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Save - Start on the right path by learning how to spend less than you make.
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Pay Yourself First - take an amount out of each paycheck and put it in a savings account.
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Big Purchases - save the money first to avoid credit card debt.
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The Best Cities for New Grads

1. Houston
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 61
Average Annual Pay: $44,880
Cost of Living Index: 91.4
Unemployment Rate: 8.4 percent

Houston, we don't have a problem...at least when it comes to entry-level job opportunities. Although it has fewer entry-level employers posting jobs compared with New York and Washington, D.C., the city's low unemployment rate and cost of living make it an ideal home for young people launching their careers. With 24 of the 57 biggest companies in Texas, Houston is home to big businesses, including Conoco Phillips (COP), Halliburton (HAL), and Continental Airlines (CAL). Energy, aeronautics, and health-care companies round out the opportunities in Houston. With such attractions as the American Cowboy Museum and an active performing arts scene, those working in the city will have plenty to do in their free time, too.

2. Washington, D.C.
2009 Rank:: 19
Entry-Level Employers: 90
Average Annual Pay: $59,470
Cost of Living Index: 137.9
Unemployment Rate: 10.4 percent

Thanks to government jobs, which are somewhat recession-proof, Washington's job scene is blossoming almost as nicely as the city's famous cherry trees in early spring. It is second only to New York in its number of entry-level jobs, which include postings by the CIA and XM Radio. The average annual pay is the highest on the list, but the unemployment rate is relatively high, too. Being home to Fannie Mae (FNMA), Danaher (DHR), Pepco Holdings (POM), and the Washington Post Co. (WPO) gives D.C. some business clout as well. Visiting the National Mall for reflecting by the reflecting pool, free admission to the Smithsonian, and getting a glimpse of the President outside the White House aren't bad perks either.

3. Dallas
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 53
Average Annual Pay: $44,640
Cost of Living Index: 90.8
Unemployment Rate: 8.2 percent

Dallas is more than the Cowboys and their cheerleaders, apparently. This city boasts a low cost of living and several big companies including AT&T (T), Texas Instruments (TXN), Southwest Airlines (LUV), and Blockbuster (BLOKA). Technology, defense, and even financial services are among the top business sectors in Dallas. Bank of America (BAC) and Hilton Hotels have listings for jobs near Dallas. Of course, the Dallas Cowboys, whose new, state-of-the-art stadium in nearby Arlington will be host to Super Bowl XLV in 2011, are also a big draw.

 

 

4. Atlanta
2009 Rank:: 5
Entry-Level Employers: 57
Average Annual Pay: $45,520
Cost of Living Index: 96.2
Unemployment Rate: 9.8 percent

The warm climate and sizzling job opportunities make the nickname Hotlanta, bestowed on the city by its rappers, fitting. Ten of Georgia's 14 biggest companies are in Atlanta, includingHome Depot (HD), United Parcel Service (UPS), which incidentally has many listings in Atlanta on AfterCollege, Delta Airlines (DAL), and Coca-Cola (KO). What makes Atlanta able to weather economic storms is the diversity of its industries, from services to manufacturing. Attractions, such as the World of Coca-Cola, where you can trace the soft drink's history and sample drinks from around the world, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site, where you can explore the leader's birth home, call visitors to the city.

5. Austin, Tex.
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 33
Average Annual Pay: $45,180
Cost of Living Index: 91.7
Unemployment Rate: 7 percent

Zany Austin has gotten a reputation for its creative artists and musicians. Who knew it was also a great place to start a career? A low cost of living and unemployment rate puts this city among the best for entry-level job hunters. Stymied by the dot-com bust at the start of the new century, the city in 2004 launched Opportunity Austin, a plan to bring in 72,000 new jobs to the city. Since then, the city's efforts have added 123,400 new jobs to the region, according to the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. Although the number of employers listing jobs is low compared with other cities on the list, technology and health-care jobs lead the pack. In addition, several well-known companies, including Dell (DELL) and Whole Foods Market(WFMI), are headquartered in Austin. The city prides itself on having a small-town feel, which is appealing to some new college grads. It's also a hotbed for cyclists, including champion Lance Armstrong, who lives in Austin.

 

6. Minneapolis
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 41
Average Annual Pay: $48,670
Cost of Living Index: 109.7
Unemployment Rate: 6.8 percent

Minneapolis was home to Mary Richards in the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and if Mary could make it there, so might today's recent college grads. They'd have good company with Target(TGT), General Mills (GIS), and PepsiAmericas, a subsidiary of Pepsico (PEP), headquartered in Minneapolis. The city's diverse industries include electronics, milling, machinery, and medical products among its strongest. The low unemployment rate and attractions, which include Mall of America and the Mississippi River, are alluring. And yes, you can see the Mary Tyler Moore statue, which depicts the actress tossing her hat in the air as she did in the show's credits.

7. Pittsburgh
2009 Rank:: 12
Entry-Level Employers: 40
Average Annual Pay: $41,450
Cost of Living Index: 91.5
Unemployment Rate: 8.1 percent

Steel country makes the list, thanks in part to its low cost of living and decent unemployment rate. Employers listing job opportunities include Ernst & Young and U.S. Bancorp (USB). Also calling Pittsburgh home are PNC Financial Services Group (PNC), United States Steel (X), andH.J. Heinz (HNZ). Although Pittsburgh has a reputation for being industrial, the city's famous football team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, draws visitors.

8. Denver
2009 Rank:: 4
Entry-Level Employers: 29
Average Annual Pay: $48,560
Cost of Living Index: 102
Unemployment Rate: 7.8 percent

Thanks to jobs for mortgage specialists, securities and commodity brokers, and real estate and mutual fund managers, Denver has earned the title of "Wall Street of the Rockies." While the Mile High City is best known for its air transportation, telecommunications, aerospace, and manufacturing sectors, the fields of nursing and shipping are picking up. In fact, nursing and health-care jobs are in abundance on AfterCollege. Qwest Communications (Q)is the city's only Fortune 500 company. Still, views of the Rocky Mountains and entertaining sports teams help make Denver appealing to college grads.

9. Columbus, Ohio
2009 Rank:: 10
Entry-Level Employers: 38
Average Annual Pay: $43,070
Cost of Living Index: 92.7
Unemployment Rate: 9.4 percent

Despite being the state capital and the largest city in Ohio, Columbus is often overshadowed by Cincinnati and Cleveland. But its range of job listings from a diverse group of employers, including Goodyear (GT) and Alliance Financial (ALNC), could pull the city out of obscurity. Big employers that call Columbus home include Nationwide, American Electric Power (AEP), Limited Brands (LTD), and Big Lots (BIG). Surprisingly, the U.S. government is the city's third-largest employer, thanks to the Defense Supply Center, which is one of the largest suppliers of spare parts for weapon systems. Home to Ohio State University and born of a patch of rolling farmland, Columbus is a namesake of explorer Christopher Columbus. Those who explore the city might stumble on a replica of his ship The Santa Maria, which is docked downtown on the Scioto River.

10. Fort Worth
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 32
Average Annual Pay: $41,140
Cost of Living Index: 89.7
Unemployment Rate: 8.1 percent

Beginning its life as a center for gambling and saloons, Fort Worth later became known for its livestock and then as a focal point of the Texas oil rush. The city is still defining itself, which gives recent college grads an incentive to move there. Once dependent on defense jobs, Fort Worth set out to diversify its business opportunities. Those efforts forged TECH Fort Worth, a nonprofit business incubator that helps entrepreneurs launch technology companies to help the environment, community, or health care. The job listings show demand for health-care workers in the city. Burlington Northern Santa Fe and RadioShack (RSH) are among the big companies with operations in Fort Worth.

11. Boston
2009 Rank:: 8
Entry-Level Employers: 40
Average Annual Pay: $55,620
Cost of Living Index: 131.1
Unemployment Rate: 8.2 percent

From the Red Sox, who rid the city of its curse, to the distinctive accent of its natives, Boston has character and business appeal. With many universities in the area, including Harvard and Boston universities, many college graduates know the city well. Although the city is ranked among the highest on the list for cost of living, its average annual pay, which is also among the highest, might make up for it. Finance and insurance are important industries in the city.Liberty Mutual Insurance and State Street (STT) are two big employers that call Boston home. Boston is also among the nation's top destinations for its historic sites, which means opportunities in tourism, too. From Paul Revere's house to the Public Gardens, visitors and residents have plenty to do.

12. New York
2009 Rank:: 3
Entry-Level Employers: 108
Average Annual Pay: $54,240
Cost of Living Index: 218
Unemployment Rate: 8.8 percent

The city that never sleeps has been up thinking about its economic future. Hit hard by the banking crisis of the past couple of years, New York has the highest cost of living on the list, but it also has the highest number of employers posting jobs. Wall Street is still arguably the center of the financial world, and financial services remain an important part of the city's economy, along with media, entertainment, and telecommunications. JPMorgan Chase (JPM),Citigroup (C), Verizon (VZ), American International Group (AIG), and Goldman Sachs (GS) are headquartered in New York. The city earned the moniker Silicon Alley for its contributions to the high-tech sector. Television and film production, despite the loss of TV's Law and Order, rival Los Angeles. And tourism remains a thriving business as people come to visit the city's attractions and monuments, including the former World Trade Center site. While the city is never boring (think Empire State Building, the world champion Yankees, and the Statue of Liberty), recent college grads have to pay a pretty penny to live there.

13. Tulsa
2009 Rank:: 21
Entry-Level Employers: 27
Average Annual Pay: $37,620
Cost of Living Index: 88.3
Unemployment Rate: 7 percent

With the lowest cost of living on the list, Tulsa is an attractive place for recent college grads looking to save money. But the city also has one of the lowest average annual salaries. The "Oil Capital of the World" until World War II, Tulsa developed aircraft and aerospace sectors, which are now the region's largest industries. A range of employers, including those in trucking and education, are posting jobs. The gas pipeline business Oneok (OKS) and the energy outfit Williams Companies (WMB) are two of the city's biggest. Residents and tourists alike get the best of both worlds—the hip and creative Brookside for restaurants and nightlife and Utica Square with its mansions and upscale shopping.

14. Oklahoma City
2009 Rank:: 17
Entry-Level Employers: 25
Average Annual Pay: $38,090
Cost of Living Index: 91.9
Unemployment Rate: 5.9 percent

Once dominated by the oil industry, Oklahoma City now counts agriculture, energy, aviation, and health care among its driving economic forces. The Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center trains air traffic controllers, while Tinker Air Force Base is home to the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, which provides maintenance for the Air Force's most sophisticated weapons. Thanks to these employers, Oklahoma City has the lowest unemployment rate on the list. A resilient community, Oklahoma City has created both a landscaped memorial at the site of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, and the Museum & Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism.

15. Kansas City
2009 Rank:: 16
Entry-Level Employers: 27
Average Annual Pay: $43,240
Cost of Living Index: 97.6
Unemployment Rate: 8.3 percent

Trade, transportation, and utilities are major industries in Kansas City, which enjoys a low cost of living. H&R Block (HRB) and Hallmark Cards are headquartered in the city, which is unique in the Midwest because of its fountains and Art Deco and Mediterranean-style buildings. Sales and health-care jobs are prominent among the job listings. Government, professional and business services, and education round out the opportunities available in Kansas City. Recent college grads might enjoy the city's jazz offerings, which date back to Prohibition days, when the city allowed alcohol to be served at speakeasies, brothels, and gambling dens.

16. Philadelphia
2009 Rank:: 6
Entry-Level Employers: 56
Average Annual Pay: $47,990
Cost of Living Index: 126.5
Unemployment Rate: 9 percent

Few cities are as historically important as Philadelphia, but it's an important business center as well. Once reliant on manufacturing, the city’s economy is now focused on information and service businesses. Center City serves as the financial hub for Philadelphia. Major companies, including Comcast (CMCSA), Sunoco (SUN), and Cigna (CI) have made Philly their home. Although a high cost of living, high unemployment rate, and average annual pay, which is less than $50,000, don’t sound promising, the employers, including Hertz (HTZ) and Thomson Reuters (TRI), and their listing opportunities do. Besides, residents can live and work in the very place where America was born.

17. Cleveland
2009 Rank:: 28
Entry-Level Employers: 41
Average Annual Pay: $41,930
Cost of Living Index: 100.6
Unemployment Rate: 9.1 percent

Basketball star LeBron James may have left Cleveland, but college graduates might give it a shot. Although manufacturing remains the city's primary industry, science and engineering run a close second, and the city is emerging as a research base for biotechnology. The biggest employers headquartered in Cleveland include Eaton (ETN), Parker Hannifin (PH), Sherwin-Williams (SHW), and KeyCorp (KEY). Despite the relatively high cost of living and unemployment rate, Cleveland has its benefits. The once-polluted Cuyahoga River, which caught fire in 1969 and gave Cleveland the name of "The Mistake on the Lake," has cleaned up nicely, and visitors can also drop in on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

18. Charlotte
2009 Rank:: 13
Entry-Level Employers: 30
Average Annual Pay: $43,890
Cost of Living Index: 93.5
Unemployment Rate: 11.1 percent

Charlotte might have a high unemployment rate, but it is also on the low end for cost of living. From the looks of the employers posting jobs, recent grads who want to work in health care as, say, nurses or MRI technicians have some great opportunities. The city is best known, however, for banking. In fact, Bank of America (BAC) is headquartered in Charlotte. Nascar fans will enjoy having Lowes Speedway and many of the Nascar teams in the city. Recent college grads might also appreciate Charlotte's version of SoHo, which is called NoDa and features art galleries and restaurants galore.

19. Phoenix
2009 Rank:: 2
Entry-Level Employers: 31
Average Annual Pay: $41,930
Cost of Living Index: 99.5
Unemployment Rate: 8.4 percent

Phoenix's high temperatures are only slightly hotter than the job opportunities. Retail and health-care jobs are available, but some employers ask for bilingual hires, so speaking Spanish is a big plus. The city relies on manufacturing and tourism. Nowadays, the dude ranches of yesteryear have become spas and luxury resorts. Four of the five biggest companies in the state—Avnet (AVT), Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold (FCX), Republic Services (RSG), and PetSmart (PETM)—are in Phoenix. Despite the fairly low average annual salary, sun worshippers might consider living and working in Phoenix; even in winter, the temperature rarely drops below 65 degrees.

20. Dayton
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 30
Average Annual Pay: $41,750
Cost of Living Index: 90.8
Unemployment Rate: 10.9 percent

Retail, customer service, and health-care workers can find opportunities in Dayton. The city's economy runs on manufacturing and wholesale and retail trade and services. Employers are working to recruit highly skilled employees, according to the City Data website, because of an aging population in Dayton. This means recent college grads could be in demand there. Large employers include Premier Health Partners and Kettering Health Network.

21. Salt Lake City
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 25
Average Annual Pay: $41,530
Cost of Living Index: 100
Unemployment Rate: 7 percent

The international headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, whose followers are known as Mormons, Salt Lake City's economy has grown beyond its origins as a farming and mining community. Today the city serves as the center of Utah's government and business. Big employers include the state government, the University of Utah, and a variety of companies, including Wells Fargo (WFC) and Huntsman (HUN), a huge chemical company headquartered in the city.

22. Milwaukee
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 25
Average Annual Pay: $44,080
Cost of Living Index: 101.2
Unemployment Rate: 8.5 percent

On the shores of Lake Michigan not far from Chicago, Milwaukee is a Midwestern hub best known for its beer. The city is home to the Miller Brewery, which visitors can tour, but the city's economy doesn't rely on beer. Manufacturing, especially of machinery, is its big business. Six of Wisconsin's 10 largest companies, including Johnson Controls (JCI),Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, and Harley-Davidson (HOG), are based in Milwaukee. Beer and bike lovers alike might find their calling here.

23. Cincinnati
2009 Rank:: 9
Entry-Level Employers: 25
Average Annual Pay: $42,340
Cost of Living Index: 93.7
Unemployment Rate: 10.2 percent

A decent cost of living and average annual pay might attract recent college grads to Cincinnati, home to Procter & Gamble (PG), Kroger (KR), and Macy's (M). Manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, and insurance are among the most important industries. On the AfterCollege site, job seekers will find customer service and health-care listings. Sports lovers will appreciate this city, which acquired the country's first professional baseball team, the Reds, and is also home to football's Bengals.

24. San Antonio
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 30
Average Annual Pay: $37,970
Cost of Living Index: 96.2
Unemployment Rate: 7.3 percent

Home of the Alamo, where 189 defenders fell after repeated attacks by Mexican General Santa Anna's army in 1836, San Antonio remains tied to the military. With one of the largest U.S. populations of active and retired military, the city is home to many bases, which employ military and civilians in the region. Services, manufacturing, and government are also big draws. Retail and health-care jobs dominate the job listings. Valero Energy (VLO), the United Services Automobile Assn., Tesoro (TSO), and CC Media Holdings (CCMO) are major organizations that call San Antonio home. When all the work gets to you, you can pass through the charming River Walk, which attracts tourists to the area almost as much as the Alamo does.

25. Richmond, Va.
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 23
Average Annual Pay: $43,740
Cost of Living Index: 106
Unemployment Rate: 7.6 percent

Manufacturing, federal and state agencies, and educational institutions are among the reasons there are jobs in Richmond, even during periods that are difficult for the rest of the country. In recent years, semiconductor manufacturing has played a particularly important role in the city's economy. Having major companies, including Dominion Resources (D), doesn't hurt either. Probably the best-known company in Richmond, however, is Philip Morris (PM), which has been in the city since 1929. Sales and retail jobs abound on the listings. The city is also rich in attractions, which include the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, some historic homes, and the Library of Richmond, which features an original copy of the U.S. Bill of Rights.

26. Knoxville, Tenn.
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 23
Average Annual Pay: $37,820
Cost of Living Index: 89
Unemployment Rate: 8.5 percent

Knoxville lies under most people's radar. But its stable economy, driven by a diversity of industries, is worth a second look for recent college graduates. Many young people are already in the city, because it's the base for the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, which also boosts the economy. Health-care, sales, and driving jobs are among the listings. Growth in trade, transportation, and utilities is evident. The city is home to the government-runTennessee Valley Authority, which provides electricity for 9 million people in the southeast.

27. Tucson
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 22
Average Annual Pay: $40,870
Cost of Living Index: 96.8
Unemployment Rate: 8.2 percent

Referred to by some people as an "oasis of arts in the desert," Tucson's economy is boosted by the ballet, symphony, live theater, and opera available in the city. Once reliant on copper mining, Tucson is now looking to tourism and high-tech industries to boost its economy. While no major companies have a presence in the city, retail, health-care, and transportation jobs dominate the listings.

28. Seattle
2009 Rank:: 14
Entry-Level Employers: 22
Average Annual Pay: $51,850
Cost of Living Index: 123.3
Unemployment Rate: 8.2 percent

Seattle is home to some impressive, well-known brands, including Amazon.com (AMZN),Nordstrom (JWN), and Starbucks (SBUX), which opened its original store in Seattle's Pike Place Market in 1971. The largest employer in Seattle, according to the state government's website, is the University of Washington. Health care and biotechnology are major industries in the city. A variety of jobs are listed, from a post for a sous chef to one for a software development manager at Amazon. Relatively low unemployment and high average annual pay are attractive benefits for recent college graduates.

29. Portland, Ore.
2009 Rank:: NA
Entry-Level Employers: 29
Average Annual Pay: $46,080
Cost of Living Index: 109.5
Unemployment Rate: 10.5 percent

The strength of this city lies with its port. In fact, Portland's imports and exports are big business. With the fourth-largest port on the West Coast, Portland exports the largest volume of wheat in the U.S. and is the largest auto import gateway on the West Coast, according to the Port of Portland's website. Although the city has a relatively high unemployment rate, it also has a decent cost of living and annual average pay. Nike (NKE), Precision Castparts (PCP), and other big employers have headquarters in or near the city. And the U.S. Army Medical Corps, Boeing (BA), Merck & Co. (MRK) and Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) are among the employers listing jobs. Outdoor lovers flock to Portland for its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and Cascade Mountains.

30. Tampa
2009 Rank:: 20
Entry-Level Employers: 28
Average Annual Pay: $40,590
Cost of Living Index: 92.6
Unemployment Rate: 11.9 percent

High unemployment and low average annual pay are balanced in Tampa by a low cost of living and a sunny, warm climate. While tourism plays a role in the city's economy, many would be surprised to learn that the region has an agribusiness industry that produces citrus fruit, beef, and dairy products, among other things. Tampa's economy was once based on cigar manufacturing, which was established by a large influx of Cuban immigrants. Today, cigars are still manufactured in the city but not at the same level as before. Big employers include Publix Super Markets (PUSH), Wal-Mart (WMT), and Verizon Communications (VZ). Visitors to the area often go to Busch Gardens, which is one of the most popular theme parks in Florida.

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