My Tomorrow: Real World Roadmap

The Hartford

Real World Roadmap

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First Job

First Job

1 Use your career center and alumni groups — even after graduation.
  • Whether you are looking for that first job after graduation or out in the job market looking for the next move, take advantage of the resources your university provides. The career center can be a key contact because it spends time every single day building relationships with local, national, and international employers in fields across the board – for you! To really get the most out of the career center, review all info on its website and follow the center on social media. Also, set up a one-on-one appointment to review your résumé, take a career assessment test and practice a mock interview.
  • Don't forget to look into alumni networks offered by your university. Alumni post their contact information and are often willing to advise younger alumni and answer questions. Don't be shy about reaching out!
2 Do your research — on industries, companies, and interviewers.
  • Whether you are looking to enter the job market and aren't sure what industry, or are about to interview with a specific company, never forget the value of research. Study the various industries you are interested in and what type of work each one requires by visiting websites, such as WetFeet.com, Vault.com and QuintCareers.com.
  • Always research the company with which you are interviewing. Not only does this demonstrate true interest in the company, culture, and the position, but it will also help you ask relevant, insightful questions. Scour the company's website. Review the mission statement, executive biographies, and the 'about us' section to learn the company's core values, leadership, and history. Also be sure to follow the company on all social media to track its daily news and updates.
  • If you have the names of those who will be interviewing you, visit LinkedIn®, the professional social network, to check out their work history, what they work on, and what you might have in common with them. Finding images of the interviewer(s) can also make the process less intimidating.
3 During your job search, determine what benefits make your dream job your dream job.
  • If you're currently employed, figure out exactly what you would like to change about your job and what benefits you would like your next job to offer. For example, if you don't like your current long hours, then you should look for a company that offers a work-life balance or flex time. Other benefits you may want to look for in a new employer could include tuition reimbursement, 401(k) matching, gym memberships, social gatherings, and creative culture. Look beyond your paycheck: Consider benefits such as disability or life insurance as part of your total compensation. Take time to learn the value of every benefit that is offered!
  • Don't miss out on the chance to opt in to disability insurance, which can keep a paycheck coming in if you miss work due to an illness or off-the-job injury. These benefits can help protect your paycheck against situations as common as missing work because of a hurt back. You can help take control and plan for your future by signing up for protection during benefits enrollment.
4 Build a fresh network to help you during your job transition.
  • If you decide to change jobs or industries, talk to anyone and everyone who works in that field. Ask people out for coffee, attend networking events, and ask everyone you know for referrals. And don't worry about only connecting with high-level people. Sometimes recent grads just a few years older than you can offer the best advice and insight.
  • Then, interview these people about how they got started, what experiences are "musts" in their industries or at their companies, how much you can expect to earn, what experience you should highlight on your résumé, and what social networks are essential to join. Most people will be happy to share their wisdom as long as you're polite and show your gratitude. (Just remember to send a "thank you" note afterwards!)
  • If you are considering a career or industry change, also consider reaching out to your university career center. Most career centers are available for free to alumni and willing to help provide other alumni contacts or advice on making the transition. Join your school's LinkedIn network and engage in discussions with fellow alums.
5 Give yourself a safety net because you work hard for your money.
  • Once you've nailed your first job, be smart about protecting yourself. Most employers allow employees the opportunity to opt in to benefits (called voluntary benefits), such as disability insurance. Why might you need this? Because you never know what could happen. Think of it as a safety net while you're recovering from an off-the-job injury or illness — like a broken leg from a winter ski trip — and it also can provide resources, such as physical therapy to help get you back to work. The Hartford's survey found that younger workers without disability insurance would likely dip into their 401(k), get a loan from family, or move in with relatives if a health issue kept them from working.
  • Disability insurance can cover more than what people typically think. In addition to maternity leave, it can also cover more common health issues, such as back injuries and broken bones. And it may be more affordable than you think; The Hartford Benefits For Tomorrow Study* found that 56 percent of Gen Y overestimated the average cost of short-term disability insurance by hundreds of dollars.
  • If you are a freelancer or consultant looking for disability or life coverage, check with associations that you belong to. They might offer insurance at group rates to their members. For example, The Hartford partners with AAA and the writers guild. Unions or banks are other examples. If you're not a member of an association, benefits such as insurance at a group rate might make it worth joining.
  • Consider renters' insurance, which will cover you if anything happens to your apartment, and often covers big items like your laptop or smartphone as well. If you insure your car and apartment through the same company, you can often get a percent discount.

* The Hartford Benefits For Tomorrow Study was developed by The Hartford and fielded via online survey by BuzzBack in March 2012. The nationally representative sample consisted of 1,000 full-time U.S. workers, aged 18-64. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent for the national sample.

6 You know it, but we are going to say it anyways… There's an app for that.
  • Make personal finance easy and mobile! Since the majority of spending happens outside your house (and you aren't going to carry around your paper budget), look into mobile apps, such as Mint.com, that will allow you to keep track of your spending in real time and view your budget at the point of any purchase. Most banks have mobile apps that will alert you to a low balance and even allow you to deposit checks on the go.
Career Advancement

Career Advancement

1 Use your career center and alumni groups — even after graduation.
  • Whether you are looking for that first job after graduation or out in the job market looking for the next move, take advantage of the resources your university provides. The career center can be a key contact because it spends time every single day building relationships with local, national, and international employers in fields across the board – for you! To really get the most out of the career center, review all info on its website and follow the center on social media. Also, set up a one-on-one appointment to review your résumé, take a career assessment test and practice a mock interview.
  • Don't forget to look into alumni networks offered by your university. Alumni post their contact information and are often willing to advise younger alumni and answer questions. Don't be shy about reaching out!
2 Do your research — on industries, companies, and interviewers.
  • Never forget the value of research. Study the various industries you are interested in and what type of work each one requires by visiting websites, such as WetFeet.com, Vault.com and QuintCareers.com.
  • Always research the company with which you are interviewing. Not only does this demonstrate true interest in the company, culture, and the position, but it will also help you ask relevant, insightful questions. Scour the company's website. Review the mission statement, executive biographies, and the 'about us' section to learn the company's core values, leadership, and history. Also be sure to follow the company on all social media to track its daily news and updates.
  • If you have the names of those who will be interviewing you, visit LinkedIn®, the professional social network, to check out their work history, what they work on, and what you might have in common with them. Finding images of the interviewer(s) can also make the process less intimidating.
3 Determine what benefits make your dream job your dream job.
  • If you're currently employed, figure out exactly what you would like to change about your job and what benefits you would like your next job to offer. For example, if you don't like your current long hours, then you should look for a company that offers a work-life balance or flex time. Other benefits you may want to look for in a new employer could include tuition reimbursement, 401(k) matching, gym memberships, social gatherings, and creative culture. Look beyond your paycheck: Consider benefits such as disability or life insurance as part of your total compensation. Take time to learn the value of every benefit that is offered!
  • Don't miss out on the chance to opt in to disability insurance, which can keep a paycheck coming in if you miss work due to an illness or off-the-job injury. These benefits can help protect your paycheck against situations as common as missing work because of a hurt back. You can help take control and plan for your future by signing up for protection during benefits enrollment.
4 Build a fresh network to help you during your job transition.
  • If you decide to change jobs or industries, talk to anyone and everyone who works in that field. Ask people out for coffee, attend networking events, and ask everyone you know for referrals. And don't worry about only connecting with high-level people. Sometimes recent grads just a few years older than you can offer the best advice and insight.
  • Then, interview these people about how they got started, what experiences are "musts" in their industries or at their companies, how much you can expect to earn, what experience you should highlight on your résumé, and what social networks are essential to join. Most people will be happy to share their wisdom as long as you're polite and show your gratitude. (Just remember to send a "thank you" note afterwards!)
  • If you are considering a career or industry change, also consider reaching out to your university career center. Most career centers are available for free to alumni and willing to help provide other alumni contacts or advice on making the transition. Join your school's LinkedIn network and engage in discussions with fellow alums.
5 Give yourself a safety net because you work hard for your money.
  • Once you've nailed your first job, be smart about protecting yourself. Most employers allow employees the opportunity to opt in to benefits (called voluntary benefits), such as disability insurance. Why might you need this? Because you never know what could happen. Think of it as a safety net while you're recovering from an off-the-job injury or illness — like a broken leg from a winter ski trip — and it also can provide resources, such as physical therapy to help get you back to work. The Hartford's survey found that younger workers without disability insurance would likely dip into their 401(k), get a loan from family, or move in with relatives if a health issue kept them from working.
  • Disability insurance can cover more than what people typically think. In addition to maternity leave, it can also cover more common health issues, such as back injuries and broken bones. And it may be more affordable than you think; The Hartford Benefits For Tomorrow Study* found that 56 percent of Gen Y overestimated the average cost of short-term disability insurance by hundreds of dollars.
  • If you are a freelancer or consultant looking for disability or life coverage, check with associations that you belong to. They might offer insurance at group rates to their members. For example, The Hartford partners with AAA and the writers guild. Unions or banks are other examples. If you're not a member of an association, benefits such as insurance at a group rate might make it worth joining.
  • Consider renters' insurance, which will cover you if anything happens to your apartment, and often covers big items like your laptop or smartphone as well. If you insure your car and apartment through the same company, you can often get a percent discount.

* The Hartford Benefits For Tomorrow Study was developed by The Hartford and fielded via online survey by BuzzBack in March 2012. The nationally representative sample consisted of 1,000 full-time U.S. workers, aged 18-64. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent for the national sample.

6 Get the most out of your paycheck.*
  • Look for every opportunity to minimize your taxable income by finding out what your employer allows you to pay for before taxes.
  • If you are in a big city, for example, take advantage of any public transportation cards. This is a cost you would pay for regardless, so you might as well do it before losing money in taxes.
  • Contribute to any employer-based 401(k) or retirement savings plans and ensure that you're contributing enough to maximize your employer's match, if they offer one. This will generally be deducted from your before-tax income, so you'll be saving for your future without feeling it each month.
  • Also, check if your employer offers discounts on items that might be part of your flexible costs. Companies may have partnerships with certain gyms to give employees a discount. This lets you spend less on something you want but wouldn't pay for at full price. Many organizations also offer flexible health spending accounts so you can pay for items like eyeglasses or prescription drugs with pre-tax money.
  • Signing up for disability insurance can help you pay for your expenses in the event you can't work. Plus, it can help you stay on track with your goals and future plans. The Hartford's research shows young adults without this coverage who are out of work for a period of time are likely to dip into their retirement accounts, doubling the effect of being without a paycheck. Not only will this help protect your lifestyle, but some insurance benefits have additional perks like travel insurance or ID theft protection that come with the coverage. Bonus!

* This information is written in connection with the promotion or marketing of the matter(s) addressed in this material. The information cannot be used or relied upon for the purpose of avoiding IRS penalties. These materials are not intended to provide tax, accounting or legal advice. As with all matters of a tax or legal nature, you should consult your own tax or legal counsel for advice.

7 Get smart on budgeting.
  • Start a document in your phone and write down absolutely every penny you spend for a week. At the end of the week, highlight any money you spent that wasn't essential or didn't make you happy and eliminate it the following week.
  • Little choices can make a big difference to your bottom line. For instance, if you bring your lunch to work every day, you can save about $2,600 a year!
  • Sign up for HelloWallet.com or Mint.com to automate tracking your budget. This will be easier if you primarily use a debit card or credit card, but these services allow you to see what money comes in and where it goes out so you can make smart decisions.
  • Go in to your bank branch and meet with a banker to talk through all of your accounts and credit cards. Make sure you're paying as few fees as possible and, if you are paying fees, figure out how you can meet requirements for free-checking. And, look into no-annual-fee credit cards.
  • Take advantage of free food deals for your birthday. After all, with each year you are becoming further entrenched in the real world. Not only does this mean you deserve to celebrate, it also means you recognize the value of a sweet deal – literally. So join clubs like those at Cold Stone Creamery, Ben & Jerry's or Dairy Queen to give yourself a free birthday splurge. There are also similar deals at restaurants that treat birthday boys and girls to free meals, appetizers, or desserts.
8 You know it, but we are going to say it anyways… There's an app for that.
  • Make personal finance easy and mobile! Since the majority of spending happens outside your house (and you aren't going to carry around your paper budget), look into mobile apps, such as Mint.com, that will allow you to keep track of your spending in real time and view your budget at the point of any purchase. Most banks have mobile apps that will alert you to a low balance and even allow you to deposit checks on the go.
Family

Family

1 Ensure you pick the right insurance.
  • As part of benefits at work, you will likely have the opportunity to select health, life, disability insurance, etc. Meet with your company's HR department or benefits advisor to really understand all of your options.
  • Disability insurance can cover more than what people typically think. In addition to maternity leave, it can also cover more common health issues, such as back injuries and broken bones. And it may be more affordable than you think; The Hartford Benefits For Tomorrow Study* found that 56 percent of Gen Y overestimated the average cost of short-term disability insurance by hundreds of dollars.
  • If you are a freelancer or consultant looking for disability or life coverage, check with associations that you belong to. They might offer insurance at group rates to their members. For example, The Hartford partners with AAA and the writers guild. Unions or banks are other examples. If you're not a member of an association, benefits such as insurance at a group rate might make it worth joining.

* The Hartford Benefits For Tomorrow Study was developed by The Hartford and fielded via online survey by BuzzBack in March 2012. The nationally representative sample consisted of 1,000 full-time U.S. workers, aged 18-64. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent for the national sample.

2 A mortgage is only worth it if you are in a long term relationship with your place.
  • Deciding whether to rent or buy a home? You might hear "experts" talk about rent as money flushed down the drain. However, renting may make the most sense, especially if you're not sure what your future holds. Research shows that if you are going to stay in the same place for six years or more, committing to buying it will pay off.* Otherwise, if you are looking for flexibility, it may make sense to remain a renter.

* http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/business/buy-rent-calculator.html

3 April showers... you with taxes — you can't avoid them, so learn how to make the most of them.
  • Make sure you've selected the appropriate exemptions with your employer. People often choose the wrong exemptions or forget to change their exemptions when they have major life changes like marriage or children. Talk to your HR or benefits advisor to make sure you have selected correctly.
  • Keep receipts for all charitable donations, even the small contributions you might make to support a friend in a road race or give to someone's cause on Facebook. These are deductions you may be able to take as you prepare your tax return.*

* This information is written in connection with the promotion or marketing of the matter(s) addressed in this material. The information cannot be used or relied upon for the purpose of avoiding IRS penalties. These materials are not intended to provide tax, accounting or legal advice. As with all matters of a tax or legal nature, you should consult your own tax or legal counsel for advice.

4 Down with debt!
  • Whether you have student loans or credit card debt, it is important to chip away at those amounts so you can achieve the future you have always dreamed of. There are several approaches you can take to paying off debt:
    • Some people choose to pay down the debt with the highest interest, while others prefer paying off a bit of each account every month. Depending on your situation, you should look at your accounts and choose the best approach for you.
    • Freeze your credit cards in a pan of water – this may sound extreme, but sometimes it takes a radical move to stop yourself from adding any more expenses to pay off.
    • Save your loose change in a jar and bring it to a coin counter every few months. Use this "found" money to pay off some of that debt.
  • Don't let your debt dictate your future. Instead, create some sort of visual reminder of what debt you have left to pay or other concrete representation of your goals to pay off debt. Adding in an indicator of progress can help provide satisfaction as you reach one checkpoint and keep you on the path to reach the next.*

* http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2008/02/06/little-steps-100-great-tips-for-saving-money-for-those-just-getting-started/

5 Get the most out of your paycheck.*
  • Look for every opportunity to minimize your taxable income by finding out what your employer allows you to pay for before taxes.
  • If you are in a big city, for example, take advantage of any public transportation cards. This is a cost you would pay for regardless, so you might as well do it before losing money in taxes.
  • Contribute to any employer-based 401(k) or retirement savings plans and ensure that you're contributing enough to maximize your employer's match, if they offer one. This will generally be deducted from your before-tax income, so you'll be saving for your future without feeling it each month.
  • Also, check if your employer offers discounts on items that might be part of your flexible costs. Companies may have partnerships with certain gyms to give employees a discount. This lets you spend less on something you want but wouldn't pay for at full price. Many organizations also offer flexible health spending accounts so you can pay for items like eyeglasses or prescription drugs with pre-tax money.
  • Signing up for disability insurance can help you pay for your expenses in the event you can't work. Plus, it can help you stay on track with your goals and future plans. The Hartford's research shows young adults without this coverage who are out of work for a period of time are likely to dip into their retirement accounts, doubling the effect of being without a paycheck. Not only will this help protect your lifestyle, but some insurance benefits have additional perks like travel insurance or ID theft protection that come with the coverage. Bonus!

* This information is written in connection with the promotion or marketing of the matter(s) addressed in this material. The information cannot be used or relied upon for the purpose of avoiding IRS penalties. These materials are not intended to provide tax, accounting or legal advice. As with all matters of a tax or legal nature, you should consult your own tax or legal counsel for advice.

6 Get smart on budgeting.
  • Start a document in your phone and write down absolutely every penny you spend for a week. At the end of the week, highlight any money you spent that wasn't essential or didn't make you happy and eliminate it the following week.
  • Little choices can make a big difference to your bottom line. For instance, if you bring your lunch to work every day, you can save about $2,600 a year!
  • Sign up for HelloWallet.com or Mint.com to automate tracking your budget. This will be easier if you primarily use a debit card or credit card, but these services allow you to see what money comes in and where it goes out so you can make smart decisions.
  • Go in to your bank branch and meet with a banker to talk through all of your accounts and credit cards. Make sure you're paying as few fees as possible and, if you are paying fees, figure out how you can meet requirements for free-checking. And, look into no-annual-fee credit cards.
  • Take advantage of free food deals for your birthday. After all, with each year you are becoming further entrenched in the real world. Not only does this mean you deserve to celebrate, it also means you recognize the value of a sweet deal – literally. So join clubs like those at Cold Stone Creamery, Ben & Jerry's or Dairy Queen to give yourself a free birthday splurge. There are also similar deals at restaurants that treat birthday boys and girls to free meals, appetizers, or desserts.
7 Worried about high utility bills? Go greener.
  • There are a couple ways to lower your utility bill — just focus on that electricity output. Make sure that your cell phone charger and all devices are unplugged when not in use. They can sap energy even if they are turned off.
  • When you can't handle the heat, try to cool yourself down with a fan rather than turning on your air conditioning. You could also consider putting a fan in your window facing outwards to draw the hot air out of your room.
  • Only use your dishwasher and washing machine when you have a super full load.
  • Turn off your computer instead of using a screen saver. Those scrolling photos are energy vampires.
  • Turn off the lights — always!
Home Ownership

Home Ownership

1 Worried about high utility bills? Go greener.
  • There are a couple ways to lower your utility bill — just focus on that electricity output. Make sure that your cell phone charger and all devices are unplugged when not in use. They can sap energy even if they are turned off.
  • When you can't handle the heat, try to cool yourself down with a fan rather than turning on your air conditioning. You could also consider putting a fan in your window facing outwards to draw the hot air out of your room.
  • Only use your dishwasher and washing machine when you have a super full load.
  • Turn off your computer instead of using a screen saver. Those scrolling photos are energy vampires.
  • Turn off the lights — always!
2 A mortgage is only worth it if you are in a long term relationship with your place.
  • Deciding whether to rent or buy a home? You might hear "experts" talk about rent as money flushed down the drain. However, renting may make the most sense, especially if you're not sure what your future holds. Research shows that if you are going to stay in the same place for six years or more, committing to buying it will pay off.* Otherwise, if you are looking for flexibility, it may make sense to remain a renter.

* http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/business/buy-rent-calculator.html

3 Ensure you pick the right insurance.
  • As part of benefits at work, you will likely have the opportunity to select health, life, disability insurance, etc. Meet with your company's HR department or benefits advisor to really understand all of your options.
  • Disability insurance can cover more than what people typically think. In addition to maternity leave, it can also cover more common health issues, such as back injuries and broken bones. And it may be more affordable than you think; The Hartford Benefits For Tomorrow Study* found that 56 percent of Gen Y overestimated the average cost of short-term disability insurance by hundreds of dollars.
  • If you are a freelancer or consultant looking for disability or life coverage, check with associations that you belong to. They might offer insurance at group rates to their members. For example, The Hartford partners with AAA and the writers guild. Unions or banks are other examples. If you're not a member of an association, benefits such as insurance at a group rate might make it worth joining.

* The Hartford Benefits For Tomorrow Study was developed by The Hartford and fielded via online survey by BuzzBack in March 2012. The nationally representative sample consisted of 1,000 full-time U.S. workers, aged 18-64. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent for the national sample.

4 Get smart on budgeting.
  • Start a document in your phone and write down absolutely every penny you spend for a week. At the end of the week, highlight any money you spent that wasn't essential or didn't make you happy and eliminate it the following week.
  • Little choices can make a big difference to your bottom line. For instance, if you bring your lunch to work every day, you can save about $2,600 a year!
  • Sign up for HelloWallet.com or Mint.com to automate tracking your budget. This will be easier if you primarily use a debit card or credit card, but these services allow you to see what money comes in and where it goes out so you can make smart decisions.
  • Go in to your bank branch and meet with a banker to talk through all of your accounts and credit cards. Make sure you're paying as few fees as possible and, if you are paying fees, figure out how you can meet requirements for free-checking. And, look into no-annual-fee credit cards.
  • Take advantage of free food deals for your birthday. After all, with each year you are becoming further entrenched in the real world. Not only does this mean you deserve to celebrate, it also means you recognize the value of a sweet deal – literally. So join clubs like those at Cold Stone Creamery, Ben & Jerry's or Dairy Queen to give yourself a free birthday splurge. There are also similar deals at restaurants that treat birthday boys and girls to free meals, appetizers, or desserts.
5 Get the most out of your paycheck.*
  • Look for every opportunity to minimize your taxable income by finding out what your employer allows you to pay for before taxes.
  • If you are in a big city, for example, take advantage of any public transportation cards. This is a cost you would pay for regardless, so you might as well do it before losing money in taxes.
  • Contribute to any employer-based 401(k) or retirement savings plans and ensure that you're contributing enough to maximize your employer's match, if they offer one. This will generally be deducted from your before-tax income, so you'll be saving for your future without feeling it each month.
  • Also, check if your employer offers discounts on items that might be part of your flexible costs. Companies may have partnerships with certain gyms to give employees a discount. This lets you spend less on something you want but wouldn't pay for at full price. Many organizations also offer flexible health spending accounts so you can pay for items like eyeglasses or prescription drugs with pre-tax money.
  • Signing up for disability insurance can help you pay for your expenses in the event you can't work. Plus, it can help you stay on track with your goals and future plans. The Hartford's research shows young adults without this coverage who are out of work for a period of time are likely to dip into their retirement accounts, doubling the effect of being without a paycheck. Not only will this help protect your lifestyle, but some insurance benefits have additional perks like travel insurance or ID theft protection that come with the coverage. Bonus!

* This information is written in connection with the promotion or marketing of the matter(s) addressed in this material. The information cannot be used or relied upon for the purpose of avoiding IRS penalties. These materials are not intended to provide tax, accounting or legal advice. As with all matters of a tax or legal nature, you should consult your own tax or legal counsel for advice.

6 Down with debt!
  • Whether you have student loans or credit card debt, it is important to chip away at those amounts so you can achieve the future you have always dreamed of. There are several approaches you can take to paying off debt:
    • Some people choose to pay down the debt with the highest interest, while others prefer paying off a bit of each account every month. Depending on your situation, you should look at your accounts and choose the best approach for you.
    • Freeze your credit cards in a pan of water – this may sound extreme, but sometimes it takes a radical move to stop yourself from adding any more expenses to pay off.
    • Save your loose change in a jar and bring it to a coin counter every few months. Use this "found" money to pay off some of that debt.
  • Don't let your debt dictate your future. Instead, create some sort of visual reminder of what debt you have left to pay or other concrete representation of your goals to pay off debt. Adding in an indicator of progress can help provide satisfaction as you reach one checkpoint and keep you on the path to reach the next.*

* http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2008/02/06/little-steps-100-great-tips-for-saving-money-for-those-just-getting-started/