General

10 moves college grads need to make now to win with their money

BUDGET

I’ve said it (10,000) times before, and I will continue to say it until you actually do it: You HAVE to create a budget, especially right out of school.  Because you’re earning more than you ever have (but also spending more than you ever have, too—hello, student loan debt) it’s hard to gauge how far your money actually goes.  I thought my salary supported the spending habits I was exhibiting those first 2 months out of college but it didn’t, and because I didn’t have a budget, I had to find that out the hard way.

Fortunately, I hadn’t dug myself into credit card debt, but it can easily happen if you don’t have a good handle on your money situation. So sit down, look at what you earn each month, and decide how you’re going to allocate those earnings. This process is very powerful if you are dedicated to doing it each month, and it’s one of the ways I’ve been able to amass a fairly significant amount of wealth in the 8 years since I’ve graduated college.

[RELATED: Budgeting for Beginners: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Find More Money]

SAVE FOR AN EMERGENCY FUND

Word to the wise: If s#%! hits the fan, you do not want to be standing underneath it without an umbrella. Trust me.

Having an emergency fund ensures that you won’t have to incur debt (especially credit card debt – those rates are higher than that kid who just moved out to Colorado for “job opportunities”) when your car breaks down, you tear your ACL, or you find that your apartment is crawling with bedbugs and you need to break your lease FAST. You always think those situations won’t happen to you, but they can and they will. Having at least a $1,000 emergency fund (and eventually up to 3-6 months wages to cover you in case of a job loss) will allow you to sleep better knowing that those situations are covered.

And ladies & gents, peace of mind is a beautiful thing. Don’t underestimate it.

AUTOMATE, AUTOMATE, AUTOMATE

You know that emergency fund I was just speaking of that you’re going to set up right after reading this article? Well, the best way to build one is to go the lazy route and automate.

I love automating my savings because it’s something that a) I don’t have to think about and b) ensures I am automatically working towards my goals. When the money isn’t in my bank account, I don’t even think about spending it, which is why I always choose to pull my savings out right after my wages are directly deposited into my bank account.  Out of sight, out of mind, and in my back pocket.

Don’t only do this for your savings, but for your retirement, too. I automate my 401(k) savings through my employer, but if this isn’t offered to you, set up an account with an online brokerage and have them pull the money out of your account just like your savings account provider. Putting both of these – your normal savings and retirement savings – on autopilot is one of the best wealth-building moves you could make right out of school.  Don’t miss out on it.

[RELATED: The Step-by-Step Guide on How to Automate Your Savings]

Read also: The Importance Of Short-Term Savings –

DON’T BUY A NEW CAR

This literally is the most idiotic move right out of school. Why? Because cars are depreciable assets, meaning that they lose value over time rather than gaining it. This is SO important to understand because in your early 20s or even 30s, you have the power of time on your hand. Don’t believe me? I’ll prove you wrong.

Let’s say you could either a) finance a $20,000 new car or b) finance a used car for $8,000 and invest the difference in monthly payments in the stock market. With option A, you will have spent $22,500 over your 6 year loan and have a car worth maybe $10,000.  Your net worth impact at that point is -$12,500 . With option B, you’ll have spent $9,000 over the 6 year loan and have a car worth maybe $1,000, making the net worth impact -$8,000; however, we haven’t yet factored in the growth of that extra cash you put in the stock market. Over those 6 years, if you invested the difference in the monthly car payments of the $20,000 vehicle ($312) and the $8,000 ($125), you’d have an additional $16,150 to your name, meaning the total net worth impact is a positive $8,150. And that’s not counting the additional earnings you’ll receive in the next 20+ years on that investment.

See now why buying used is the better choice?

[RELATED: Why I Still Drive My Piece of Crap Car]

FIND YOUR SIDE HUSTLE

I know, I know, I know. You just found this killer job with an amazing salary, and now I’m asking you to do more? Why yes, yes I am.

I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but you have SO much time on your hands to start building some serious wealth.  And if you utilize that time now, your 30 and 40 year-old self will thank you. Tremendously.

Find your passion or something you like to do in your free-time and figure out how to make money doing it. Very few millionaires get to that status by solely relying on their 9-to-5, so the earlier you can identify and perfect this, the better.

AboutKara

I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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