Three Personal Finance Pointers for Young Earners

Life happens fast. In the blink of an eye, you can go from high school and college to working in the “real world.”

As a young, working professional, you likely earn more than you did during your school years, but first and second job salaries often won’t have you rolling in the dough. Plus, you may have debt and bills to pay.

While this new chapter of your life can be daunting, it also can be a good opportunity to start investing in your financial wellness. In other words, if you learn to manage your day-to-day living expenses and make some sound financial decisions now, you're likely to set yourself up for a brighter future.

With that in mind, here are three personal finance pointers that may help you in your early years as a working professional.

1. Budget your Paycheck

In your first few years of getting a regular paycheck, you may be tempted to think about all the things you want to buy. However, most financial experts agree that you should think about what you need first. Your early career money may not go as far as you think.

It’s wise to make a budget so you can balance your spending wants and needs. Take a look at your new monthly household income. How much money do you have left after you pay your monthly expenses such as rent, food and monthly bills? If you are spending most of your take-home pay, look for areas where you can reduce spending.

2. Take Advantage of Employer Offerings

These days, many companies offer benefits to help employees save money for many different aspects of their lives—from health to wealth. However, these benefits can be hidden away in employee manuals or on corporate websites.

While many employers offer some type of retirement plan, one main benefit of such plans is sometimes overlooked by new employees—free money. If your employer offers any matching funds for your 401(k)1 or another type of retirement plan, this is free money for you.

3. Pay Down Your Debt

Putting your money to work in investments can be challenging while you’re also paying down debt. Many financial experts would recommend paying down debt before investing in an employee retirement plan, especially if you are paying an interest rate in the double digits.

That said, deciding whether to pay off debt, especially student loans, before investing requires some number crunching. If you have a low-interest student loan, you could be better off investing than sending more cash to your student loan holder.

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