By Miriam Caldwell
Updated April 27, 2017
The habits that you start out doing are the ones that will follow you throughout your life. When you are starting your first job after college, you are in a great position to make some choices that can help you to be successful financially. A survival guide can help you stay on track when looking for your job. Landing a good job is only part of being able to build wealth and being successful. It is just as important to manage your money well and start saving in order to make it work for you. Even if you are not making a lot of money, these habits can set you down the path to building wealth and being successful.
1 Save for Retirement
The first thing you should do is save for retirement. If your company offers a matching contribution, then contribute up to that percentage in order to take full advantage of the match. If you are out of debt, you can work up to saving between ten and fifteen percent of your income for retirement. The earlier you start, the lower the percentage you need to contribute because your money will begin earning interest and increasing your retirement savings. You will eventually reach a point where the interest is greater than your annual contributions.
Although this may seem like an obvious step, it is one thing that many people struggle. Creating the habit of planning your spending and sticking to your budget will help you do more with the money that you earn. You can make a large amount of money and still end up in debt or with little to show for it or you may not make as much as you thought you would. Learning to budget is the key to building your wealth and taking control of your finances. If you do not know how to budget, find budgeting software and take classes about budgeting. The YNAB company offers a variety of free training classes you can take to help you get control of your budget. Your church or bank may also offer budgeting classes.
3 Set Goals and Create a Plan
It helps to have a clear cut plan when it comes to building wealth and as you go throughout your life. Take the time to set financial goals each year. A part of this process should be learning about the next step so that you are ready. Read books about finances, subscribe to magazines, and attend classes so that when it is time to take the next step in your plan you are ready.
4 Avoid Debt
Once you land your first job, stop using your credit cards. Limit the amount of debt that you take on from here on out. Other than buying a car or buying a home, you should try to pay cash for everything else that you need. If you currently have credit card debt, personal loans, or student loans work out a plan that will help you to pay off your debt more quickly. Your budget will help you to reach these goals. Take a minute to add up how much you owe in debt payments each month and then determine what you could do with the money if you were not in debt.
5 Give Back
Whether it is money or time, make it a priority to find a way to give back to your community or the world in general. There are so many people struggling throughout the world, and you have the opportunity to make a difference. If you establish the habit when you are young, it will be easier to continue to help as you get older and busier. The volunteer opportunities may be simple like volunteering for a day or two each year at your local food pantry or more extensive like doing volunteer tourism. No matter what you choose, be sure to research to make sure that the money or time that you donate is doing the good you want it to.