It’s important to think about this stuff as early as possible because finances can be a major source of stress further down the road. In some cases, those who haven’t carefully planned find themselves depressed (or worse). Having a plan in place will reduce your stress level and allow you to stay motivated, so take time to sit down and think about what your goals are. Financial planning may not be fun, but it’s a necessary part of life. Talk to people who have lived through it–your parents, grandparents, or an older friend–and get some advice on where to begin.
After that, use these 6 tips to start planning for the future
1. Explore your options
Now is the time to figure out what you really want when it comes to a job, a house, and a stable future. Do you want to do some traveling? Start saving for retirement? It’s all possible, but now is the time to strike. Look at your career options and don’t be afraid to take some risks.
“Your 20s really are the time to explore. Before you get married and before you have kids, you don’t have a lot of financial responsibilities,” says author Jean Chatzky.
2. Consider living rent-free
If it’s an option, consider living with your parents or other family members just after graduation. This is a short-term situation that could help you save money for a car or your first place. Just remember to stay motivated where money saving is concerned, otherwise you’ll get a little too comfortable and it will be harder for you to get out on your own.
3. Watch your credit
Your credit score might not mean much now, but when you’re ready to buy a house or a car, it will be a very important part of your life. If you have student loans, start paying them off as soon as possible and add a little extra to your monthly payment to get ahead. Credit cards should be used for big purchases or emergencies only to avoid running up debt. Taking care of your credit now means you’ll have much more stability in the future.
4. Make saving automatic
Saving money is much easier if you don’t even have to think about it, so consider investing in a 401(k) plan that your employer takes out of your paycheck. This means you’ll have a plan for retirement that requires no effort on your part, and since it’s taken right out of your check you won’t even miss it.
5. Have a backup plan
Even if you’ve already secured your dream job, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan just in case. Keep your resume updated and make connections with other people in your field so you can always have an ear to the ground. Even the best jobs can come with nasty surprises, or you may find that you just don’t enjoy it as much as you thought you would.
6. Earn extra money
Whether you already have a day job or are trying to score one, it may be necessary to earn a little extra money now and then, so consider putting your skills to use as a tutor, a babysitter, or a dog walker. You can start your own business making jewelry, or maintain a blog that earns money through ads.
Saving and planning for the future doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience; start with a plan and talk to some people who have been through it already to gain some insight. After that, it’s just a matter of staying focused.
Gloria runs WomenLed.org, which celebrates women’s achievements in the workplace and beyond. She believes that while women have made many advancements toward “shattering the glass ceiling,” there is still much to be done. It is her aim to help increase the number of women-led businesses by educating others about the topic.
All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.