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5 Ways to Get off to a Good Financial Start after Graduation

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By Donna Gehrke-White

You just graduated from high school or college and are starting a new job. You want to get off to a good start? Here are some tips to spend and save prudently so you can build early a nest egg that will assure you a comfortable, according to Bob Stammers, director of investor education at the nonprofit CFA Institute.

• Live within your means. Build your discipline in avoiding large purchases when you are starting out and not getting into debt early — that may take you years to pay off. Plenty of hip people shop at thrift shops and discount stores.

• Set aside money for an emergency fund. There will always be something that comes up. Having money to pay for emergencies saves you from having to go into credit card debt. These days, most financial advisers recommend saving enough to cover six months of living expenses.

• Pay off student loans. With interest rates lower than ever, new graduates should use this to their advantage and consider paying off loans as quickly as possible. Once you’ve paid it off, you will have extra money to budget for other things.

• Consider delaying enrollment in a 401(k) retirement plan — or at least just put in the minimum to get the company’s contribution. The reality is a lot of young professionals in their 20s have more pressing issues than retirement, and building an emergency fund is the most important. Stammers cautions that young people won’t be able to take any money out until they borrow or face steep penalties — 10 percent of the withdrawn money plus taxes on it.

—Save a raise instead of splurging on a vacation or an expensive purchase. It will help you build your assets.

©2012 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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