401k: Be sure to take advantage of your employer’s 401k plan by putting at least enough money to collect the employer match into it. This basically means that for every dollar you contribute, your company will match that (pre-tax!). This ensures you’re taking full advantage of what is essentially free money from your employer. That match is POWERFUL and can double your money over the course of your working life:
I came a low income single mother home. I earned two bachelors degrees, but had no car and no job to afford one. That killed my chances of working in either desired field after college. I worked part time for twelve years locally at a company, then was downsized. Mom died and I had to get an apartment. Still not enough money to risk getting a car when it could take from a month’s rent or more… that much closer to being out on the street with my belongings gone. I am really hopeful I can find something legitimate.