Aiming For A Smart Financial Start

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OCEAN CITY — You’re eager to build your career, so focusing on the present may seem like the most important thing to do. But consider this — if you take just a little time to think about the future, you could build a strong financial foundation that could mean greater financial freedom throughout your life. So take advantage of your age. Consider these ideas.

Many people live at home for a while after college, or with roommates. You may want your own place, but as long as you’re where you are, take advantage of the money you’re saving on housing costs.

Before you move out, make sure you’re financially ready. Have you paid down your student loans as much as you intended? Do you have a budget? Can you really afford to live on your own?

Repaying your college loans — how much for how long? Taking more time may lower your monthly payment slightly, but it can increase the cost in interest substantially.

Often, people get places of their own when they receive pay increases. Whatever signals your big move, promise yourself to keep up the good habits you developed while you had a lower cost of living.

The good news is that you have many years for investing. But you can expect the markets to go through many ups and downs along the way, which can be nerve-racking. Consider an investment mix with enough potential long-term growth to meet your goals

What other short-, medium- and long-term goals do you need to save for? You might be planning to buy a house or start a business. Consider these ideas for reaching your goals:

Build regular savings into your budget. Experts often recommend that you save 10% of your income, but you may need more, depending on your goals.

Plan now to set aside at least part of future bonuses, pay raises, tax refunds and unexpected windfalls for your goals.

Choose your investment strategy according to each goal’s timeline. Match a short-term goal with a short-term strategy, such as bank CDs or money market funds. Match a long-term goal with a long-term strategy, such as an after-tax investment account.

These ideas are designed to help you take charge of your financial life, but managing your money is a lifelong task. We hope we’ve helped get you started.

(A Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisor. She can be reached at 410-213-8520.)

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