College grads nationwide are celebrating an end to all-night study sessions, term papers and pop quizzes, and they are looking forward to starting their professional careers in one of the best economic backdrops in the past 20 years. But before the class of 2017 even earns that first paycheck, there are a number of things every college grad should do to establish a firm financial footing right out of the gate, according to CNBC personal finance contributor Carla Fried.
=Here’s a list of nine financial moves every college graduate should make immediately.
1. Make Student Loan Payments.
Most students are allowed a six-month grace period after they graduate before their first payment is due. However, if you miss that first payment date, you could ruin your credit right off the bat.
2. Plan A Budget.
Especially for students who will be financially self-reliant for the first time, knowing exactly where your money is (and isn’t) going will help you get and maintain a grip on your spending habits.
3. Automate Everything.
The more bill payments, retirement savings, tax payments and investments you can automate, the less likely you are to screw something up and/or fall behind on your financial plan.
4. Build A Safety Net.
Fried recommends $1,000 in emergency savings. Regardless of the number, putting aside a certain amount of cash to use whenever those unexpected auto, medical or home repair expenses come up is a critical part of being financially prepared for whatever life throws at you.
Related Link: What To Do When Life Throws You A Financial Curveball
5. Don’t Immediately Splurge On A Car.
Expensive new cars are one of the worst investments out there. They depreciate in value precipitously and offer limited benefits over cheaper economy cars or even used vehicles. Save the new corvette for when you have a few years of savings under your belt.
6. Don’t Waste Your Growing Earnings Power.
Straight out of college, you will likely be earning the least amount of money of your career. However, as you work your way up the pay ladder, commit your extra earnings to a long-term goal, such as paying off debt or buying a house. Just because you’re earning more doesn’t mean you need to be spending more.
7. Save For Retirement.
The earlier you start saving for retirement, the easier the process will be. Maximize any company 401(k) matching because that is essentially free money. Fried suggests aiming to set aside 10 percent of your annual income for retirement.
8. Get A Credit Card.
Yes, credit card debt is possibly the worst kind of debt in terms of interest rates. However, credit card debt is also an important part of building a healthy credit score. In addition, credit card users that pay off their debt at the end of each month can enjoy cash rewards or other benefits.
9. Consider Disability And Other Insurance.
Insurance can provide peace of mind when it comes to protecting against large unexpected healthcare, auto, home or other expenses. You can even get disability coverage to safeguard against any accidents that could prevent you from working.
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