Ladies and Gentlemen, for the first time since I started college, my net worth is NOT red! I missed the date by about 2 weeks, but I had an unplanned vacation and got my tuition reimbursement later than anticipated.
What does it mean? Well I started my first full time "real" about 1 year ago. I was flat broke--I spent my last semester studying abroad and by the time I arived back in the good old USA, my bank account was EMPTY plus I owed my dad $500!!
Then there were the student loans. I had about 22k in subsidized stafford government loans (still have most of that!) and another 6k or so in alternative loans (mainly due to study abroad). So I was not only broke, I had negative money.
After a couple weeks staying with a friend, I moved into my own apartment. There were some good deals--the deposit was low and I got a month free, so that didn't hurt much. My parents gave me a new bed (mattress and box spring, at least) as a graduation present (thanks!), but other than that, I was essentially furniture-less, save the old TV my parents had given me a few years back. Slowly, I populated my small apartment. The furniture wasn't really high end, nor was it junk--I got a lot of nice stuff at an overstock store
I opened a high interest savings account and started putting what I could into that. I countinued to use the Discover card I'd had for years, paying the balance each month and earning rewards.
Within the first 6 months, I paid off the alternative student loans (the interest rate was around 7% they were a high priority). I also have been contributing about 10-15% to my 401k (with 3/4 match on the first 8%). After the first 6 months, I decided to open a Roth IRA rather than focusing on the loans--the rest are at 4.25% but actually, zero percent since I took 6 credits of graduate credits and qualiffied as a half time student.
Now I have 3500 in my Roth IRA, 11,000 in my 401k, and about 6500 in my savings accounts. I still have about 20k in student loans (ouch!), which I plan to pay 4k on at the end of the year (once they start accruing interest again). Sure, financially it may be better to invest the money. Psychologically, I'm dying to make a dent in them.
Also, $100 per a paycheck has been going into my Health Savings account. I don't count that as part of anything, as it is basically my health insurance. The good news is, that won't be coming out anymore after the next paycheck, as I'll have reached my maximum contribution for the year, freeing up 200 (pretax) extra a month for extra savings. I'll dump the difference into savings, as I'm slightly behind on my savings goals.
So in one year I have paid 8k in debt, accumalated 6.5k in non-retirement savings, and accumlated 14.5k in retirement savings (with the help of company match), all while establishing a home in a new city. Not a bad start to the career!
So far my goals only run though December--this is intentional, as I will moving to Los Angeles right around there, and haven't found my future job yet. But I can only hope next year is as financially productive as this year!