Top 10 Money Tips for New Graduates

Many people who graduated years ago probably wish they could go back and do a few things over. Most financial challenges can be avoided by doing things in a careful way. Adopting healthy finance habits can make your future a lot easier and more enjoyable.

On the other hand, unhealthy financial habits can create challenges that take years of work to fully recover. So, get your adulthood started on a positive financial path from the beginning.

Consider incorporating these tips into your financial life as an adult:

1. Read a basic book on personal finance. Good personal finance habits aren’t complicated, but they’re very important. They’re also most effective when started early. Get a good book on this topic and read all about it. Then actually follow the advice.

2. Create a simple budget. Consider your salary and then put together a budget that makes sense for your income and expenses. Remember to set aside some money for savings and investing each month.

3. Avoid debt. Poor spending habits can cause challenging situations quickly. Avoid saddling yourself with debt. A possible exception is taking out a loan to buy a home. Debt is a dream killer because it takes years to resolve.

4. Reduce your current debt. Few things feel better than being debt-free. Your debt is a barrier to fully enjoying your future. Set up a plan to get out of debt. You’ll be glad you did!

5. Create an emergency fund. Start with the goal of setting aside three months of living expenses. If you should ever require it, you’ll be prepared and grateful to have it.

6. Begin investing as soon as possible. The greatest financial leverage young adults have is time. Even small investments can grow into incredible sums given enough time. Educate yourself about stocks and bonds and get started today.

7. Take full advantage of tax-deferred retirement accounts. It’s hard to find a better deal than a 401(k) available through your employer. Between the matching, tax deductions and tax-deferred growth, you won’t find a better investing deal around. Remember to investigate the different IRA offerings, too.

8. Leave your 401(k) alone. Many young adults come up with a reason to dip into their retirement accounts, under the guise of having enough time to make up for it later. This is a huge mistake. You’re better off doing without than having to raid your retirement funds.

9. Secure health insurance. No country has higher medical costs than the US. Because of this, many bankruptcies are due to medical expenses. Illnesses and accidents happen, so be prepared. Everyone requires health insurance to mitigate this substantial risk.

10. Spend your money on worthwhile experiences. You can’t just save like a miser. Life is short, so get out and enjoy it. It’s okay to spend some money on enjoyable experiences without being afraid. This is a big part of the reason you earn money in the first place.

Avoid the many pitfalls of developing poor personal finance habits. Mistakes made at this point in your life are recoverable, but the entire experience can still be extremely challenging.

Good habits ensure good outcomes. Your financial future can be great, if you’re willing to put a smart plan into action right now. There’s no reason to repeat the mistakes of others.

Implement these 10 tips and you’ll find your financial life will have a minimal amount of drama and challenges. Avoiding mistakes is a huge part of being successful.

Enjoy Family Fun for Free

As a parent, it’s likely one of your consistent goals to involve your kids in activities they’ll enjoy. Of course, many of the pastimes you’d like to participate in as a family end up costing money, and with a tight economy, you may have to put some of those pursuits aside.

The good thing, however, is that there are always activities that will enable your family to have fun without breaking the bank. Be creative with family fun so your expenditure is minimal without sacrificing the excitement.

Try these fun – and free – activities:

1. Take it to the park. Whether it’s a few minutes or a few miles away, the nearest park is a great place to have free family fun. Pack all the toys and playthings that you and your kids will enjoy using outdoors. These could include kites, Frisbees, balls and badminton sets.

* Put together some easy-to-prepare treats or go all out by taking along the grill. Your family will certainly enjoy chicken salad sandwiches or grilled hot dogs and burgers.

* Remember to take along your MP3 music dock so all your family fun can be had to the backdrop of your favorite song selections.

2. Plan a backyard campout. Make it a date with your kids to have an official campout right in your own backyard. This is a fun way to simulate a true camping experience.

* Borrow your neighbor’s tent or rent one. Equip it with sleeping bags, lanterns and mosquito repellant to get the real feel of the outdoors.

* Set up a dirt-filled pit for starting a campfire. Be sure to keep it controlled so there are no issues with spreading flames. You and your family can roast marshmallows while telling scary stories around the fire! Make all your meals on the campfire or use your outdoor grill.

3. Enjoy a beach trip. In almost all cases, sun, sand and sea are free of charge! Pack snacks or meals so you won’t have the expense of stopping at a restaurant for lunch.

* Be sure to take beach toys like floats and beach balls so you can capitalize on every element of the beachfront.

* Remember your camera to capture moments like your kids doing handstands in the water or your family making its largest sandcastle to date!

4. Plan a movie night. There’s no reason to leave home for movie night once you have a TV, warm blankets and lots of popcorn. Create the ambience you want by having everything available that the movie theater would.

* Your kids’ favorite snacks are a must – popcorn, Skittles and soda pops are definite staples for a movie night.

* For added fun, why not get a few pairs of 3D glasses and enjoy the full effect of a 3D movie?

So as you can see, it’s pretty easy to have family fun with very little or even no financial input. All you need to do is show a little creativity and offer your family alternatives to the typical activities that cost an arm and a leg. You’ll save money while still allowing your family to have a wonderful time.

Spend Big on These 5 Items to Save Money

Most financial experts are concerned with teaching you to conserve your dollars any way you can. However, sometimes, there are actually reasons that you should spend a little more to ultimately save more.

When you’re paying out your hard earned money for appliances, furniture, or other things you use every day, you want them to hold up and last over the long haul.

Consider this information when you go shopping for these items:

1. Coffeemakers. If you’re a coffee aficionado, you know how important it is to make a good cup of coffee. On the other hand, if you prefer only the occasional single cup, you should still make the most financially smart choice when buying a coffeemaker.

* Do you drink several cups daily? Choose a sturdy, energy-efficient coffeemaker model. The least expensive model will likely not fulfill the task of keeping up with your coffee habit.

* Do you love your coffee but limit yourself to one cup daily? Consider one of the single-serving models. Yes, they’re expensive, but they’ll last for many years. Plus, if you don’t want to buy the single serving pre-measured coffee pods, you can still purchase the smaller filter cup to fill it with bulk-purchased coffee.

2. Cooking knives. Good knives will last longer than you will.

* If those cutting tools last you for 60+ years and you never buy another one, you’ll be money ahead even if you buy expensive knives. Be willing to pay more for quality, guaranteed-for-life knives.

3. Lawn mowers. Those who mow their own lawns know how incredibly frustrating it can be to go out to the garage, pull the lawn mower out, check the oil, fill it with gas, and then the mower won’t start. You only have two hours to get the grass cut. How annoying!

* A good lawn mower is constructed with quality parts and will pay off many times over. Pay a few bucks more to get the best (not necessarily the biggest) lawn mower.

4. Bed mattresses. Buying your mattress at a discount or general department store often means you aren’t getting the quality of construction you’d get if you went directly to the mattress maker’s retail store. Why?

* Mattress makers produce lesser-quality mattresses to sell for less (with their brand names on them) in those discount and department stores. Chances are good that if you pay a bit more, you’ll receive a higher quality product that will hold up over the long run.

5. Sofas. Think of the abuse a sofa goes through-kids jumping on it, you propping your feet on it, and your spouse taking a nap on it. It needs solid construction and well-designed cushions to last over the years.

* If you’ve ever owned a cheaply-made sofa, you know this is true: splurge when it’s time to buy a new sofa–$1,800+ is wise. If you can get a high-end sofa on sale, go for it.

Of course, when shopping for any of these items, do your homework in advance to find out as much as possible about the particular brand and model you’re planning to purchase. Look for sales on well-designed, quality-constructed items.

The bottom line is that when you pay more for these items, they’ll pay you back by lasting more years with no or fewer break-downs.

Be ready to spend more when you know that, in the long run, it will pay off in spades!

Your Debt, Your Job, and the Financial Apocalypse

It’s no secret that your debt and your job are closely connected. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who are totally debt-free, one of the reasons you work is probably so you can pay your debts.

The prosperous and thriving economy that we’ve been enjoying for decades has turned into recession. But if you think things are tough now, how will you make it when times truly become difficult to live in? What do you think will happen if the financial apocalypse hits?

Will your debts still follow you? Probably so. Unless there is total breakdown of all communications and money transfers, your debt will still be a monkey on your back. Regardless of the economy, you’ll still be responsible for paying it.

Will your job still be around so you can pay your debts? Probably not.

So what can you do to resolve this dilemma and better prepare yourself to handle financial chaos? What kind of a plan can you put in place for your money and savings?

Most importantly, what steps can you start taking if your resources are limited?

Following these guidelines will give you an advantage:

1. Start paying down your debt. Absolving yourself from debt will be one of the best things you can do to free yourself from your financial burdens and help you become much less dependent on your job to make ends meet.

* Put your credit cards away. Over 8 million Americans have foregone using credit cards altogether, so why not follow suit? If you rarely use your cards, your payments will make more of an impact.

* Send more than the minimum payments. Even if it’s a small amount, every extra dollar you send will bring down the debt, as opposed to mostly paying interest and related charges.

* Make a plan and follow it. Determine where you can save money from other expenditures and use these savings to pay down your debt. Perhaps you could get into couponing. Maybe you could stay in one night a week instead of going out.

2. Reduce your dependence on your job. There are several things you can do now to alleviate the negative effects of losing your job in an economic meltdown:

* Start developing saving habits now so you can make your money and resources stretch as far as they possibly can when it counts the most.

* Establish more streams of income. What services can you do for others that they’ll pay you for? Can you make items to sell? Perhaps you can pick up items at flea markets and garage sales and then sell them for a profit on Craigslist or EBay.

3. Acquire a healthy collection of gold and silver coins. They’ll be your best bet for ensuring that you’re able to provide for yourself and your family when the dollar devalues, inflation grows rampant, and supplies grow scarce!

Thinking of the financial apocalypse may sound morbid, but having a plan to fall back on in case it happens is smart. Start putting these guidelines into your money plan today to secure a bright financial future for you and your family.