Sorry for the 'youngster' question, but I want to be fiscally repsonsible and have a plan better than my current generation friends.
I am basically living paycheck to paycheck currently, as almost all my extra income goes toward student loans. I am down to about $5,000 total in loans.
Baby Step 1 - set aside $1000 for emergencies
Baby Step 2 - retire all of your debt, aside from a mortgage on the primary home
Baby Step 3 - save 3 to 6 months of your expenses, should you lose your job.
Those are good places to start.
My question is after I finish student loan payoff, where do I go next? Savings, 401k, Roth, etc.
15% of your income in a Roth account. Make sure to max out anything that is matched by your employer.
What is the bext next move when it comes to long-term security?
Equities - stocks, mutual funds and (if you can figure them out, ETFs) - over any 20 year period, (even the 1930s and, more recently, the aughts), equities will outperform fixed investments - although timing can occasionally cause you to not realize profits, but you're young, so risk should be a minimal concern, as is your contribution amount.
Another principle to stick to is - steady contributions to your retirement are paramount. As a 25-year old, time in the market is far more important than market timing or how much you contribute. You have 40+ years of compound interest and dollar-cost-averaging to protect you. Budget your retirement like any other expense, with a goal of 15% of your gross income dedicated for that purpose (and if it needs to be 12% or 13%, that's fine, but there better be a good reason - that shiny new cellphone and high monthly plan can cost a young person like yourself $50k, $60k, even more in unrealized retirement savings in 40 years.)
Pay yourself first, avoid consumer (really any unnecessary) debt, plan ahead (emergencies CAN be planned for) and you should do alright.
This post was edited on 2/3 at 9:33 am