Personal Finance

Start out by taking care of budget basics

  • Stay smart: live within your budget, save money and stay out of debt are three pieces of advice for graduates beginning their adult life

Dear Dave,

I just graduated from college, and Iíll be starting my first real job soon. What can young adults, who are just getting started, do to avoid money problems now and in the future?


Dear Ben,

Congratulations. Iím glad you realise the importance of being responsible with your money and planning for things down the road.

There are three or four important things a recent college graduate ó or anyone, really ó can do to make the most of their money and protect themselves financially. The first is to always live on budget. When you write down a budget on paper, and give every dollar a name before the month begins, it helps you know what your money is doing instead of leaving you in a situation where youíre wondering where it went.

Two more important practices are saving money and staying out of debt. Your income is your biggest wealth-building tool. When youíre saddled with debt, your money goes to creditors instead of into your pocket. Saving money prepares you for all the things life will throw at you ó both good and bad.

One more thing Iíd include is investing. I know youíre young, but you still need to think about life after retirement. If you start investing just a little bit each month now in good mutual funds, you could easily retire a millionaire.

These are all very simple, basic things, Ben. But theyíll make a huge difference in your financial situation now and in the years to come.


Dear Dave,

How do you have a wedding without debt?


Dear Brooklyn,

Itís pretty simple. To have a wedding without debt you must be creative and think within your budget. In other words, you pay for a wedding with the money you have.

Thereís absolutely nothing wrong with a small, inexpensive wedding. Once you realise and understand that fact, and start thinking about things with a budget in mind, youíll realise you can scrimp and save and still have a great small wedding. Lots of people have beautiful ceremonies, and even small receptions, for well under $1,000.

Sure, you can go into debt by renting the fanciest venue, and buying a $9,000 wedding dress to wear for just a few hours on one day. Or, you can realise itís not the place and the clothes that make a wedding special. What about an outdoor wedding at a friend or family memberís house? When it comes to a dress you can opt for something simple and inexpensive, or even one that has been worn once, for just a few hundred dollars. If you think thatís awful, let me tell you something thatís worse ó going tens of thousands of dollars into debt for an event that lasts just a few hours!

Most people donít have lavish, expensive weddings, and guess what? Years down the road theyíre still happily married, very much in love, and they look back on their wedding as the best day of their lives.


Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven bestselling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 14 million listeners each week on 585 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.