Big Sky Connection  Young Montanans who have graduated from high school will now have to learn to manage their own finances. For those who are newly independent, a few tips can help them budget their money smartly. Comments from Ally Haegele (HAG-lee), programs manager, Montana's Credit Unions for Community Development; and Jordyn Rogers, deputy director, Rural Dynamics.

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Apps can help people understand how certain purchases will affect their overall budget. (Andrey Popov/Adobe Stock)

Eric Tegethoff

Many recent Montana high school graduates are setting off on their own, meaning it's likely their first time being financially independent. A few tips could help them better manage their money.

Ally Haegele is the programs manager with Montana's Credit Unions for Community Development. She said first, young adults should understand their long-term financial goals.

Haegele said keeping the big picture in mind is an important way to draft a budget, but she also noted that people should give themselves grace.

"Not structuring a budget that it's so strict trying to achieve those big picture goals that you never go out to eat," said Haegele, "or you never let yourself get a coffee or whatever kind of indulgence you might allow yourself - especially as a young adult. Because then, they're just kind of setting themselves up to fail with the budget or be frustrated."

Haegele said people can download free budgeting apps to help guide them with their finances.

Jordyn Rogers is deputy director of the Great-Falls-based financial nonprofit Rural Dynamics. She said young people going on to higher education might have some additional considerations when it comes to saving money.

For instance, Rogers said, there are ways to save on textbooks.

"Consider renting textbooks for a fraction of the cost," said Haegele, "and you can even do that with e-books over a period of time that you have access to it."

For all young adults, Rogers said it's important to become creditworthy since credit plays such a big role in people's finances later in life.

She said the easiest way to do this is through a credit card - keeping in mind that you have to be responsible and know your own habits.

"Buying a gas card that can report positively to the credit bureaus, because you pay it off every month," said Haegele, "is a great way to build your credit utilization and also pay for a cost that you know is going to be there."