Start Working On Your Other Portfolio

Here's another thing you won't learn in portfolio school:

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!
So when you're filling out the ream of paperwork HR will give you on your first day, indicate that you'd like to contribute to a 401(k). Find out how much the company will match and have at least that much of your paycheck put into the account. (And I recommend anytime you receive a raise, increase your contributions by at least 1%.)

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.