4 Things You Should Do Once You Land Your First Job

One of the most exciting financial milestones in many lives is the first job. Whether it’s your very first job working part-time while a high school student, or your first job after graduating from college, you need to make the most of it.

Starting out right is vital if you want financial freedom later. So, here are a few things to do once you land your first job:

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Things To Do After Getting A Job

1. Create a Plan for Your Money

It’s vital that you create a plan for your money. Think about your priorities, and put together a spending plan or budget that reflects your most important goals. Make sure you plan to give to church and/or charity, save for the future, and create a plan that allows you to live within your means. Track your spending, and do your best to adjust your habits to your income. Make it a point to save up for purchases, and create a plan that helps you avoid debt. Whether you are in high school, or fresh out of college, a plan for your money will help you better reach your financial goals.

2. Open a Retirement Account

One of the most important things you can do for your future is to open a retirement account. Start investing in your future now. You can arrange to have a portion of your paycheck automatically deposited into a retirement account in many cases. Even if you can’t have it deducted from your paycheck, you can set up an automatic transfer so that money moves from your checking account into your retirement account on a specified date.

Even if your job doesn’t offer the ability to contribute to a retirement account, you can still open an IRA (or a Roth IRA). Even a high school student can contribute part of his or her earned income to an IRA. The earlier you start, the better.

3. Start Building Good Credit

You also want to start building a good credit history, now that you have income. If you are starting your first job after college, you might already have a student credit card. Use your card regularly — and pay it off. Get a small loan from your bank. Make sure all of your obligations and bills are paid on time and in full. Responsible use of credit now will help you in the future, resulting in lower interest rates on home and car loans, and even in lower insurance premiums, saving you thousands of dollars over your lifetime.

4. If You Have Debt, Plan to Pay it Off Quickly

Finally, now that you have income, it’s time to pay off your debt as quickly as possible. Most high school students don’t have debt yet, but if you are starting your first job after college, chances are that you have some student loan debt, at least. Look at your obligations, and figure out how you can pay off your debt as quickly as possible. Create a debt repayment plan, and stick with it. The sooner you stop paying interest to someone else, the sooner you can put that money to work for you.

Last Edited: 16th September 2011

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  1. says

    I couldn’t agree more with all of these. For me the most important and one you’ll really thank yourself for later in life is starting a retirement account. I so wish I could go back and make my 16 year old self open an IRA and contribute at least some money to get me started back then. I’d have a big step up compared to most people. It’s the advice I like to give any young people I know. That and don’t rack up debt.

  2. says

    I’m not a huge fan of building credit, but the rest of the article was great!

    Keep in mind that the only reason a person would want to build credit is to go into more debt . . . yet we are trying to get people out of debt! Of course, one could argue that insurance premiums are reduced when you have good credit, but still, would I really want to risk having a credit card in my life to save a few bucks on insurance?

    I love that you mentioned creating a plan for your money. This is so very important! Too many people don’t keep a budget, and it ends up costing them in the long run.

    • says

      Good credit opens a lot of doors now. And, with employers increasingly looking at your credit report, some banks checking your credit before agreeing to open a deposit account and the ability to buy a home (should you choose to want one) it’s about more than just saving a few bucks on your insurance. (I save $20 a month on my tri-line insurance because of my credit score. $240 a year over 10 years is $2,400. Not bad for “a few bucks.”) It may not be fair, but more and more financial service providers — not just lenders — are becoming more reliant on credit because it’s a fast way to evaluate you. Responsible credit use doesn’t have to be about more debt. I know plenty of people who use credit — and have no debt beyond a mortgage.

  3. says

    This is certainly great advice Miranda. You could take it one step further and encourage people to work on #1,3, and 4 even if they haven’t landed their first job yet.

    If nothing else, at least start thinking about how you will plan to approach your finances.

  4. says

    Good call on opening a retirement account Miranda! A lot of people neglect this step when they first start making money, deferring it to a “someday” that may never come. And as we all know, the earlier you start a plan, the less you’ll have to save later when there are other concerns, like funding college for your children.

    The Roth IRA is an especially good option for someone starting out, since you can always withdraw your contributions tax free, should that become necessary. Hopefully it won’t and you can let it grow.

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