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Tip of the Week
Despite a turbulent job market and economy, if you are a recent college graduate, there is much to be optimistic about as you leave campus and head out into the real world. No one ever says life on your own will be easy, but post-graduate financial bliss can be a reality. These six tips from Thrivent Financial offer a starting point for recent graduates who are ready to put their education to work for a secure financial future.
- Get real about your paycheck: Compared to the minimum wage jobs you survived on through college, the annual earnings at your first post-graduate job may give you dollar-sign eyes. Don't be fooled though; after taxes, benefits, living expenses and student loan payments, your remaining monthly spending money could amount to less than half of your gross income. Being realistic about your paycheck doesn't mean you can't have any fun, though. That new car may have to wait a while, but with smart budgeting you can still enjoy the finer things in life with a clear conscience.
- Your credit score matters: Thought you were done worrying about scores? Think again. Whether you want to get an apartment, mortgage, car or a new job, your credit score says a lot about you and can make or break these important investments. Free credit reports are available at www.annualcreditreport.com, and for a small fee you can also obtain your credit score. Examine your report regularly for accuracy, and pay off any existing credit card debt as soon as possible. Credit card interest is wasted money, and outstanding debt can hurt your credit score.
- Take care of yourself first: After expenses and taxes, your paycheck may look too slim for comfort, but protecting your assets, health and income is worth the additional cost. If you have an apartment, renter's insurance is a relatively inexpensive way to protect your possessions. Health insurance is also a must, whether you get it through your employer or stay on your parents' plan. Your paycheck is worth protecting, too. Disability income insurance is not just for those with physically demanding jobs, as most beneficiaries are on disability from illness, not injury. Preparation for the unexpected comes at a small price considering the costs associated with the alternative.
- Save for the fun stuff: Again, being responsible with your finances doesn't mean you can't have any fun. You have worked hard to start your career, and deserve to reward yourself. The best way to spend smartly is simply to spend less than you have. Diligent saving allows for the occasional splurge without having to feel guilty or anxious about your decision to spend. Consider directly depositing a certain amount from your paycheck into a savings account for a "fun fund."
- Save for the grown-up stuff, too: Your parents' nagging may start to quiet now that you've graduated, but their retirement planning advice is worth listening to. Start investing now, you won't regret it. As you barely scratch the surface of your career, retirement seems a long way off, but successful investors understand that the longer your assets remain invested, the greater their potential for growth. The cash you forfeit now will pale in comparison to the amount you'll end up getting back at the end of your career if you start as early as possible.
When traveling abroad, many cellphone users fail to recognize their data plan is constantly in use, even when they think their phone isn't. The Better Business Bureau encourages those going abroad to take steps in preventing unnecessary charges.
The BBB advises consumers to do the following with their cellphone and cellphone provider in preparation for a trip abroad:
- Turn off your phone. If you don't need your phone and don't plan to use it while traveling abroad, turn it off. Another option is to rent or buy an international cell phone. Many rental plans offer services that work in several countries and may provide free incoming calls.
- Contact your cellphone provider. Cellphone users generally know not to make calls or send text messages while out of their coverage area or abroad. For the occasional traveler it may be worth looking into an international add-on plan. Your cellphone carrier can provide specific tips that cater to the roaming needs of your individual cellphone and data plan.
- Invest in a prepaid SIM card. For frequent, chatty travelers or long-term travelers consider investing in a prepaid SIM card. With access to a local phone number, vacationers will be able to make phone calls at the country's local rate.
- Check with your BBB. Travelers should always check with your BBB before choosing an international service provider.
For more information, visit www.bbb.org.
According to Food and Wine, the best cheap cities to visit are:
La Paz, Bolivia
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Facebook is reportedly buying facial-recognition technology company Face.com for about $60 million. Facebook already uses the company as part of it’s photo tagging system.
GateHouse News Service