I currently had the pleasure to work with several college interns where I work, and during these hot days of summer they would bend my ear with questions about finance and what I can recommend to them. I of course started to churn out individual stock tips, but then I realized that these interns were barely 20 years old. After much thought I said to myself "What is the best advice that I can give to college graduates when they begin their working lives?" Well, future movers and shakers of the world, I am going to try to give some sound advice.
I would start by telling young workers that although their first job might not be what they consider a career, it is a job and they should treat it as though it is a career. What? Does that even make sense? Yes it does make sense and the reason is that this job may be the only employment you get during this tough job market, so one piece of advice is to think of it as a career and put your best efforts towards improving your relationship with your employer and fellow employees. Always remember that your bosses and co-workers may be your best tools to your next great career.
These days almost every company or corporation has some sort of retirement plan, such as a 401K or pension plan. So, another piece of advice I can give is to join these plans, even if you make only $100 a week. Sign up as soon as you are eligible, contribute and begin your path towards saving and investing. What if your first job is a small business that doesn't offer any retirement plan? In this case you must fund an IRA and set up an account yourself. I have some good links that can lead you to information and tools HERE. Always remember when you move to another employer you can rollover funds that are in these plans to a rollover IRA. In the beginning it will seem that your balance is small, but over time with consistent contributions the power of compounding will work aggressively for you.
We tend to spend our paychecks as soon as we get paid; well it is time to switch that thinking around by paying ourselves first. One of the best advices I was taught was to pay myself first. Another good suggestion that I can give is to have two accounts: A checking account for everyday bills and a savings account to use to pay yourself first.
I know that when I was in college, credit card solicitations were all around me. I of course did apply for a credit card, but I put a limit on how high the credit card company wanted to make my credit limit. To this day, I really only use one credit card and continue to make debt my enemy. My advice to you is to control your debt, believe me it can haunt you for many years. As a matter of fact if you can live the debt-free life you would certainly be ahead of many of your peers.
In conclusion, I hope that these several pieces of advice will motivate young college grads to strive to be financially fit. I also recommend many books to keep you focused on finances and life in general HERE and HERE and always encourage all workers young and old to read and learn!
Do you like the advice? Let me know-comments are always appreciated.