College graduate finances

June 8, 2011 2:01:34 PM PDT
A new crop of college grads is about to enter the working world, and the financial decisions they make now could impact them through retirement.

Today, it's a diploma in hand. Soon, it's a first paycheck. And when leaving college, most new grads will be managing their own money for the first time.

No matter how small that first paycheck might be, set something aside in a rainy-day fund, and for purchases in the not-so-distant future, like a home.

Even if you're in your early 20s and think, I'm not ready for a house yet, if you just start setting aside a little bit with every paycheck, you won't really notice it.

Understand the retirement plan outlined by your new employer, and don't be shy about asking them to explain it, like if they'll match your contributions. Also ask for an explanation of what company health insurance covers.

When moving out of the dorm for the first time to enter the real world, renter's insurance can save you money in case of an emergency. Even if you don't think you own very much, if you just have some key electronics, a computer, just a decent wardrobe, that can really add up. And renter's insurance can protect that if anything happens to your property.

Finally, also know the terms of student loans, when you'll be expected to start paying them off, and have a plan in place to pay the bills.