car.  Medium term goals could include the purchase of a home and financing your future children’s college education, followed by long-term retirement goals.  These goals will help you determine how to spend and save your money.  A helpful tool for identifying where your money goes and learning how to budget for both the needed and wanted items is Blackhawk Bank’s Budget Workbook.

2. Find Money to Save

While it may seem difficult sometimes just to make ends meet, chances are you have extra money you didn’t even know about. Here are some ways to find it:

  • Keep track of everything you spend for a week. You might be surprised by what you’re buying, and what you can do without.
  • Make purchases with cash. This can help you stick to a budget and avoid impulse purchases. Decide ahead of time how much you can spend and set aside that amount in cash before you go shopping.
  • Lower your credit card bills. Many credit card companies will give borrowers a lower interest rate if they’re asked.  Also, conserving electricity and gas can make a big difference.
  • Rank nonessential expenses. Keep the ones you like the best and cut the items on the bottom of the list.
  • Pack a lunch and cook more dinners at home. Eating out at restaurants can eat up a lot of money that could be saved.

Pay Yourself First
You're probably inclined to pay everyone else first –your landlord and the electric company, for instance.  But it’s vital to start paying yourself first by saving money. Once you’ve made a contribution to your financial well-being, then you can divide up your money to cover everything else. Don’t worry. You'll more than likely have enough left over to cover everything you need.

In fact, Blackhawk Bank can make this easier. You can have us automatically transfer funds from your checking account to your savings or money market account.  You might also check with your employer. Companies will often direct deposit into your savings account from your paychecks if asked.

3. Build assets through saving at least 10 percent of your income

It may be wise to invest in CDs or money market accounts for your short term goals and the stock market for your longer term goals.  Historically, the stock market has outperformed other types of investments over comparable time periods, but it’s not for the faint hearted, as your balances and both rise and fall and are not insured by the FDIC.  You may also want to join a 401(k) plan if one is available from your employer, or open an IRA account.  We’re here to guide you to the best products for your circumstances, so don’t hesitate to call or come in.

Blackhawk Bank can help compound your savings with a safe, fully FDIC insured savings/investment account that’s right for you.

4. Establish an emergency fund

A good guideline is to save three to six months worth of living expenses to cover rent or house payments, utilities, car payments, food, transportation and insurance into a separate bank account that could be easily accessed in the case of job loss or uncovered medical expenses.  Don’t use the money for anything else.

Conserve time, money and paper with one of  Blackhawk Bank’s convenient checking accounts, Online Banking and Bill Payment Services. You’ll reduce the time it takes to pay your bills and save on the expense of printed checks / postage while also helping the environment.

Easy Money Checking is far and away the most popular checking account among clients with its high interest earnings and refunded ATM fees.  You can literally use any ATM, anywhere in the world and get refunds on any fees you incur by meeting two easy requirements per qualification cycle.  Learn more…


5. Borrow wisely

Avoid high-interest credit cards and pay off your credit card monthly. Work with Blackhawk Bank for your major lending needs including personal and vehicle loans, home mortgages and home equity loans or lines of credit.  

Home Mortgage Loans
If you’re house hunting, make Blackhawk Bank your first stop. Talk to a Mortgage Planner for advice and get pre-qualified for your mortgage loan. Pre-qualification allows you to shop with confidence, and gives you and your Realtor added bargaining power.  Take advantage of rates that are at historical lows, as well as many federal and state programs and grants.  And, we promise exceptional customer service.  Unlike many banks, we service most mortgage loans locally after closing - a huge added benefit to you.

Consumer Installment loans – When you need money for a car, truck, home improvement, etc., visit us first.   We’ve helped people live well and get ahead for more than a century.  At Blackhawk, trustworthy, helpful bankers can guide you to the best interest rates and loan terms that make borrowing money easy and manageable.  Apply today, get an answer right away! 

6. Understand your credit report

Your financial behavior over the past seven years, including how much credit you have, how long you've had it and whether you pay your bills on time is information included in your credit report. Three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian maintain these reports.  Your credit report also carries your credit score (ranked between 300 and 850) that lenders use to decide whether you're credit worthy and will repay a loan.  Your credit score can also influence the interest rate you pay.  In many cases, the higher your score, the lower your interest rate.  Your credit score is available from the three credit reporting agencies:

Equifax –
TransUnion –
Experian –

Once per year, Blackhawk Bank will provide you with a FREE TransUnion Credit Report and Score, and counseling to help you fully understand it.  For Mortgage Loan Applications, banks must pull reports from all three credit bureaus, and a fee applies.

Should you need to build or repair your credit history, Blackhawk’s Goal Setter Account can work for you two ways: to help build your credit history if you’re just starting out, or to repair a not-so-good credit score.  Learn more - read  / download: Developing Great Credit and Goal Setter

Tips for Effective Financial Management

  • Pay off your credit card debt.  It is senseless to pay 13 – 20 percent interest on credit card payments while your savings accounts earn far less.
  • If you cannot pay off your credit card debt, pay more than the minimum payment each month which in some cases will only cover the interest charges.
  • Don’t worry too much about paying off student loans early.  These normally have a much lower interest rate than credit cards.  By making low payments on student loans, you’ll have more money to reduce high-interest credit card debt.

Mortgage Calculator | Retirement Calculator

For help determining the best accounts and products for sound and productive money management during your Getting Started Life Stage, please call a Personal Banker at 800.209.2616, or stop by any office.

Raymond James Financial Advisors may only conduct business with residents of the state and/or jurisdictions for which they are properly registered. Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed. Please note that not all of the investments and services mentioned are available in every state. Investors outside of the United States are subject to securities and tax regulations within their applicable jurisdictions that are not addressed on this site.  Contact your local Raymond James office for information and availability. 

Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA / SIPC, and are not insured by bank insurance, the FDIC or any other government agency, are not deposits or obligations of the bank, are not guaranteed by the bank, and are subject to risks, including the possible loss of principal.  Blackhawk Investment Group and Blackhawk Bank are independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Raymond James Privacy Notice | Blackhawk Invest Group | 400 Broad Street, Beloit, WI, 53511