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by Northwestern Mutual | May 12, 2021


It’s never too soon to start planning for your future. The earlier you start the planning process, the better off you will be in the long run. At Northwestern Mutual, we help people achieve their dreams through holistic financial planning, and we can help you build a foundation for your financial future with some tips below.

  1. Get to know your financial style

Everyone is different in the way they approach their finances.

Goal-setters place priority on financial well-being, have financial goals and already have detailed plans to achieve those goals. Procrastinators understand what makes for financial health, but find themselves putting off financial tasks and need to consciously put more effort into taking action. Dreamers know what they want—from cars and vacations to housing—but feel like they won’t achieve these goals and don’t know where to start. And, pretenders tend to live for today and often don’t concern themselves with the future because they feel things will work out.

Think about what type of planner you are so you can evaluate your habits and start creating a plan that fits your style.

  1. Start a budget

Creating a budget is one of the first steps you can take to become more financially responsible. Establishing a budget allows you to see what you’re spending versus what you think you may be spending. It can also give you a clear picture of all your expenses and help you set a realistic savings goal. Once you create your budget, it’s important to exercise self-discipline to stay on track with your savings and spending goals. Free apps such as “You Need a Budget” and “Mint” can help you establish good habits when it comes to spending and saving. 

  1. Know what to expect after graduation

Once you leave the stage with your diploma, the next chapter of your life begins, and trying to figure out your next step can be challenging. Here are a few things to consider when starting your job search:

  • Ask the company what kind of benefits they have, and make sure you are leveraging what they have to offer. Maxing out a 401K early in your career can help you in retirement.
  • Build good debt. Student loans, mortgages, and business loans are types of debt that can help build wealth over time. Also, work to eliminate bad debt like credit card debt that has a negative impact on your overall finances.
  • Plan for your yearly expenses – even upcoming trips, new professional attire, and weddings. Those new costs can start to add up.
  1. Start planning

Create short, mid, and long-term goals to help you plan for the days ahead. What personal, professional, and financial goals do you see for yourself next year? Five years from now?

  • Short-Term: Think of this as a rainy-day fund—a way to reward yourself—and try to limit its size to avoid overspending on frivolous activities.
  • Mid-Term: This is your fund for bigger purchases in life such as a down payment on a house, a new car, or perhaps a big family vacation.
  • Long-Term: This is your “future fund.” The money in this fund is savings for retirement or education for your children.              
  1. Look for opportunities to grow your income

While your 401(K) or home investment is very important, your ability to earn an income is your most important asset—and as you get older, the potential to earn more increases. When conducting your job search, keep the following in mind:

  • Plan for the compensation structure you want
  • Understand the total benefits package
  • Know how pay increases work
  • Do research and be ready to negotiate 

As you head out into the real world and build your career with these financial tips, you’ll have a better understanding of your income and expenses along the way. However, life tends to throw curveballs at you when you least expect it. That’s why you should consider finding a trusted financial representative that aligns with your personal philosophy and work with them to help you build a robust financial plan. With a guiding financial plan, you’ll always know where you’re headed, even when the unexpected happens.

No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss. All investing carries some risk, including loss of principal invested.

To learn more about Northwestern Mutual and our financial services, visit

This article is sponsored by the Northwestern Mutual Internship program, which ranks No. 3 in the Best Financial Services Internships for 2021.