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Financial Advice

A Financial Guide on What to Do After College

Use these resources to help you set up retirement savings, tackle debt, and begin investing.

Illustrative collage of a bank note, pencil and graduation hat along with some decorative charts and symbols

Congratulations, graduates! Now that your march to “Pomp and Circumstance” is over, here comes the fun part: navigating your first job, setting up your retirement plan … the list goes on. This guide will help you with the many “firsts” you’ll face during this turning point in your financial lives.

What Are My Company’s Benefits?

A big part of starting your first job is understanding your benefits, like your company’s retirement plan options. As you find yourself in a flurry of first-day jitters and paperwork, some of the questions running through your mind may be:

  • What retirement savings plans does my new employer offer?
  • How much should I be saving for retirement?
  • Do I have to get my own insurance now?
  • Am I eligible to invest in a health savings account, or will a flexible savings account be a better fit?
  • Where is the best place to begin?

We have all the answers to those questions and more:

How to Size Up a Job’s Benefits

When evaluating a job offer and negotiating a salary, take missing benefits into account.

What’s the Difference Between a 401(k) and Roth IRA?

Find out how saving now can really matter later.

Five (Easy) Steps to Setting Up a 401(k)

Cross this big to-do off your list by following these easy guidelines.

How to Invest In Your 401(k)

Starting a new job? Here’s a beginner’s manual to understanding 401(k)s.

How Much Should I Have in My 401(k)?

If you’re enrolled in a 401(k) plan, here is what you need to know about this retirement savings vehicle.

HSA vs. FSA: How to Choose One

Get to know the differences between them and find out which one is right for you.

When Do You Get Kicked Off Your Parents’ Insurance?

And how to get your own health insurance.

How Do I Manage My Money Better?

Earning your own money can be exciting. Making smart, financial decisions about where those dollars go is … a little less so. You’ll most likely be juggling several financial goals and responsibilities, like:

  • Saving for retirement
  • Paying down debt
  • Building an emergency fund

Just to name a few.

Find balance by creating a realistic budget, keep your financial goals in mind, and protect your money with these tips:

Financial Fraud Is Real—Here’s How to Protect Your Money

Watch out for these red flags.

How Much in Taxes Is Taken Out of Your Paycheck?

Where does the money go, and what is it used for?

How to Create a Budget

If you’re just starting out, don’t wing it with your expenses.

This Budgeting Trick Can Help With Your Financial Goals

The golden ratio can help you find the right balance between spending and saving.

How to Create an Emergency Fund

Setting aside money for unexpected expenses could help soften financial hits.

How Gig Economy Workers Can Save for Retirement

Here are four things to keep in mind.

Quantify and Set Financial Goals

How investment multitaskers can prioritize competing financial objectives.

How Can I Tackle My Debt?

Debt is an intimidating subject—and reality for a lot of people, especially college graduates. Student loan debt at graduation is an estimated $31,100 per student, according to research from the Education Data Initiative.

As your financial journeys continue to unfold, you’ll face other kinds of debt, too: credit card debt, auto loans, mortgages, and so on. I know what you’re thinking: So when do we get to the good part?

Here’s the good news: you can take control of your debt:

How to Get Out of Debt

Here’s how using debt snowball or debt avalanche can help you become debt-free.

Why Do I Need a Credit Card?

And what else to know about opening and managing your first credit card.

7 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

These tips can help you establish or improve your credit.

Can I Take a Loan From My 401(k)?

Thinking about borrowing from your 401(k) in the future? Consider setting up an emergency fund first.

How Can I Keep Improving My Financial Education?

Before you download a brokerage app or open up an investment account, take some time to learn the basics about investing. Undergrad may be over, but financial literacy is a lifelong course.

From the best investing books for beginners to the ins and outs of the most common investment vehicles, build your financial knowledge with these resources:

An Investing Road Map for Early Career Accumulators

Tips on getting the most bang for your investment dollars when you’re just starting out.

What Are Target-Date Funds?

Investors in target-date funds can set up a diversified portfolio and maintain a sensible asset allocation for decades without breaking a sweat.

What Is an Exchange-Traded Fund?

We explain what ETFs are, how to use them, and how to find the best ones.

What Are Mutual Funds?

We break down the basics of one of the most common investment vehicles for new investors.

Personal Finance Tips and Advice for Recent College Graduates

Morningstar’s investing specialists recommend saving for retirement early, negotiating your starting salary, and more.

Best Investing Podcasts for Beginners

Check out these recommendations from Morningstar’s employees.

7 Great Investing Books for Beginners

Want to get smarter about investing? Check out some of these books.

The author or authors do not own shares in any securities mentioned in this article. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.

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