The party's over, you've graduated, and it's time to get ready for your financial future. Don't wait. Start growing your financial future now. You'll be glad you did. Here are some steps every graduate should take the first year out of college.
Establish credit. A great credit score doesn't just happen. You have to build it. Get in the habit of paying your bills on time every time and spending below your credit limit. When the time comes to finance a car or a house, your credit score can help you get a lower interest rate and save money.
Live with a little less luxury. Your parents worked hard to finance their home, buy their cars, and pay for some of life's luxuries. You're not there yet. Spend a little less on going out to dinner, fancy coffee, and expensive movies. Cut the cable cord and find other ways to save some cash. Luxury can come later.
Create a budget. And stick to it. Determine how far your paycheck can go and find ways to put a little aside for emergencies. The more you earn, the more you can add to your savings. Every time you get a raise or earn a little extra cash, add some to your emergency fund.
Take advantage of employee benefits. If your company has a retirement plan, take advantage of the tax-free savings option. At the very minimum put in the amount your employer will match. The employee match is part of your benefits and it's a big one. If you can, contribute 10 percent each pay period. This money adds up quickly. And if your insurance program has a health savings account, add to that too. This money builds up as savings but also, is there for you if you have unforeseen medical expenses.
Set up a ROTH IRA or another savings plan. If your company does not have a retirement plan, check into a ROTH IRA. You can contribute up to $5,000 a year, and it can serve as a great savings account, as well. Talk to a financial planner about your options.
Pay your student loans on time. Student loans will come due six months after you graduate. Check out payment programs to see if there are any that can help you pay your loans off efficiently and effectively. Like other bills, do not miss a student loan payment.
Find a side gig. Need more money, want to pay off bills faster, or want to save more money faster? A job waiting on tables, bartending, working at a carwash on weekends, or walking dogs can help. Don't let your new 9-5 job limit your financial aspirations.
Get a roommate or two. Life's expensive. Share living expenses with a roommate or two. Even if you can afford to pay the rent on your own, having a person to share costs with will help you to save for your future. Take the money you are saving in rent and put all or some of it into your savings account.
These are just a few ways to put yourself on the path to financial success after college. Have a goal in mind for what your future looks like. Do you want a house? A new car? To pay off your debts faster? To build your savings? Keep this in mind and you'll be well on your way to reaching your success. Journey on, graduate!
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