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While students are gearing up to head back to campus this month, many from the Class of 2014 are taking on a new challenge: their first full-time jobs.
If you've landed your first job, congratulations! In addition to your new title, new workplace and new lifestyle, your job also gives you a golden opportunity to start your adult life on firm financial ground. Here's a checklist of five smart money moves to put into practice now if you want to make the most of your income.
Smart move No. 1: Get a firm grip on your wallet
"One of the biggest financial mistakes people make when starting a new job is overspending, especially if it is their first (job)," says David Bakke, contributor to the personal finance site MoneyCrashers.com. "It can be very tempting to spend money on items you probably don't need when you have a significant paycheck coming in for the first time."
Avoid the impulse to run out and buy a new flat-screen TV, tablet or smart phone. In addition, new workers should be careful not to fall into the trap of immediately buying a new car or even a house simply because their income now makes them eligible for a loan. A better option is to wait until you have accumulated some savings before making a major purchase or going on a spending spree.
It's also much easier to live within your means if you implement smart money move No. 2.
Smart move No. 2: Break out your calculator
They're not sexy or necessarily much fun, but a budget is your best friend when it comes to being financially successful. Matthew Boersen, a certified financial planner with Straight Path Wealth Management in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says he prefers a method of money management that relies on ratios.