Student loans, retirement or your first home: Where should your money go?

Recent college grad? Getting proactive about your finances?

No matter your situation, saving money for long-term goals (aka, “adult stuff”) is tricky on a limited budget. So-called experts tell you to put X dollars away for retirement by Y age, but the reality is this: everyone’s finances are different.

So rather than offering a one-size-fits-all solution, here are a few suggestions to help ensure that your personal financial future stays secure.

Review future plans

What are your priorities? Do you aim to settle down in one place for a long period of time, or would you rather travel and work remotely? Answering these questions can help you determine if buying a home is even something you need to put on your financial radar.

Just remember, saving up for a big purchase like a home may take a long time. You can always decide you want to buy later, but it could delay your goal by several years.

Compare interest rates

The bad news is your student loans probably aren’t going away by themselves. But the good news is that the interest on federal loans is typically pretty low.

If your student-debt interest is five percent or less, you may consider paying smaller amounts every month and re-directing the extra money to saving for a home, or another long-term goal.

Open a retirement account—no matter what

No matter how long you intend to work or how much you care about money, at some point you’ll want to retire—and you’ll need to support yourself.

The thing about retirement accounts is they pay off over time. That means the earlier you invest, the more you’ll get later. If you’re a late starter, you can always catch up, but if you’re young, open an account now and begin making deposits as early as possible.

Even if you’re new to the workforce and can only put away a small amount every month, your future self will thank you.

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