How New Graduates Can Make Their Paycheck Work

You just finished struggling through high school or college, now your first job is all that is on your mind. You may even have it, but are a little less than dazzled by your take home pay. Don’t worry, it will get better for most of you. Until that day of wallet enlightenment, here are a few ways to make your paycheck work.

  • Unless you have a clunker that is killing you on repairs and gas, do not buy a car. When you do apply for student car loans, shop carefully. Sure you want a sporty model that says ”I’ve arrived”, but your zealousness could destroy your credit for the long term. Buy slightly used, certified used cars. At the very least, look at last year’s models. They will have much better value and incentive offerings than the newest cars.
  • If your parents are amenable, live at home for the first six months. Of course, that only benefits you if you save some money while there. If that is not feasible, then share an apartment with a coworker.
  • Manage your student loans. Take a deferment early on, but only one. Look into what programs are available. If your income is low, read up on the Income-Based Repayment program.
  • You do not have to buy new furniture. Avoid rent to own furniture and electronics.
  • Do not eat out every night. It is hard to cook for one, especially if you do not know how to cook. Learn a new skill and save yourself up to $50 a week.
  • Contribute to your company’s 401k. Even if it seems like a meager sum, it will grow and you will be glad for it when it comes time to retire. A 1-2% donation each week is less than you drop in a vending machine. Will you really miss it?

The first paycheck is the most disappointing thing in the world for some new grads. If you learn how to work your money, it will eventually work for you.