They're launched. They've finished college and are ready to set out into the world. We've brought them up to be independent, thoughtful individuals, of course. But they still may be babes in the woods when it comes to making the day-today financial decisions they face in their first few post-college years. Sometimes it helps to have words of advice come from a third party--as opposed to the doting parents themselves.
There's a book out there that covers some of the issues: Generation Earn: The Young Professional's Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back by Kimberly Palmer. Here are five paraphrased tips on what young adults should do as their paychecks start flowing in:
1. Build your credit history slowly and steadily by opening up accounts in your own name and paying them off on time.
2. Instead of using the first paycheck to make upgrade the lifestyle--new 60-inch TV, new sofa--spread out purchases over time and start with necessities, like a bed.
3. Start saving at least one-quarterof income for future goals, including retirement. The first priority is to establish an emergency savings accoung with at least three months' worth of expenses . If the employer offers any type of 401k matching program, take advantage of it—passing it up is like saying no to a pay increase. Then open an after-tax savings account for other goals, from traveling to homeownership.
4. Even in this economy, employers expect some haggling over salary and benefits. A simple request after expressing enthusiasm and appreciation for the job offer can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars more in lifetime earnings or better benefits.
5. There's no avoiding the fact that being an adult comes with some secretarial duties. Suddenly, there are pay stubs, health insurance forms, tax documents, and credit card statements to keep organized. Take advantage of modern technology by going paperless whenever possible. Online accounts are easier to manage; websites such as shoeboxed.com keep receipts organized online, which is especially helpful at tax time. Mint.com makes it easy to track spending and establish a budget.