How would I spend my first paycheck?

If today was the day I got my first paycheck, and knowing what I know today, here's what I would do with it:

First, I would contribute to my employer-sponsored 401(k) plan. I would put as much as my employer's match to my 401(k) plan. In other words, if my employer's match amounts to $2,000 annually, then that is exactly how much I will put in my 401(k).

Next, I would open a Roth IRA account and fund it 100%. Currently, you can put $5,500 if you are under 50 years old and $6,500 if you are over 50. By the way, Roth IRA is primarily a retirement vehicle but can also serve as an emergency fund.

Third, I would open a money-market account. I would put in about $100-200 / month. Why? If I got my first paycheck today, it's likely I am in my late teens or early 20's. I will probably buy a house in the next 5-10-15 years. This account is to help me build my down payment for the house.

Hint: A good financial planner anticipates future situations and plans accordingly.

Lastly, I would figure out how to live on the remainder of the money and also save some of it for my "wants" in life.

Don't think you can do all this on your salary? Get another job. Did you know that Jay Leno always had 2 jobs throughout his life? He saves the earnings of one job and lives on the earnings of the other job. Even as a talk-show host, he had two jobs. He lived on money he earned from his comedy gigs and socked away his earnings from the talk-show.


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