Now that you’ve crossed the graduation platform and entered the real world, you’re likely wondering if there’s a formula to mastering adulthood beyond college. But the truth is, there’s no secret recipe. In fact, most adults — even the ones you’ve looked up to the most — made a lot of it up as the went along, especially during the early years of their careers.
So what sets some adulting super stars apart from their struggling counterparts? Honestly, it varies from person-to-person based on an individual’s personality, circumstances and career choice. But there are 10 actions you can take financially, professionally and personally that’ll help you forge your future with your best foot forward.
Take good care of your credit.
Your credit score isn’t just a number. It’s your ticket to achieving many of life’s major milestones from homeownership to landing your dream job. Because — for better or worse — many creditors and employers use it to gauge your trustworthiness. To build and maintain your credit score pay your bills on time every time, use credit cards smartly, keep the amount you owe low and monitor your credit regularly.
Live within your means.
While living within your means may seem obvious, it’s a common pitfall of adults young and old. To keep yourself on track (and out of insurmountable debt), aim to keep your rent lower than 30 percent of your income, drive a sensible car, borrow with purpose and caution, and don’t overdo it on clothing and entertainment.
Make saving money a priority.
Saving money may take a little discipline, but the payoff is worth your effort. With money in your Savings Account, you’ll have the opportunity to face emergencies with ease, have a down payment when you need one and make investments when you’re ready. You can even make saving seem effortless with FAIRWINDS banking technologies like automatic deposits and ¢hange it up.
Take advantage of your employer’s 401k.
Think it’s too early to worry about retirement, think again. Retirement has a way of creeping up on people. Plus, your retirement needs are greater than you think. Get ahead of the ball and start now with a 401k.
A 401k is a pre-tax retirement savings plan offered by employers. In many cases, employers will match your contributions toward the plan up to a specific percentage of your salary — making it essentially free money. Start contributing a little toward it on day one, and increase your contributions every time you get a raise. If your employer doesn’t offer one, you can contribute toward an Individual Retirement Plan (IRA) instead.
Start building professional relationships.
“It’s all about who you know,” is a ubiquitous saying for good reason. The relationships you build throughout your career are nearly as important your degree. That’s because your connections can help with your with next career move. They also help you achieve more in your current role, because you’ll have contacts others don’t when tackling a project.
Keep on learning.
Learning doesn’t stop just because you’ve graduated, especially in today’s world. Technologies, trends and processes seem to be in a constant state of flux as new and better ways of doing things are discovered. Avoid getting left behind by reading professional journals, joining professional organizations, taking webinars and attending seminars.
Master the present moment.
We’re sure you have plans to take the world by storm and sit in the CEO’s chair someday, but it’s very important to focus on mastering your first role first. Don’t see it as paying your dues. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to become the expert. Make your knowledge sought after. Volunteer to solve problems others didn’t see. Before you know it, you’ll be called upon for a promotion.
Learn to cook.
If you don’t know how to cook already, now’s the time to learn. Not only will it save you a ton of cash, it will likely keep you healthier. From YouTube to cooking channels, there are plenty of resources out there to help you get started. You may even consider taking a cooking class or two. They can be a lot of fun and are a creative date night option.
Make time to give back.
Do you look at the world around you and wonder what you can do to improve things? The best place for you to make a difference is in your community by thinking globally and acting locally. Whether you volunteer your time helping Veterans, the homeless or neighborhood school kids, you’ll make a positive impact on your community. It’ll also help you keep things in perspective. Reminding you of all that you have to be grateful for.
Seek guidance with confidence.
Throughout adulthood, you’ll be faced with many decisions on how to spend and earn money. Before making major financial choices, know that FAIRWINDS crewmembers are there to help you make the right choices with your money, so you can stay on the path toward financial freedom. Stop by your nearest branch whenever you need a little guidance along the way, and we’ll be more than happy to help.