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!


Paddy Hirsch May 3, 2013 Senior Editor, Marketplace
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?