Creating a Strong Financial Footing After Graduating
Updated: Jun 3, 2019
You’ve recently graduated and now you have your first job. How do you start building wealth?
While you were in school you probably had a pretty tight grip on your finances. Now that you have a regular paycheck coming in you might think you can finally loosen the purse strings and spend at will. Unfortunately, if you want to establish a financial future for yourself, you’re going to have to keep those strings tighter than you probably want to.
Disposable income shouldn’t be completely disposed of
Knowing there’s money coming in on a regular basis, it might seem like you have all kinds of disposable income. Although you might, you certainly shouldn’t think of it that way. If you spend all your money you will never get off the mouse wheel of always chasing more. You won’t have anything for emergencies. You won’t have anything for future plans or travel, or more expensive things you will want to buy at some point.
Case in point, I have two kids. As soon as money comes into my son Matt’s bank account, it goes back out. He wants to travel, he wants to one day buy a car, but he never has any money to spare. He is also dealing with school debt. My daughter Jennifer on the other hand has always been a saver. At 24 years old she’s put $28,000 away and has no debt. Part of that has always come down to actually saving a significant portion of what she earns.
Save 15% of your earnings
Jennifer is just out of school, so she’s not earning that much yet, but she makes a point of saving 15%. Over the past couple of years, Jen has been to Iceland, England, Costa Rica. Having money in the bank has been her priority.
Save up for what you want
Now that you’re working, you probably have a credit card or two. As tempting as it is to go hog wild and buy whatever you want, interest payments are a burden you certainly do not want to end up carrying. Only spend what you can pay back each month. Instead of going for instant gratification and buying what you want when you want it, save up and buy what you want when you can actually pay for it in full.
Have a plan
Talk to adults who might be willing to mentor you, and if you're in school debt, do some research on how to pay it off as efficiently as possible. Figure out how you are going to invest that 15% you are putting away each month. Think of your future. How much do you want to have saved in five years? In ten years? When do you want to retire? Retirement seems so far away when you are starting out. You don’t have to dwell on it, just give yourself a long term goal so you have something concrete in mind. In the meantime, set a five-year goal. Make a plan to achieve it.
Going forward, avoid the pitfalls of debt, save money with every paycheck, plan for the years ahead and you will stride confidently into the future!