Keys To Saving When You Start Your Career

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This guest post is brought to you by Stephanie Smith. (If you’re interested in contributing a guest post, please see our guest posting guidelines.)

Gone are the days of slaving away at your part-time job with dreams of something bigger. You’ve successfully gained a position with a company that will kick-start your new career. One of the benefits of having a career is that, ideally, it is something you really have a passion for. An added benefit is the pay that you will receive for doing the work that you love.

Seeing your first check has the potential to make your eyes light up and your mind wander. All those items that you thought about purchasing before but couldn’t afford at the time are now at the forefront of your mind.

Now picture yourself penniless the next week and wishing you had done things differently. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it? It could very well be the outcome if you are not careful about your spending habits.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t treat yourself from time-to-time; after all, you did the work for it, so why not reap the benefits. The key to saving money is being smart about how you spend it. There a few steps you can take in order to help save your hard-earned money.

Company Benefits:

If your company offers a 401k plan you should take advantage of it. It is a long-term investment plan created for saving money for your retirement. It is also a way to start getting yourself into the habit of spending what you can, not what you have.

Set Goals:

How much money would you like to save by the end of the month? How about by the end of the year? Setting a goal means making an agreement with yourself to set aside a portion of your income each pay period. This will help you learn how to budget for the necessities in your life.


When you open up a checking account with a bank, opt to open a savings account as well. While your checking account may see a lot of action, your savings account should be tamer. Take the money that you have decided to save and place it into your savings account.

Get Frugal:

Public Transit – If possible, get to your new job by way of public transportation. Choosing this alternative to driving can save you a lot of money. You will also avoid the hassle of traffic and the all too often trip to the gas station.

Reduce Your Electric Bill – Chances are you will spend an average of about 8-10 hours at work each day when you factor in the time it takes to get there, complete a work day and return home. Is anyone using the electronics around your home while you’re away? If the answer is no, then it is a good idea to unplug anything that will not be in use when you leave. This can save on your electric bill.

Thrift Shopping – Are you in need of new outfits to go along with that new job? Try thrift stores. They often carry clothing that is appropriate for the professional world, including suit coats or dresses. There are times where you will even come across unworn clothing that still has its original tag.

Beginning a new career can be an exciting time for you. Be sure to spend the money that you earn wisely. You will avoid stress by managing the money that you make in a way that will benefit you in the long run.

Author: Stephanie Smith is a mother of three, and a whiz when it comes down to budgeting and savings. She’s a big advocate of young professionals saving, for the rest of their life.

Reminder: This is a guest post. Please be polite, or the comments moderator will kick in.

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WHAT I DO: I help you reach financial independence. For free. I retired in 2002 after 20 years in the Navy's submarine force. I wrote "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" to share the stories of over 50 other financially independent servicemembers, veterans, and families. All of my writing revenue is donated to military-friendly charities.

  1. I think one of the key actions to take for one just starting out with their career is to “automate” saving and/or investing. If one’s initial goal is to set up an 3-6 month emergency fund, set up an allotment or automatic transfer to an account clearly earmarked for emergencies…the same goes with investing money. Automate your investments (i.e set up ACH transfer to your brokerage account on a monthly basis) so you don’t even “see” that money and you learn to live with what’s left (after you’ve paid for budgeted essentials, emergency funds and retirement investments). Once you have established this savings/investment discipline, then it becomes easier and it becomes a habit which one can carry through their working careers and retirement.

    • Thanks, Mel! My daughter’s home on summer leave and we’re going through that discussion right now. There are plenty of tools but she’s still seeking “the ones” that make it easier for her to track her spending as she’s walking away from the cash register.

      Luckily she’ll have no problem putting her TSP and her IRA contributions in autopilot.

  2. Unfortunately, since this is in a “retirement” forum, the very people who need to see this the most are the least likely to. Saving money from the first paycheck is the key to retirement security. When I see younger people getting into debt, I just shake my head.

    Comment? Question? What's on your mind?