We first published Alex Hatzenbuhler’s story in 2016. It’s a story that every 23-year-old needs to read. (Heck, it’s a story most people twice that age should read!) So here it is, again. If you want to learn more about Alex and his money story, you’ll find more about him in Jesse’s new book, You Need a Budget.
Now, Let’s Meet Alex
Alex Hatzenbuhler, 23, graduated from college in June 2015 and got his first real job. And subsequently, his first real budget. Both have worked out quite well.
After talking with Alex a little bit, I realized his story was almost a little too boring because he is just doing everything right.
He is aware of his spending, budgeting, and saving. (And for those of us who didn’t figure it out at 23, almost a little bit annoying?)
So I asked Alex what advice he’d give to new college grads. I love what he had to share because it is good, solid advice, and the actual things he has just done (and is still doing) to great success. At 23. And so I present to you:
The Alex Hatzenbuhler Guide to Adulting
Home Sweet Home.
If you can stay with your parents after college, do it! It is a temporary strategy, but even if you are only there six months, you will save a lot! It’s a great way to get a little bit of a head start financially.
Get Your Head In The Game.
Go check out the Personal Finance Subreddit. It is a great place for financial resources. You’re guaranteed to find something useful (this isn’t just for college kids!) You will learn a lot, be encouraged and it will help you keep the big picture in perspective.
Benefit From Benefits.
If you get a “grown-up” job with benefits, spend the time to understand every last one! Starting a 401k when you’re young is a huge advantage—compound interest is your best friend. Also, most companies will give you a match! If you don’t contribute at least your match percentage, you are literally throwing away free money. Take advantage of everything!
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.
Most financial planners will give a free consultation. It might feel like this is unnecessary because you are young and don’t actually have any money yet, but this is the best time! They will save you from mistakes and set you up to make the best possible decisions. They will help with lots of different areas of your life than just investments. My financial planner has helped me with lots of different areas of my life beyond investments, and given me great advice that I will benefit from forever!
Death To Student Debt.
It will feel like you want to drag your feet on this, or that it’s just too big to tackle, but pay off your student debt as quickly as you can. Being done with your student loans is one of the most liberating feelings in the world!
Budget, Budget, Budget.
Use YNAB. Read all of their documentation. Email their support if you need help. This one is required.
Invest Like It’s 2016.
There are a whole bunch of apps that make investing so easy and approachable like Robinhood, Wealthfront, and Personal Capital. I have a $100 deposit go directly to Wealthfront every week. You don’t need thousands of dollars to start investing. You just start a little bit at a time. (Editor’s Note: The YNAB Team are big fans of Betterment.)
Sweat The Small Stuff.
Find a bank account that has a good interest rate. Some credit unions offer 1% interest on checking accounts. The credit union I use through work has a 2% interest rate. Free money!
Credit Cards Should Reward You.
Do an assessment of your credit cards. If you have a credit card that doesn’t have rewards, go find one with rewards! The Citi Double Cash card has 2% back on everything you buy! More free money!