@Going Concern “Investing On A New Graduate’s Salary: What To Do With What’s Left”

My new column is up @Going Concern:

First paycheck. After taxes it’s not a big as you’d hoped. $72k is pretty good money but not the mother lode, for sure. If you weren’t living in one of the most expensive cities in the US it would go a lot farther. But at least you’ve got a roommate to share the burden. Working so many hours leaves little time for shopping and boozing anyway.

A combination of internships and help from your parents left you with less debt than so many others. Still….There’s 40k to pay off at 6.8 %. Sign up for direct debit to lower it 6.3%. A take home of approximately 4k a month, 500/month in loan payments, 1k a month in rent and another 1k in Chipotle/Pot Belly expenses doesn’t leave a lot for investing…

Read the rest here.

6 replies
  1. Ben Everett
    Ben Everett says:

    Since when do new graduates make $72,000? I’m a CPA halfway through an MBA degree with 2-3 years of experience and I can’t even make forty grand. $1K a month in food? Who does that??

  2. Ben Everett
    Ben Everett says:

    This article seems a little confusing. If you click on the part that says “Read the rest here.” it bring you to an article that is mixed up with other stuff about stocks and interest rates.

    So you’re saying new graduates on the east coast of the U. S, will make $72,000 fresh out of college? Is that with a Master’s in tax and several internships? I still find that salary hard to believe. Here in Florida, $72.000 is unheard of no matter which coast you’re on. Are there any job postings online that show this? This is the problem I find with online discussions about accounting careers. They are too high-level.

    The vast majority of accountants will never make anything like what we see posted online. It’s very misleading. It seems like the only thing that really gets talked about on the internet are the very top of the profession like Big 4 careers, becoming a Controller or a CFO, making $100,00, etc. We hardly see discussion about what MOST accountants do, like being a staff accountant which often pays less than $40K.

  3. Francine
    Francine says:

    Hi @Ben Everett

    I write a column at GoingConcern.com each week. I do not reprint it in whole here for several reasons including that my contract prohibits it. The article was really meant to highlight that at the beginning of your career, there is very little disposable income, no matter what your salary. It’s all relative. I used an East Coast example because it’s the most extreme. If I remember correctly, when i was 25, I wanted to go out to eat and drink with my friends, to travel and to buy clothes. I didn’t save much.

    The investment ideas were just for fun but meant to explain interest rate arbitrage. It’s what the big banks are doing with almost free FED money and what you can think about with regard to your loans. Of course, if you can pay them off quickly that’s always a load off your mind, especially if you’re going to go and get married young or just want to feel all good and righteous. But if you can make more money with that money, or enjoy your life a bit now, my philosophy has always been, “Just do it.”

    Don’t take advice from me, though. My first salary out of undergraduate, as an internal auditor at a bank in 1984, was 19,600. I lived at home only six months. I didn’t save much and there were no 401ks then. I did not make more than 100k until I went to work for KPMG Consulting ten years later and didn’t make more than 200k until I managed hundreds of people and had to travel all the time.

    Just get started. A job that pays fairly for what you do is a blessing at this time. Do well, and get promoted. Bonuses and raises are going to be thin in most places but promotions almost always get you a bump. The best way to increase your salary is still to move to another place. You are always valued more outside versus inside. And it’s less of a stigma to move around a bit, although not every two years. That’s hard on the emotional and personal life, too. And don;t do it for 2k. That’s not enough for Starbucks.

    If you want to save money, stay single, live with your family or roommates and don’t drink and eat out so much. Give to charity. Signup for the United Way deduction. It may be the only tax deduction you can get in the early years. And you will be doing good.

  4. cpa2blog
    cpa2blog says:

    @Francine – Thanks for the perspective! I really enjoyed follow up comment #4 (transitions from interest rate arbitrage to philosophy on life). It’s the kind of career/life advice I’m looking for right now.

    Also, I want to say that comment #4 is my favorite post on your website because it’s so human/real. Sometimes I kinda forget that you are human because I’m so used to your snarky/condescending posts. Although you didn’t ask for my opinion, I want to suggest maybe try writing a snark-less post like this for the ‘Your Career’ section or maybe consider a snark-free category? I’d love to read it.

  5. Francine
    Francine says:


    Thanks. Yes, I’m just a girl with a dog. I do write non-snark. There’s a few other posts you can look at to see more of my personality shining through with no criticism of the Big 4. I have to be in the mood for those though. A melancholy mood works best, maybe late at night or after a trip, two glasses of very heavy red wine and my Rottie Rosie nibbling on my toes on the sofa.


    This one is sort of snarky but definitely personal. (Some NSFW words)

    Maybe it’s time for something new for the career section. I’m going to SXSW this weekend. Maybe that will inspire me.

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