I recently graduated college with a degree in mechanical engineering, which means I’m certified in having a way with numbers and at least a little common sense. I’ve spent the last few years reading such riveting literature as: personal finance blogs, IRS publications, and my employee handbook’s fine print. You name it; if it’s related to my finances I have poured through it. After a couple of years advising friends, family, and coworkers on personal finance, I’ve decided to compile what I’ve learned in one place. There are a lot of things I wish people had told me when I was in high school or college. This may be the place for you if:
- You’re just starting out.
- You’re in debt.
- You’re not sure if you should start saving for retirement yet. (Spoiler alert, you should.)
- You want to be talked into starting a budget.
- You get confused about what an IRA is and if you’re allowed to have one. Who was this Roth guy, and why does he have his own account?
- You are saving for retirement, but you’re not sure how much you should be putting away.
- You like math, derivations of equations, and spreadsheets; OR calculators that mean you don’t need to use any of those things (you unlettered barbarian, you).
To put it another way, this blog is geared people who are just beginning to transition away from financial dependence, whether from their parents or a student loan company, and are beginning to stand on their own two feet. If you like lists and want another one, there is an excellent post by Radical Personal Finance that details The Stages of Financial Independence. This can serve as a useful road map if you’re someone who likes to plan for the big picture, but everyone needs to start with the basics.
I believe that the first few years of working full time, living away from your parents, and having to deal with the ins and outs of bills, retirement plans, and credit applications are critical in developing the knowledge and the habits that make for a stable financial future. I also think that taking small steps today can drastically improve your outlook.
The best time to plant a tree was ten years ago, as they say. When you look back on this part of your life a decade from now, what do you think you would want to see?