“Don’t give into the comparisons and try to one up your classmate. You will thank yourself over and over in the years to come for making smart decisions early on. You will not remember that handbag you “had” to have or that drive-thru meal for the fourth time that week. What you will love in the future are those good decisions and habits that freed up your money for a memorable trip or being able to put a down payment on a home that is truly yours. You’ll love the feeling knowing your retirement savings is working for you because you started so early!

“I picked a big goal and every time I was tempted to spend on something I didn’t NEED, I’d ask myself “Do I want this ice cream or do I want to visit Iceland?” That snapped me back into reality really quick because, of course, I would trade an ice cream cone for a trip of a lifetime! It all adds up. Fill in the blank with your goal. Make the sacrifices early on to reach your dreams. This is all learned behavior. If you haven’t been taught these tactics or principles, ask for education. Need help with budgeting or reassurance you’re taking the right route? Talk to a financial planner. Someone that will incorporate your whole financial picture into a roadmap for you.”

—Laura Thompson, Northwestern Mutual financial advisor based in southern Indiana and volunteer instructor for Financial Peace University

“Looking back at my time as a young adult with college debt, I wish I would have met with a financial advisor when I started my first job. The financial choices made early in your career affect your financial future for many years to come. It was the advice and actions recommended to me by my financial advisor that helped put me on a path of financial success and made me want to become a financial advisor.”

—Rachel Weaver, Edward Jones financial advisor, based in the Fountain Square neighborhood of Indianapolis