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Question: New college grad: How to save my money?

I'm graduating with a BS in Chemical Engineering this year. I have a job lined up in the Twin Cities, MN where I will be working for a company I love and finally making money to pay off student loans (salary ~$55,000/yr before taxes). My question to you is: how should I be handling my money while working?

I will be renting for a few years before (hopefully) having enough saved up to put a down payment on a home. Realistically, what portion of my salary is appropriate to spend on living during these few years, and how much should I be saving for my home down payment?

How quickly should I be paying off student loans? Is this an area that should take priority over others?

How much money should I then be putting away? Retirement plans, investments, emergency funds, etc. How much should I try to save for "fun" things? A new road bike, baseball games, travel, etc.

Are there other areas that I'm also completely neglecting when considering this? I haven't had much experience with finances, and I'm really looking for all the help I can get! Any advice would be great. Bear in mind, I grew up a farm boy, so luxury/expensive hobbies/etc. are not a part of my background. I would just like to live comfortably and plan appropriately for the future.

Let me know what you think and if there's any advice you have for a guy finally getting out into the real world. Thanks!

Response:

Hey Marketplace Money Fans! While we wait for our experts to chime in on this question, share your thoughts in our comments section. What advice would you give to a new college grad about how to budget, save and pay off debt?

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