College Graduate Roundup

May 22, 2011

Graduation parties can be a bittersweet event for college graduates.  You’re relieved that all your hard work has paid off and you finally have your degree. It’s definitely a good reason to have a big party but as you celebrate with your classmates you realize that life as you know it is ending.  While the new chapter in your life will be exciting, you’ll miss your friends and the lifestyle of being a student, and you’re also a little worried about post-college life.

Life After College

I went to my cousin’s graduation party last weekend and she already had a jump on “life after college”.  She has a job and an apartment lined up and like many college graduates will start making more money than she’s ever earned in her life.  Not only that, she won’t have to spend every evening studying her brains out, she can come home from work and the night will be hers. 

Spending Money

The bad news is that with all this free time and a new paycheck you’ll find ways to start spending your money.  To start with, if you borrowed money you’ll have to start paying off student loans that you accumulated on your quest for wisdom.

Once you get a job and are no longer your parent’s dependent you’ll also have to look into post graduate health insurance plans and figure out the best balance of insurance premiums and deductibles for your medical needs.  One tip, if you do have any major medical procedures that you know you’ll need it’s good to try and get them done while you’re still on your parents insurance.

Saving Money

If you’re starting to get a paycheck you might feel flush with cash since you’re used to the student sized bank account.  You definitely want to put together a savings plan to cover your bills and avoid blowing all your newly earned money.  This is even more important if you haven’t found a job in your field yet and don’t have much of income to support those expenses.

When you’re a recent college grad the expenses like insurance, groceries, gas, and rent can pile up faster than you realize. You’ll want to try and cut your costs with things like finding an affordable apartment and looking for ways to save on auto insurance.

Money for the Future

Although you’re just getting your financial feet under you, it’s not to early to start thinking about your financial situation a decade or more in the future. If you want to buy a house someday, check out this post on credit scores for college graduates

Your credit score is becoming more and more important in your financial life and you’ll want to start building your credit history.  One way to kickstart your credit history is with a secured loan or a secured credit card.  If you already have some credit established and think you’d qualify for a credit card then a rewards card is an option.  Don’t open one if you’d carry a balance but if you pay it off every month a card can help your credit – here’s a look at some of the best credit cards for college graduates.

Something else to consider is to start investing money, whether it’s in a regular investment account or a retirement plan like a 401k or IRA – here are some investing tips for college grads.

Understanding Finances

Our public schools and even universities in the U.S. don’t do the best job about educating you on personal finances and how to handle your money.  One of the best investments of your time when you finish school is to spend an hour each week reading up on some aspect of your finances.  Below are some articles from blogs that I recommend subscribing to.  All of these sites publish several articles a week across a variety of personal finance topics.  Of course magazines and books are also great resources and many of these blogs have a preferred reading list you can check out.

Congratulations on graduating!

Personal Finance



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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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  • Graduation: What do you do now? « Froogalers