Embarking on your financial journey is a pivotal moment, marking newfound independence and responsibility. Whether starting your career or seeking new income streams, managing finances is crucial. From getting your first credit card to saving for goals, each step builds financial literacy and stability. Mastering these basics equips you to navigate the financial landscape and secure a brighter future. 

Here, we outline key initial steps for financial success:

Step 1: Setting Up Your Account

As you kickstart your financial journey, the first step is to start earning money. Whether it’s as a hostess, a drive-thru attendant, or at your local bowling alley, landing a job is your gateway to income. Once you receive your initial paycheck, it’s time to open your own bank account. While borrowing your mom’s card might have been convenient before, it’s time to take charge of your finances independently. This initial account might not offer much freedom, especially if it’s linked to your mom’s account, but it marks the beginning of your smart financial decisions.

Step 2: Managing Your Money Wisely

With your bank account in place, it’s crucial to start budgeting (click here to learn how: https://gabriel.money/the-50-30-20-budget-rule-explained/), saving, and investing. Learning to budget early on sets you up for financial success as your income grows. Saving allows you to work towards short and long-term goals and provides a safety net for unexpected expenses. While you may not be ready to invest in the stock market yet, investing in yourself by acquiring new skills and certifications can enhance your earning potential (click on this link for some ideas how!: https://gabriel.money/level-up-your-summer-get-licensed-or-certified-in-your-field/).

Step 3: Getting Your First Credit Card

Once you’re old enough to apply for a credit card, it’s essential to choose wisely. Research thoroughly to find a card that suits your needs. Here’s what to consider when selecting a card:

  • Check the approval requirements to ensure you qualify.
  • Pay attention to APRs to avoid high-interest debt.
  • Look for cards with attractive offers, rewards, and benefits.
  • Ensure the bank prioritizes security to protect your information.
  • Consider cards that offer credit-building opportunities to establish a positive credit history.

One excellent option to kickstart your financial journey is the Gabriel Secured card. It’s designed for beginners, offering no hidden fees, 0% APRs, and the opportunity to build credit using your own funds! Click this link to learn more : https://gabriel.money/understanding-the-gabriel-secured-deposit-account-and-the-gabriel-secured-card/.

Step 4: Saving Towards Your Goals

With good credit established, it’s time to focus on saving for specific goals, such as a car, starting a business, or buying a home. Your budgeting skills from Step 1 will come in handy as you allocate funds towards different types of savings:

  1. Emergency Fund Savings: This is your “DO NOT TOUCH fund”, examples include: money to use in college, car repairs, house damages, hospital visits, etc.
  2. “I Can Touch” Fund: This is your fund for personal wants, examples include: gifts for family/friends, travel plans, personal maintenance, etc.
  3. Financial Goals Fund: This fund is dedicated to your goals, this includes: a new car, first house, college tuition, your wedding, etc.
  4. Long-Term Savings Fund: This fund is focused on your long-term financial goals that you will begin thinking of when in college or as you become an adult, an example would be a down-payment for a house, etc.

Step 5: Planning for Retirement

Planning for retirement should start as early as possible. Consider contributing to retirement plans like:

  • 401(k) Plans offered through work, where contributions grow tax-free.
  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), including Traditional IRAs for pre-tax contributions and Roth IRAs for tax-free withdrawals.

Contributing to these accounts sets you on the path to a financially secure future (remember there are more options out there!).

These five steps lay the foundation for a financially successful life. Ready to dive deeper? Check out our article on understanding debt and consumer habits: https://gabriel.money/why-are-we-in-debt-u-s-consumer-habits-that-lead-to-debt/

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