When I was a senior in college beginning my first professional job search, I visited an older friend in New York City. Compared to my dorm room living and campus attire, her life in a nicely furnished apartment (with lots of chic clothes and shoes in the closet) looked pretty glamorous. To top it off, she seemed footloose and fancy free—telling me that she was (obviously) not saving money because she “would never be 25 again!”
The many young people that share this sentiment would do well to listen to that Democratic National Convention theme song, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” It’s true that there’s nothing quite like the freedom you have in your 20s, but what my friend should have told me is that you’ll never have the chance to start saving at a young age again.
Though it may seem like a million years away, when you’re a little less young and you’re buying homes, sending your kids to college and nearing retirement years you’ll be glad you thought about saving at a young age. And if you get in the habit of saving even just a little from every paycheck, there’s no question that you’ll afford a lot of fun through all decades of your life.
This is the message that Galia Gichon delivers to the many women she advises through her nationally recognized company, Down-to-Earth Finance, based in Westport, Connecticut. Every day Galia finds new ways to educate women about saving, investing and financial control—fueling lifelong independence, confidence and freedom. I asked Galia to give me just three tips for young women nearing college graduation or just starting out in their careers.
HERE’S HER EASY-TO-FOLLOW ADVICE:
- MAKE SAVING ROUTINE AND PAINLESS. Set up automatic savings transferred from your checking account to a separate online savings account (for example, INGDIRECT.com or AmericanExpress.com). These banks pay higher interest rates than your local bank and are a bit harder to access (which is a good thing!). If the money is out of sight, it’s out of mind and harder to touch. There are no minimums and no fees. Even if you think you aren’t earning enough to save, start with a small amount–like $25 out of every paycheck. This will start your habit of “paying yourself” and building financial strength–a savings muscle you will flex your whole life!
- USE TECHNOLOGY TO TRACK YOUR SPENDING. Mint.com is a great way to view your monthly spending history—in various categories. Seeing where your money is spent—and how fast it can be spent on incidentals—is an eye opener. Once you see that you’re spending too much money on fancy coffee, try out an app such as Envelopes or YNAB to stick to a reasonable budget and practice smarter spending.
- SIGN UP FOR THE COMPANY 401K SAVINGS PLAN. (if there is one) as soon as you land a job. This is another way to benefit from regular, automatic savings. Some employers even match your plan contribution, so make sure you contribute enough to take advantage of the match. When you’re asked to choose how you want to invest your 401k money, be sure to pick diversified mutual funds that include Large Cap, Small Cap, International and Bonds. If your employer doesn’t offer a 401k, open a ROTH IRA at a no-load mutual company such as Vanguard or Fidelity.
If you’re ready to delve deeper into your personal financial planning, consider buying Galia’s “My Money Matters Kit”, which is a fun, informative and comprehensive guide to peace of mind and long-term wealth. On Galia’s web site, www.downtoearthfinance.com, you’ll also find a blog, newsletter and full schedule of seminars and teleclasses to further your financial education. Mention or use the coupon code 9Lives for a 10% discount.
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