For most students, that means they will enter the workforce full-time. Change is upon these soon-to-be new workers, but before they hit the job market there is some things that should be handled right now, including the following.
1. Secure your credit future. Unless you are working, it can be difficult to establish credit with no income to show for it. However, most college students have worked part time by the time they are seniors, with perhaps enough money coming in to establish credit. You need to have credit established to secure an apartment, get the lights turned on and more. Likely, the process has already begun if you have a cell phone in your name and are paying the bill. Review your three credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com to see where you stand with your creditors and then monitor same.
2. Spend less than what you earn. Your first job may place you in an income level you have never seen previously. Suddenly, you are no longer the impoverished college student you once were. New found “wealth” can be so tempting, but it is important that you live within your means. Soon, your first student loans will need to be repaid. That old car you had while in college may need repairs or be replaced. Consider formulating a budget to ensure that your funds are sufficient to meet your expenses.
3. Begin to save money. With your money matters under control, it is important that you begin to set aside cash each pay period. You may not be ready to save for your retirement just yet, but you should begin to squirrel away some cash to cover emergencies. That way you won’t be tempted to charge something and make monthly and expensive payments later.
4. Pay what you owe and on time. One of the worst things any new graduate can do is to fall behind on bill payments. Endeavor to pay what you owe and on time. Further, set up reminders and use your bank account to send payments. Those payments should be scheduled to arrive several days before the money is due.
5. Refinance your student loans. More than likely you have some student debt that must be managed. Typically, the first payments come due about six months after you graduate. The interim time can allow you to save money to begin paying down your debt. It is also important for you to weigh your refinancing options, including consolidating your loans. You may want to discuss your options with a financial advisor to secure the best consolidation option for your budget.
6. Build your career. Your career will be the biggest driver in your life going forward. Although what you do does not have to define you, chances are you will be spending a lot of hours on the job. Be mindful that it can be easy to place a lot of emphasis on what you earn at the expense of doing what you love. Being satisfied with your job path is ultimately more important than what you earn. Construct your life around what you like doing and you will be personally satisfied with your decision.
7. Network like you need it. Because you must. Networking should be a natural part of your life. This means the people you meet are also individuals that can help you. Likewise, you will be able to reciprocate their kindness. People are not a commodity. But they are important to you. You may be more of a Lone Ranger type personality, but ultimately your success in life will be based on the people you interact with. Try to associate with people that will build you up too. Endeavor to encourage others along the way.
When you are in your 20s, so much of your future is before you. Choose your friends wisely, carefully consider whether gradate school would benefit you, and only buy big ticket items — such as a house — when you are financially able to handle the responsibility. Enjoy your life and you will have a good one to show for it.