Money management is a part of every adult’s life, so it’s important to form good spending habits while you’re young. Life immediately after graduation is the first time many people experience financial independence, and it can be both liberating and scary. But you can successfully navigate the world of personal finance if you’re smart with your money. Here are three pieces of advice that can help you manage your money the right way.
1. Invest Your Money Wisely
Start investing early and you’ll be grateful you did so in the future. The earlier you start investing, the more time your investments have to accrue interest and grow. Even though the fact that you’ll retire someday can be hard to fathom at your young age, it is nevertheless a reality you’ll have to start preparing for.
If you have a job that offers a 401(k), you should deposit a little bit of each paycheck into it — especially if your employer matches contributions, as this is essentially free money. You might also consider other retirement account options, such as a Roth IRA.
If you’re able to save some extra income each month, you should look into building your investment portfolio. Put together a broker dealer network that can assist you in your investments.
A broker-dealer is an individual or company that specializes in trading securities. Acting as a broker, they buy and sell securities (like stocks) on your behalf. A good brokerage can help you make smart investments that generate high returns.
2. Start Building Credit
Your credit score is used to determine a number of important things. Landlords check your credit before renting you a home. Banks use your credit score to determine the types of loans you’re eligible for. Even potential employers will run a credit check before offering you a job in some cases.
So, as you can see, credit is very important and a good credit score opens all kinds of doors for you. The easiest way to start building credit is by opening a credit card. You can use this credit card to purchase small things that you know you’ll be able to pay off when the bill comes at the end of the month.
By consistently making payments on time, you’ll build up your credit score. Plus, many credit cards offer benefits that you can take advantage of, like cash back, airline miles, and more.
However, at the same time you should be cautious in using your credit card. Don’t spend more than you can afford and put yourself into debt. If you’re late on a payment, you’ll likely have to pay an interest fee and your credit score will take a hit. So be smart and live within your means.
3. Come Up With a Budget
A sensible budget is the foundation of any long-term financial plan. When you create a budget for yourself, you give each dollar meaning. You know exactly how much money’s coming in and how it’s all being spent.
Adhering to a solid budget can improve your life in a variety of ways. By taking all of your expenses for the month into account, you can avoid overspending that results in a cash shortage at the end of each month or, even worse, forces you to take on debt.
Creating a budget can also help you in reaching your long-term goals. Whether you hope to take a vacation in France or save up enough money to buy a car, a budget will put you on the right financial path toward achieving any goal that’s important to you.
If you’ve never created a real budget before, you may be wondering what, exactly, it looks like. Well, there are dozens of ways to go about designing one. However, you might consider following the simple “50/30/20” rule to start. This means you spend 50% of your monthly take-home income on necessities like housing and food and 30% on luxuries like movie tickets and vacations, while saving the remaining 20%.
Just keep in mind that your budget isn’t set in stone. Evaluate how it’s working for you on a monthly basis and, if you feel like you need to make some adjustments, then go for it.
These tips on Money Management after Graduation can help you build the basic financial foundation on which you can grow for years to come. But, when it comes to money, common sense is just as important. Buy what you can afford and try to always keep your long-term financial goals in mind.