In the coming weeks, many high school and college graduates will leave the classroom for the real world. And for the first time, many will make money decisions that will affect their financial freedom.
They’ll spend on cell phones, apartments and dinners with friends. They will decide whether to use credit cards or contribute to a retirement plan.
Seemingly routine spending decisions matter greatly. Here are three tips that could make a difference:
Learn about money.
Blogs such as iwillteachyoutoberich. com and GetRichSlowly.org are good resources, as are such books as “Your Money or Your Life” and “Personal Finance for Dummies.”
Listening to podcasts of radio shows by Clark Howard and Dave Ramsey will get you up to speed on most money topics.
Or, if you prefer information by television, you can watch Howard, Ramsey or Suze Orman.
The key isn’t deprivation, but conscious spending, which refers to scrutinizing spending to ensure you’re spending on purpose, rather than accident and habit.
Ramit Sethi, 26, author of the book “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” suggests starting with just two large areas of spending, so you don’t become overwhelmed – and set yourself up for failure – by trying to cut spending across all areas.
Build habits that last.
Money competence doesn’t come from completing a series of one-time tasks but from developing habits. Three examples are managing money regularly, being wary of subscriptions and learning to cook.
For managing money, look to sites such as Mint.com, Wesabe.com or Quicken.com, which aggregate your accounts and provide tools for examining your money life. And try to put your savings on autopilot, such as participating in an employer’s 401(k) retirement plan.
Subscriptions – such as cell phone plans, movie-by-mail clubs and gym memberships – can be insidious because you’re spending unconsciously. When possible, choose a pay-as-you-go plan until you’re certain about how much you’ll use a service.
Cooking at home is not a replacement for social dinners out. Instead, it allows you to eat for less on routine days when you might otherwise be tempted.
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