How to Make the Most of Your Money When You Get Your First “Real” Job

6 min readJul 11, 2022
Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

401K, HSA, Roth IRA, Emergency savings fund, ESPP, and the list keeps going — you need to know these terms when you get a full-time role, but a large population of college graduates do not, and I was one.

You don’t get taught about money in most schools. We all know this is a sad fact, and nothing has changed yet.

I was elated when I completed my internship and got a full-time offer. I remember my recruiter call vividly, and when she called out my compensation on my offer, my eyes glowed, and I almost jumped during the call (but I kept my cool). I mean, it was more money than I had ever had. When I started working post-graduation and got paid the first couple of times, man, that was a trip because I went from a broke college student doing two jobs (one to pay tuition and the other to fund myself) to getting paid these dollar signs.

Now, all that aside, I was never prepped on how to save this new money, invest it, what options I had, 401k, Roth IRA, HSA, all the acronyms were foreign! Shoutout to Jerry Lee for giving me some solid advice and guidance to lay some solid foundations.

The following paragraphs are not financial advice but the advice I was given and took, plus information from a couple of articles and videos I incorporated. So, if you are a new grad or switching jobs, here is how I handled my money.

The Plan:

  1. Advice A: The first advice I received was to allocate specific amounts bi-weekly from my paycheck into my savings account, emergency savings fund, max out my 401k & HSA, and utilize my Roth IRA. (More details about these accounts are below). Also, this might sound like a lot of money you are putting away, but as Jerry told me, you have never seen all this amount of money, so you won’t miss it if you do these things early (the first month or 2 when you start)
  2. Advice B: Be aware of lifestyle creeps: Now, listen, you have worked very hard and landed this job that pays well. You have contributed all money into the various accounts so feel free to spend on yourself and enjoy. Buy yourself some things you have wanted, furnish that apartment to your taste but be aware of lifestyle creeps. These are unnecessary Expenses that become regular, which…

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