Northwestern Mutual

Getting Your First Job

It's never too soon to establish a plan for your financial future.

Getting Your First Job

Welcome to the workforce! Now that you've got your first job, you no doubt have big dreams and lofty goals. You need to ensure you can achieve them. By taking the first steps now, you'll be setting yourself up for a lifetime of financial security.

Start by making your work, work for you. If your employer offers a qualified retirement savings account, such as a 401(k), take advantage of the opportunity to save for the future, especially if your employer offers a company match­­. It's free money that grows tax deferred.

Changing Jobs

Other financial planning priorities you may want to consider as you start your career:

  • Protect your income. When you're just starting out, your ability to earn an income is your greatest asset. Protect it. If disability income insurance is offered through your employer, take advantage of the opportunity and the group rate that may be offered. However, group plans usually cover only a portion of your income. So to fully protect yourself, you may want to consider a supplemental individual policy. An individual policy is also portable. Because you own it, the policy can move with you from job to job as long as you pay the premium. An individual policy can also be a great way to protect your income if you're self-employed. Learn More.
  • Pay down debt. For some, the concept of being debt free is hard to imagine, particularly if you're paying off student loans on an entry-level salary. Instead of feeling buried under debt, you can feel good about managing it by setting a realistic budget. Learn More.
  • Establish an emergency fund. Include in your monthly budget a contribution toward your emergency fund, because no matter how carefully you may plan your finances, there can be unexpected expenses like car repairs or veterinarian bills. Aim for a total of three to six months of living expenses. Learn More.
  • Establish the fundamentals of an estate plan.1  Estate planning is not just for the rich and famous. Make sure you have in place these fundamental pieces of an estate plan:
  • NM-Planning Pyramid
    • Powers of attorney: Identify persons you trust and give them the legal authority to act on your behalf in case of an accident or sudden illness. A power of attorney for health care can make health care decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so yourself. And a durable power of attorney for finances allows that person to handle your personal financial affairs like signing checks and preparing tax returns.
    • Health care directive or living will: A living will specifies the extent to which you want health care professionals to treat you if you become ill or incapacitated.
    • A will or trust: A will or trust will ensure that your assets will be transferred to the right people, at the right time, according to your wishes.
    • Learn More.
  • Protect the financial future of your loved ones. Consider purchasing a life insurance policy to make sure they're taken care of after you're gone. While that may seem too far into the future to worry about, the time to purchase life insurance is when you're young and healthy because the cost of coverage typically rises as you get older. As an added benefit, whole (or permanent) life insurance also builds equity - or cash value - that can grow tax deferred and becomes a source of funding you can utilize2 easily; no credit checks, no applications, no waiting for approval. Of course, if you borrow against the cash value and don't pay it back (with interest), the amount of the loan would be deducted from the amount your beneficiary would receive in the event of death.

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The Northwestern Mutual Difference

Financial planning is an evolving process. As your circumstances change over time, we’ll help to ensure your financial plan is adjusted, too, so you’ll stay on track to meet your goals.