I'm 22, graduated college last June, and entered the work force in July. Between that time in this, I've taken quite an interest in Personal Finance and am thinking just as much as the future as I am about now each and every day. I'm extremely lucky in the event that I graduated college entirely debt free. (I grew up in a family that preached saving and investing -- my grandpa opened a small fund at a ridiculous 18% interest when I was born, hello tuition).
I found myself a gig in IT Consulting, a great growing company with a decent starting rate ($47,000/year with solid benefits), and opportunity to grow my career. I like my job quite a bit, I like the company I work for quite a bit, and I like the ability to learn something new, everyday. I told myself that I would live quite frugally for a year and really decide where my money should and could go before I dig myself into a hole that I don't want to get into.
When my last roommate said he was transferring to a different school, instead of getting my own place that I knew I could afford (but not save that much -- I need to feel like I am BUILDING for something), I took a different friend up on an offer, to rent a room in their house for a mere 450$/mo with Utilities split 5 ways. This hasn't been my ideal living situation, but it's been fun and really allowed me to get things moving on the right foot financially and to learn about what I can do with my money. I have a lease here until August, then I will move on and probably pay near double for a place of my own. This will be difficult to adjust to.
I drive an older car (93 Civic) that is cheap on insurance, great on gas, and is entirely paid off, so I don't have to worry about a car payment. A new (well, gently used -- I'll let somebody else take that deprecation hit) car will be in my future in the next few years, but I am hoping to drive the Civ until she can't go on no more. I've been doing a lot of research and building my credit (I graduated with next to nothing) so when the day comes I should be in good shape.
I started funding my 401(k) right off the bat: 7%. I told myself when my employee contribution of 3% hit that would give me a solid 10% and that would be good for a while... when I thought my employee match started at 6 months. Turns out, it didn't, and it's 12 months instead (so, it'll start in July). This made me look into Roth IRAs (This site was so useful, thank you!), so I threw my tax return and some savings to max out 2007 in one shot and have setup automatic monthly contributions for 2008 instead of funding my 401(k). I will resume funding the 401(k) enough to get the full employer match as soon as that kicks in. The ability to use my Roth IRA as a means to buy a first house is enticing, although I will hope that it doesn't come to that, but it's good to have options, it doesn't appear as if I'll ever regret opening my Roth IRA, so I'm glad I've got the Roth going to let time work it's magic. I hope to fully fund my Roth IRA in 2008 as well as get maximum contribution from my employer on my 401(k).
I've made a budget and kept it, living well inside my means (I live on about half of what I make), and I've built a nice $9,000 cushion (ING Direct) on top of the ~$4,000 in my Roth IRA (Sharebuilder). I laugh at others my age who have their paycheck accounted for before it gets in their hands or have fallen thousands of dollars in debt due to frivolous spending. I've made some large purchases (new computer, Plasma TV), but these are my hobbies and bought quality and sought out good deals to enjoy them for years to come.
I hope to update this as time goes on as my career grows and big decisions dealing with money arise, as well as to read over my past thoughts to keep myself disciplined as I grow my career and life ahead. Now, to get that mid-year promotion...