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Monday, June 30, 2008

What I Wish I Had Known

At work, there has been an influx of fresh faced young employees over the past few weeks. Some just out of college, others just out of grad school. I’m enjoying meeting all these new people, and it’s always great to have new, enthusiastic employees.

There has been a lot of talk as of late as to what sort of personal finance information recent college grads and recent high school grads should know, and as I watched these new employees arrive, I started to think about what I did and didn’t know when I started my first job after college.

I was lucky in that I knew a fair bit about personal finance when I first started working. I had held a credit card for four years, I was good about paying my bills, and I understood the benefits of a 401(k) plan. I didn’t contribute to my employer’s 401(k) plan at my first job for a few reasons – I knew I was leaving in a year to go to grad school, and I needed every penny for grad school, and they didn’t start matching until you had worked there for over a year, so I knew I would never meet eligibility.

Perhaps not the best decision, but not a bad decision and not one I regret. The one thing I wish I had known though was that I could contribute to a Roth IRA. I really didn’t learn about Roth IRAs until I was 26. I could have made contributions to that instead. Sure, I did need money for grad school, but I could have contributed a few hundred dollars at least. I didn’t make much during grad school, and again, I needed that money to pay for fun things like textbooks, but I wonder how much a few hundred dollars might have grown over the years.

I’m not sure how I missed the boat on Roth IRAs. And I don’t think that not contributing for those few years really hurt, because the contributions wouldn’t have been huge. But I still suggest Roth IRAs whenever I get the chance.

Abundant Life Spending Spree - $1600

$1600 would go to a year long gym membership along with a bunch of personal training sessions. I've been sick the past few weeks and I can tell by how my clothes fit that I'm quickly falling out of shape. I could use someone to kick me into gear!

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