First off, congratulations to recent college and high school graduates. Now, letís really get down to business.

Tough as the job market is out there, I have confidence most of you will land a position that will provide not only a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day, but also a decent paycheck at the end of the week.


First off, congratulations to recent college and high school graduates. Now, letís really get down to business.

Tough as the job market is out there, I have confidence most of you will land a position that will provide not only a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day, but also a decent paycheck at the end of the week.

Donít lose faith if youíre still searching. Although you may change jobs or careers several times during your working life, try hard to find something you think youíll love doing; that significantly increases your chances at success.

Your initial response to new cash flow may be ďGreat, how can I spend it?Ē But Iím here to tell you it is never too early to start managing your money.

A good way to begin is by creating a budget. Determine your expenses ó including rent, utilities, food, student loans, car payments, etc. Next, factor in the amount of time you have to pay off some of these items. Break expenses into fixed and variable categories. Fixed items are ones that stay the same monthly, such as rent and utilities. Variables are those that change, such as food, gas, entertainment.

If youíre starting out with sizeable debt from credit cards and have a history of making minimum payments, then I have a few strong words of advice ó break that habit now. Minimum payments take next to forever to clear a balance, and the amount lost to interest is astronomical.

Once you have a stable income, itís time to set a savings plan in motion.

Creating an automatic savings plan where a set amount is directly deposited to a bank account is the most practical approach. Not only will you have established a consistent method of saving for future large ticket items or to pay off loans down the road, you will also enjoy the comfort of an emergency fund.

No article on saving for the future would be complete without a few words about retirement. I know, youíre barely in your 20s and I have you thinking about 40 or 50 years from now. But if you begin setting aside even a slight amount each week, youíll be surprised how quickly it will add up. And by all means, if your company offers an employer-funded retirement plan, like a 401(k) with a matching provision, sign up. The sooner you do, the better prepared you will be for your future.

John P. Napolitano is the CEO of U.S. Wealth Management in Braintree, Mass. E-mail him at biznews@ledger.com.