Many challenges can present themselves while transitioning from college student to corporate crusader. Balancing responsibilities and making smart, informed decisions regarding finances are all keys in becoming successful in your new life.
Health Insurance: If your company does not provide it, GET SOME! Accidents, injuries or illness could leave you with a car payment or mortgage type bill to a hospital for life.
Visit ehealthinsurance.com or if you are a Massachusetts resident, mahealthconnector.org to find affordable health insurance.
Debt and Credit: Your credit affects everything from getting jobs, being approved to rent apartments, amount of security deposits, car and other loan percentages to bank overdraft fees. If you do not have a good credit history, now is the time to rebuild.
Visit oprah.com and click on Money, Debt and Oprah's Debt Diet to learn from experts in the field about reducing your debt, improving your FICO score and saving for the future.
Track your money online: See where your money goes and make a plan! Websites like mint.com and geezeo.com are free and allow you to combine all of your accounts so finances are all in one place and can be checked from your cell phone. There are also tools that help you to budget, save and compare your finances to other budgeters. If you have shared expenses with roommates or friends who never pay their way, free sites like billmonk.com and buxfer.com will help you keep track.
Invest: Open a Roth IRA, a great savings vehicle for young people in a lower tax bracket. Look into mutual funds at mfea.com and see how you can invest as little as $50 per month. If your company has a 401K, contribute at least as much as the employer will match.
Live Small: Keep your older car to avoid a car payment or buy used. Make your own coffee, or if necessary buy coffee instead of the more expensive frothed or flavor shot versions. Bring your lunch to work and make dinner instead of going out. Join a running group, use the facilities in your apartment or find other alternatives to expensive monthly gym memberships. Use this as a time to learn good spending habits, save money where you can and pay off debt, not accrue a hole for your future.
Adapted from "When You Finally Go It Alone", Linda Stern, Newsweek, Oct. 29, 2007