Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • May 2018
Written by 

College graduates: Six financial survival tips for the working world

Despite a turbulent job market and economy, if you are a recent college graduate, there is much to be optimistic about as you leave campus and head out into the real world. No one ever said life on your own would be easy, but achieving post-graduate financial bliss can be a reality. These six tips offer a starting point for recent graduates who are ready to put their education to work for a secure financial future.

Get real about your paycheck

Compared to the minimum wage jobs you survived on through college, the annual earnings at your first post-graduate job may give you dollar-sign eyes. Don’t be fooled, though; after taxes, benefits, living expenses and student loan payments, your remaining monthly spending money could amount to less than half of your gross income. Being realistic about your paycheck doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun, but learning to be smart when it comes to budgeting will allow you to enjoy the finer things in life with a clearer conscience.

Your credit score matters

Thought you were done worrying about test scores? Think again. Whether you want to get an apartment, mortgage, car or a new job, your credit score says a lot about you and can make or break these important financial steps. Credit reports are available on many sites on the internet and can be free or retrieved for a small fee. Examine your report regularly for accuracy and pay off any existing credit card debt as soon as possible. Credit card interest is wasted money and any outstanding debt can hurt your credit score.

Look out for number one

After expenses and taxes, your paycheck may look too slim for comfort, but protecting your assets, health and income is worth the additional cost. If you have an apartment, renter’s insurance is a relatively inexpensive way to protect your possessions. Health insurance is also a must, whether you get it through your employer or stay on your parents’ plan. Your paycheck is worth protecting, too. Disability income insurance is not just for those with physically demanding jobs, as most claims are from illness, not injury. Preparing for the unexpected comes at a small price when considering the costs of not doing so.

Save for the fun stuff

Again, being responsible with your finances doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. You have worked hard to start your career and should reward yourself. The best way to spend smartly is simply to spend less than you have. Diligent saving allows for the occasional splurge without having to feel guilty or anxious about your decision to spend. Consider directly depositing a certain amount from your paycheck into a savings account for a “fun fund.”

Save for the grown-up stuff, too

Your parents’ nagging may start to quiet now that you’ve graduated, but their retirement planning advice is worth listening to. Start investing now — you won’t regret it. While you are just starting your career and retirement seems a long way off, successful investors know the longer your assets remain invested, the greater their potential for growth. The cash you forfeit now will pale in comparison to the amount you’ll end up getting back at the end of your career if you start as early as possible.

Don’t pass up free money

Many employers offer pretax savings through their retirement accounts. Because your retirement contributions come out before taxes, your taxable income is decreased, saving you money. For example, a $100 contribution from your earnings to a pretax retirement account would reduce your paycheck by only $75 if you’re in the 25 percent tax bracket. If your employer matches a percentage of your retirement contributions, it is wise to contribute the maximum amount of their match so you’re not passing up “free money.”

Money is one aspect of adulthood that college graduates should tackle head-on in order to start living independently. Personal finance may seem daunting, but don’t be discouraged. All of the tips mentioned above boil down to common sense: spend less than you earn, stay protected through proper insurance, maintain good credit and save for the short and long-term. If you follow those steps, you will be off to a great financial start in the next chapter of your life.

Stacie Patchett

To contact Stacie Patchett, call 920-628-3700 or email her at [email protected].

This column was prepared by Thrivent Financial with an article from Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions Inc. ©2012 for local distribution by Thrivent Financial Representative Stacie Patchett. She has her office at 4321 N Ballard Rd in Appleton and can also be reached at 920-628-3700.

About Thrivent Financial 

Thrivent Financial is a financial services organization that helps Christians be wise with money and live generously. As a membership organization, it offers its more than 2 million member-owners a broad range of products, services and guidance from financial representatives nationwide. For more than a century it has helped members make wise money choices that reflect their values while providing them opportunities to demonstrate their generosity where they live, work and worship. For more information, visit Thrivent.com. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Insurance products issued or offered by Thrivent Financial, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI. Not all products are available in all states. Securities and investment advisory services are offered through Thrivent Investment Management Inc., 625 Fourth Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55415, a FINRA and SIPC member and a wholly owned subsidiary of Thrivent. Thrivent Financial representatives are registered representatives of Thrivent Investment Management Inc. They are also licensed insurance agents/producers of Thrivent. For additional important information, visit Thrivent.com/disclosures.

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and its respective associates and employees cannot provide legal, accounting, or tax advice or services. Work with your Thrivent Financial representative, and as appropriate your attorney and/or tax professional for additional information.

Website: Thrivent.com
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