I have a son about ready to graduate from college and head out into the working world. But before he does, we need to sit down and create a budget together. Although we have been discussing money for years together, I don’t want to make any assumptions when it comes to his understanding. He is starting out life and I want to make sure the important financial basics are in place.

First and foremost, he needs to develop good giving and saving habits. If he can develop them from the onset, then he will be well on his way to becoming financially secure. Yes, he will have some student loans that will need to be paid off; but we made sure those student loans would be a good ratio in comparison to his estimated starting salary. He may need to be particularly frugal in the early years, but giving back to the Lord, saving for retirement and paying off student loans will be a high priority.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;” – Proverbs 3:9

Next, when it comes to investing, he should stick to the basics. He simply needs to think long term. He should have a portfolio that contains a broad range of low-cost stocks and bonds. He doesn’t need to worry about investing in individual companies, checking on them every day and buying and selling on a constant basis. If there are specific opportunities he hears about, that’s one thing, but his main goal out of the gate should be to create a portfolio that require minimal attention.

Lastly, I want to encourage him to be careful where he seeks financial help going forward. Everywhere you turn today there are companies and financial advisors who are willing to offer their services – with mixed motives. All are confident that they can make you more than anyone else. The challenge is separating out those competent and trustworthy…let alone affordable.

I don’t claim to have all the answers for my new college graduate, but I do know that starting out simple and developing good financial habits is the best advice I can give him.