5 Financial tips for new college grads

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PHOENIX – Nearly 11,000 students graduated from Arizona State University last week, joining tens of thousands of new grads throughout the country in the search for jobs and ways to stay afloat in a struggling economy.

According to Yahoo!, searches for “how to save money” have spiked 91 percent this month. Searches for “how to make money fast” was up 86 percent; search phrases like “how to invest” and “how to start a business” are also up significantly.

Financial expert Adrian Larson from Pathlight Investors says the key to financial stability is a good plan. Such a plan is crucial in today’s economy. With that in mind, Larson sat down with Tara Hitchcock to go over some tips for recent grads.

1. Start saving now.

2. Live within your budget, which means you have to establish a budget.

3. Pay off high-interest loans and credit cards first.

4. Participate in your company’s 401K plan.

5. Invest for the long term.

Many of today’s students are starting out in debt, both from student loans and credit cards.

“At the end of the day, instilling yourself with the value of budgeting [and the discipline to do it] and actually starting to save something, no matter what it is, is the only that you’re going to get out of debt,” Larson said.

Living with parents and part-time jobs can be good ways to deal with some expense, but they should not deter from a savings and budgeting plan, Larson cautioned.

“Just because you might not have that job you wanted right out of school does not mean that you can go ahead and step back from that responsibility,” he said.

Budgeting is key and you need to be aware of the seemingly little expenses – a daily coffee, fast-food lunches -- because those can add up to a significant amount quickly.

“You have to make sure you have a list of exactly what you’re spending and what you’re spending it on so you know where your dollars are going,” Larson said.

Participating is a 401K plan is an extremely easy step to take that can pay off down the road. If you don’t have a job or your employer doesn’t offer a 401K, you can still get a similar benefit by opening a tax-advantage account like an IRA.

“You need to be able to have tax-deferred growth,” Larson said.

While these tips are geared toward those who are just out of college and planning their futures, they really can apply to pretty much anyone.

Pathlight Investors, LLC is located at 3131 E. Camelback Road, Suite 211, Phoenix. For more information, call 602-795-7600.