Friday, April 8, 2011

Financial Tips For New Grads

Your financial health has never been more important


If only I had known then what I know now... This is a familiar refrain to most of us, and is indicative of the fact that we usually make some mistakes in matters that we don't as yet  fully comprehend. And when we finally do, we look back with regret on the mistakes that we realize that we've made. Well I'm going to step in now and see if I can help to keep you from repeating the same financial mistakes that I made when I was a new grad. Some of these mistakes proved to be very costly to me, while others just made me feel dumb for not realizing that I could have chosen a much better or easier way of doing something. Here are the ones that stand out for me, and I hope that by sharing them here you won't have to make the same ones I did in order to come to a better understanding of them.

If your employer offers a 401k matching program, take advantage of it. 

Some employers have an incentive program to make saving for retirement an even better idea. They will match a certain percentage of the amount you have taken out of each paycheck for your 401k plan. In my own situation, my employer at the time matched 50% of my 401k contributions up to 6% of each paycheck. This was essentially guaranteeing me a 50% return on my investment, which I later realized is a fantastic deal. I was very foolish for not being on board with it. If you have access to a plan like this, make sure that you take advantage of it.

Buy a used car instead of buying or leasing a new one. 

The steepest depreciation takes place in the first few years of ownership, and driving a new car off the dealership lot is the most expensive trip you will make. Don't weigh yourself down with a big monthly payment. There will be plenty of time to buy a new car later on when you decide that you can really afford it. Resist the temptation to get a new car, and instead find a 3 to 5 year old car with a good reliability record and have it checked out by a mechanic before you buy it. There are lots of online resources to help you decide what cars to buy and how much they are actually worth on the used market. I could have saved myself a lot of money, stress and worry if I would have done this myself.

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