Congratulations! After all your hard work, it’s finally paid off. You have your shining nude diploma in your hand and you’re ready to take on the world by storm, or are you? Take steps to get your finances in order now so that you won’t be having ramen noodles for dinner for the rest of your life.
START WITH A BUDGET
Get those good financial habits started now. Sit down and list all of your income and expenses so that you know what you’re working with period keep in mind that if you’re just starting out, you’ll likely have expenses like a work wardrobe and furnishings for wherever you’re going to live to think about. You’re likely used to living frugally as a college student, so extend these habits into your new life as a graduate.
ASSESS YOUR DEBT
Many college graduates have student loans to contend with when they get out of school. Set up a plan to get rid of that debt as soon as possible and avoid taking on any new debt. While credit cards can be tempting and helpful financially when repaid each month, they can also be a recipe for financial disaster.
SET UP AN EMERGENCY FUND
This should be a top priority from the time you receive your first paycheck. You’ll want to work to save a minimum of three to six months of living expenses (but the more the better!). Ideally, you’ll set the money aside in a separate savings account or money market fund. That way you will be able to easily access it in the case of an emergency, but you won’t be tempted to touch it if it’s included in your everyday bank accounts.
START THINKING ABOUT RETIRING NOW
IF your company has a retirement plan, start contributing now. You’re used to not having that money and this can give you a huge leg up on your financial future. If your budget doesn’t allow you to max out your retirement, contribute enough to take full advantage of any matching contributions that your company offers.
Your new life is an exciting time. You’ll be on your own for the first time. Getting your financial house in order early on can ensure that your future is everything that you planned it to be since the first day you stepped on campus your freshman year.