(NewsUSA) – College graduates have a lot to think about — finding a job, finding a place to live and finding a way to manage their finances. Whether you have graduated with or without student loans or other debts, making a financial plan after graduation will pay off later. Build good financial habits now to make “adulting” more fun. Start with these time-tested tips:
• Set aside savings. Once you start earning, it’s time to start saving. Many financial planners recommend you save 20% of your income as a savings goal, but even 1% is a great place to start. Don’t let your inability to save 20% scare you off from getting in the savings groove. If you set up automatic savings systems, you can save without even thinking about it. Set up direct deposit so that part of your paycheck goes into a separate savings account, or send part of it directly to an employer 401(k).
• Spend smart. Think about a budget now so you can reap the benefits later. “Divide your take-home pay into three buckets: 65% to 70% for lifestyle spending and debt service; 10% to 15% for fun, vacation and gifting; and 20% for savings,” advises CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional Tom Morris. To help with budgeting, Morris recommends budget apps, such as Mint and You Need A Budget (YNAB).
• Boost your benefits. Your salary is only part of the financial picture when considering job offers. Be sure to review the employee benefits and take those into consideration. Top benefits include paid time off, health/life/dental/vision insurance and healthcare spending accounts, such as Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Reimbursement Arrangements. Other benefits that can save you money include relocation reimbursement, long-term or short-term disability insurance, tuition reimbursement, childcare benefits, gym memberships or discounts and wellness programs.
• Protect yourself. Many young adults think they are invincible, but in today’s uncertain world, it is essential to protect your ability to earn an income. Check out disability insurance, which can help keep you afloat if you have a major health crisis and can’t work. Some employers offer disability insurance, but you might consider getting more. Policies can be complicated, so do your homework or consult a CFP® professional to find the coverage that works for you.
• Decrease your debts. Most college graduates have some debt that requires consistent payment, whether it is a car loan, student loan or credit card bill. Monthly automatic payments are a great way to make sure you hit your scheduled payments on time to avoid late fees or other penalties.
Visit LetsMakeAPlan.org for more information about setting strong financial goals after graduation.