- It's important to make smart financial decisions as soon as you start earning a steady paycheck.
- Set up your budget and the accounts you need, and make sure you know all the details of the compensation and benefits your company is offering.
As you learn the ropes, check these financial must-dos off your list.
If you graduated college this spring, you may be gearing up to explore adulthood one workday at a time. Starting your first job can be exciting and intimidating at once. But as soon as you learn the ins and outs of your company and understand what your boss expects, you'll likely settle into a groove and grow increasingly good at whatever you do.
But while you're spending your days getting up to speed, carve out a little time to tackle some key financial matters. Here are a few moves it pays to make when you're starting your first job.
1. Find the right checking account
No matter what your starter paychecks look like, it's important to find a good home for them. So take a little time to look at checking accounts and see which one works best for you.
You generally want to avoid checking accounts that impose a lot of fees or minimum balances you don't think you can meet. And it pays to focus on accounts loaded with convenient features like automatic transfers, which allow you to seamlessly move money from your checking account to a linked savings account every pay period.
2. Sign up for your employer's retirement plan
If your employer offers a 401(k) plan and a company match to go with it, sign up -- when you contribute some of your own money to that retirement account, that match means you get free money from your employer.
If you don't have a 401(k) through your job, you can open an IRA instead if you're ready to start saving for retirement. And to be clear, that's a smart thing, because the more time you give your money to grow, the more wealth you might accumulate.
3. Get on a budget
If you're earning good money for the first time, it can be tempting to spend a large chunk of it on fun things. But before you blow your first few paychecks, do yourself a favor -- set up a budget that maps out your costs. That way, you see what your non-negotiable bills look like, and how much you can afford to spend on things like concert tickets, trips, and other fun things.
4. Learn about all the benefits you're eligible for
Different companies offer different benefit packages, and it's important to know what yours looks like in detail. You may be entitled to free financial counseling, which can be a smart perk to take advantage of. Or you may be eligible for fitness equipment or gym membership reimbursement, which could free up room in your budget for other expenses.
Starting a new job can be overwhelming -- in a good way and in a bad way. Hopefully, your transition into the labor force will go off without a hitch. And if you tackle these essential moves, you'll set yourself up for financial success from the start.
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