Starting Your Career

Now that you’ve graduated, it’s time to take responsibility for your own financial life. You have a great opportunity to get a healthy start – or restart – by establishing good financial habits that will help you achieve financial independence and success throughout your life. We can help you get started on the right path.

First Midwest Steps to Starting Your Career 

Call 800-241-1749 to talk to your First Midwest Banker today.

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Manage Credit Wisely

You may already have some debt on your plate, such as student loans, or balances on credit cards you have not paid down. If that’s the case, it’s important to manage your debt effectively to avoid late fees, penalties and excess interest charges, and maintain your ability to secure credit when you need it. If you currently do not have any loans or credit cards, you will want to start establishing credit in your own name. Your First Midwest Banker can help you start your financial life off on the right foot.

  • Pay credit card bills promptly to avoid late fees and to reduce your average daily balances, so interest charges don’t get out of control.
  • If you have credit cards that carry high interest rates, try to negotiate a lower rate from the issuing banks, or transfer your balances to cards with lower interest rates and fees.
  • Make sure you read the fine print on all credit card offers to understand exactly what can happen after that low introductory rate expires.
  • If you can’t pay off the balance on your credit card bills each month, try to at least make more than minimum payments, or it might take decades to repay what you owe.
  • Watch your debt-to-income ratio. You shouldn’t be paying more than 15 percent of your take-home pay on credit cards, car payments and other consumer debt (not including a home mortgage).
  • Check your credit report for errors and evidence of identity theft, something you can do for free once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • Know your credit score, the important three-digit number (between 300 and 850) that determines how easily, and at what interest rate, you will be able to secure new loans and other financing.
  • Many employers now check applicants’ credit reports as part of the hiring process, so it’s important to know what your credit report says about you.
  • Keep a list of your credit cards in a safe, accessible place in case the cards are lost or stolen, with account numbers and the contact information of issuing banks.

If you have a poor credit history, there are ways to fix it. Try obtaining a small secured bank loan or a credit card, for which you deposit money with the lender to guarantee the credit line. If you make your scheduled payments on time you will begin improving your credit record by building a new credit history.

Don’t hire a credit repair firm that promises to make past credit problems disappear. These companies can’t do anything for you that you can’t do for yourself at little or no cost. Be especially wary of any organization that offers to create a new identity and credit file for you, which is illegal.

Call 800-241-1749 to talk to your First Midwest Banker today.

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Create a Savings Strategy and Follow Through

Financial planners advise having the equivalent of at least three months’ worth of expenses in a savings account. That’s not something most people can do all at once, but if you put away at least a little every month, you will get there.

  • It’s best to try to live on less money than you take home from your job so you can start saving for emergencies, or for big purchases such as your first home or a new car.
  • Start by tracking your income and spending for a few months, to see exactly where you’re spending your money now.
  • Take a critical look at the information you’ve gathered and look for areas where you can easily cut back without feeling much of an impact. Something as simple as cutting back on your morning latte or bringing your lunch to work a few days a week, or just putting your pocket change in a jar every day, can really add up to significant savings.
  • Make saving simple and painless by setting up an automatic transfer from checking to savings each month with your bank, or have savings automatically deducted from your paycheck by your employer if that option is available.
  • Think of savings as a monthly expense just like your rent or car payment, and pay yourself first. If you never have the money “in hand” you’ll never miss it.

Call 800-241-1749 to talk to your First Midwest Banker today.

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Start Investing for Your Future Now

It may seem strange to think about retirement when you’re first starting out in your career. But this is absolutely the time to do it. The earlier you start, the easier it will be to accumulate enough money to give you freedom of choice when you reach retirement age. See "Retirement Planning – Getting Started" for plenty of great advice.

Call 800-241-1749 to talk to your First Midwest Banker today.

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Make Sure You Have the Insurance You Need

  • Health insurance may be a top priority for recent graduates who may no longer be covered by their parents’ policy. If health benefits are not immediately available through an employer, you’ll need to purchase an individual policy to avoid gaps in coverage.
  • Everyone who owns or rents a home should have property insurance or renter’s insurance to insure your personal property against loss or theft.
  • If you’re married and/or have dependents, think about life insurance products that can protect the ones you love.

Call 800-241-1749 to talk to your First Midwest Banker today.

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