Some quick advice on personal finance topics. Dig in further to areas that interest you most!
I am not a financial advisor. Everything here is solely my own opinion. I highly recommend you do your own research to determine what will work best for you and your situation.
For budgeting, I recommend something that is intuitive, fast, and will actually help you track inflows and outflows on a daily basis. It also needs to be as painless to use as possible so that you actually do use it. I highly recommend You Need A Budget (YNAB). It is versatile budgeting software that works across Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Check out the starter guide to see if it’s for you. While there is an annual cost of $84, they offer a free trial and college students can get a year free. The value it brings makes me more than happy to pay for it.
While still making the minimum payments on all loans, choose whether to prioritize paying off debt by highest interest rate (debt avalanche / stacking method) or lowest balance (debt snowball method). There are trade-offs to both so decide which will work best for you.
Every paycheck pay yourself first by setting aside some money in a high-yield savings account. Not only will you be set up in case of an emergency, the savings can compound through the interest gains. Find a bank or credit union offering a high-yield no fee savings account that is backed by the federal government and offers a competitive APY (interest rate). My personal favorite is Ally Financial.
Invest early and often to take advantage of compounding (money passively doubling over time). Don’t waste time trying to hand pick stocks. Use The Vanguard Group to index and be done with it. VTSAX is a good option for stocks, and VBTLX is a good option for bonds. Diversify your portfolio according to your risk preference. Stocks yield higher returns, but are more risky, whereas bonds are the inverse.
The U.S. operates on a marginal tax bracket system which means as you move into higher brackets, you are only paying the higher percentage on the income in that bracket. Moving up does not mean you pay the higher percentage on your entire income for the year. It does not make sense to turn down a raise, promotion, etc. for supposed tax reasons.
Don’t insure stuff you can afford to lose. This includes purchase protection, extended warranties, etc. Raise your auto and home deductibles, save money on the premiums, and fund your own account to be used in case something happens. This will keep your premium from rising when you would otherwise need to file a claim.
Is there anybody who financially relies upon you? If yes, consider term life insurance. If not, or you have enough assets to leave them a comfortable amount, you do not need it.