As soon as you land your first job, begin investing immediately in your 401(k).
This is a big enough deal that I think it's worth breaking format to mention on a blog about advertising and putting your book together. At the risk of sounding like a banker, here's a brief explanation (don't wade through Wikipedia on this one):
- A 401(k) is a retirement plan held by your company. Usually through someone like Fidelity or Vanguard.
- You choose a certain amount from your paycheck to be deposited into your 401(k).
- That money is invested into a collection of stocks, bonds and mutual funds of your choosing from a list of options within the company's plan.
- Most companies will match your contribution to a certain extent (usually 5%).
- That means if you're making $30,000, and putting 5% ($1500) in your 401(k), you're getting an extra $1500 a year from your company. Free money!
Yes, paying off debt and student loans is important. Yes, the economy is awful right now. But you absolutely need to do this. Just because you're a creative type doesn't mean you can't be smart about your own future.
I recommend the following books to anyone starting out on a career who knows absolutely nothing about money:
Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson
Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach
You may also want to check out this, this, and this.