Graduating college is a huge achievement and deserving of the celebrations that go along with it. With a diploma in hand, the graduate enters a wide open world with endless possibilities. But with these possibilities comes increased financial responsibility: rent, car payments, job searches, student loan repayments.
Here are tips for recent grads to stay financially responsible while trying to land their dream job.
1. Develop a budget or spending plan. While your first job out of college may not be your dream one, it still provides earned income. After a few weeks on the job, think about your monthly income and what expenses you have. Think about basic needs first, such as food, shelter and clothing. How much money do you need for groceries, rent, utilities, transportation and student loan payments? Devise a budget and stick with it.
2. Make sure you understand student loan repayment options. According to studentaid.ed.gov, there are several repayment plans available for recent grads. If you’re having difficulty making payments, don’t ignore the situation. There are options such as lowering the monthly payment or applying for a deferment or forbearance, which allows you to stop paying the monthly student loan bill for a determined amount of time. Visit www.StudentLoans.Gov.
3. Start a rainy day fund. Life can be unpredictable: your car could need maintenance or you could experience a dental or medical emergency. Furthermore, consider the overall impact of these events, and the repercussions if you are not financially ready to address them: if your car is inoperable, or your health is impaired, your ability to work and to be productive may suffer, and your income is thereby jeopardized. Always think through the “what if” scenarios and plan accordingly.
4. Know your credit score. Being financially responsible decreases the odds of falling behind on bills, which can damage your credit score. If you have bad credit, you might be turned down for a car or home loan. Poor credit could also cause issues in attaining a good job. The website www.annualcreditreport.com is a helpful resource to use to find out credit scores as well as tips to clean up a spotty credit history.
5. Protect yourself with insurance. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the average renter's insurance policy costs between $15 and $30 per month. Renter’s insurance provides a safety net in case you get robbed or your apartment burns down. It may not hurt your pocketbook to replace stolen or damaged items, but being held liable for an accident in the apartment will be more costly. Health insurance is also a must, no matter how young and healthy you are. HealthCare.gov provides several options for recent college grads.
6. Think about retirement. When you’ve just landed that first job, retirement seems so far off – you tell yourself that there will be plenty of time later to start thinking about retirement planning. But if your employer matches employee contributions, failing to make your own contributions up to that match is like leaving a significant amount of money on the table. Think of it as supercharged wealth accumulation. It's a trifecta: employer contributions, tax deferred growth, and compounding interest all working for you to help you accumulate wealth for your future.
Using these simple tips will make the transition to adulthood easier and more affordable. You’re well on your journey to wealth creation.