First and foremost, it's time to congratulate all of 2024's graduates on a job well done. You invested the hours, you put the work in, and you finally have that diploma in your hand. What an accomplishment! Let me be one of the first to congratulate you on your success.

This is a wonderful time of celebration. Don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back. You worked so hard. You deserve to enjoy this milestone moment.

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It's important, however, to not let the celebrations continue for too long. If you've just graduated from college, you're an adult now. Whether you're moving out on your own to truly start living an adult lifestyle or you're moving back in with mom and dad, there's one thing that you should establish regardless of your post-graduate situation.


Experts say all graduates MUST set up a retirement fund after graduation

Let's delve into why it's crucial to start saving for retirement as soon as possible. It is of the utmost importance to ensure yourself a stable financial future. While none of us are able to stack away funds like they did back in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and even the early 2000s, it's still smart to start putting away SOMETHING every month.

If you don't have the option to invest in a 401k right now, don't panic. There are PLENTY of other ways you can start investing in your future for when you have to live on a fixed budget. The earlier you start investing, the more time your money has to grow. When you invest early, your money earns returns, and those returns in turn earn returns. Even a small amount invested early can grow into a substantial chunk of change over several decades.


Alternative IRA options for college graduates

So, you don't have a full-time job waiting for you immediately after graduation. That's okay! You can just open yourself up an IRA! An IRA is an individual retirement account. There are 2 types of IRAs most commonly used:

1.) Traditional IRA: Good news! Contributions you make to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible! Not always, though. For this type of IRA, earnings grow tax-deferred until withdrawal.

2.) Roth IRA: Unlike a traditional IRA, contributions to a Roth IRA are NOT tax-deductible. However, qualified withdrawals, including earnings, are tax-free in retirement. Roth IRAs also offer more flexibility for withdrawals before retirement age. That's why you see more and more twenty-somethings going the Roth route.


Regardless of which investment plan you choose, it's important to keep in mind you shouldn't be banking on Social Security money to sustain you in your geriatric years.

Social Security may not provide as secure of a safety net in the future as it has in the past. While it's unlikely to disappear entirely, there are concerns about its sustainability given demographic shifts. Relying solely on Social Security may not be enough to maintain your standard of living in retirement, making personal savings all the more important!

LOOK: Best counties to retire to in New Jersey

Stacker compiled a list of the best counties to retire in New Jersey using data from Niche.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

LOOK: This is what you now need to retire comfortably in every U.S. State

Go Banking Rates analyzed financial data to determine how much is necessary to retire across the nation, factoring in groceries, housing, transportation, healthcare costs, and more. Plus, what an additional $1 Million in savings would look like.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

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