Advice for recent graduates: Start saving as a new “adult”

Since I started working in the financial planning industry in 2013, I heard many people say “I wish I had started saving earlier”. It may be too late for those people to start over, but we can prevent new “adults” from making mistakes by educating them and providing guidance.

As a young adult and financial planner, I can relate to the challenges my fellow millennials face and the importance of establishing good financial habits that will help them throughout their lives. Here is some advice I always give my friends when they ask for guidance:

  1. Create a budget: It will help you plan to save and may refrain you from overspending as you will be aware of what you can afford. Learn to live within your means!
  2. Save from the start: Start saving as much as you can from the beginning. I find it easier to save 10 percent of your pay from the start than to tighten your budget when you decide to start saving money later.
  3. Turn your hobby into a side gig: Do you play guitar? Offer guitar lessons. Do you love to cook? Start a YouTube channel showing your creations. The extra money could help supplement your lifestyle.
  4. Plan for the unexpected and build an emergency fund: The general advice is to save 3 to 6 months of expenses in an account that is easy to access and free of market risk. Look for a bank that will offer accounts with low or no fees. For example, Ally bank is an online bank that offers savings accounts with no monthly fees and up to 1.15 percent annual percentage yield.
  5. Take advantage of your employer match: If your employer offers a retirement plan with a match; make sure to participate and contribute enough to take advantage of the FULL match as it is free money!
  6. Pay attention to your credit score: Pay your bills on time and monitor your credit score. A weak credit score could result in being turned down for a loan, or being offered loans with high interest rates.
  7. Define your life goals: Define your long term and short term goals. This could be saving for a trip to Europe next year, or a down payment on a house, establishing an emergency fund, starting to save for retirement, or repaying debt. Once you know your goals, prioritize them depending on which goal matters to you most at the time. Usually, for a young adult that just graduated from college, the focus should be on saving for an emergency fund, retirement, or debt repayment.

It will take some time to master all aspects of your financial life after college, but the sooner you establish good financial habits, the better off you are going to be.

Keep your eyes on your financial goals and work toward success!


  1. 28 July 2017
    Tony Ceballos

    I believe in all your advise. Where were you when I was young? My wife and I started in our late 30’s to follow what you are advising. Even if we got a late start it was not too late. Today we enjoy a good life, enjoy traveling and doing things we want because we made plans, budgets, and saved for our future. But because we started later our nest egg was reduced and we cannot do EVERYTHING we would like. Not complaining, just reinforcing how important it is to start early. So tell all who ask, when they start working be sure to pay themselves first and not to think of that savings as a piggy bank, it’s for when they get old.

    • 28 July 2017
      Leslie Rea

      Thank you Tony, pay yourself first is a great advice!

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