Graduation is just around the corner. All your hard work has finally paid off, and now you’re ready to enter the professional world. With graduation comes new freedoms, but also new challenges and responsibilities.
For a new or recent graduate, this can be a lot all at once. But, whether you’re a senior going off on your next chapter or a recent graduate, taking the time to manage your finances can help create a smooth transition and prepare you for a successful future.
Oftentimes, people make the mistake of taking the first offer that’s given to them. Regardless of whether you’re taking your first job or pursuing higher education, negotiate your offers when applicable.
Remember, applying for a job, school, or housing isn’t a one-sided relationship. If someone has given you an offer, it means that you were one of the best candidates for the opportunity. Use that to your advantage to negotiate salaries, benefits, bonuses, or stipends. If you have to move for a role, request a moving bonus. If the pay is below the market average, ask them to match the salary to industry standards. Use any professional experience, research, credits, and other offers as leverage for negotiation. Not attempting to negotiate an offer can cause you to miss out on higher pay and better benefits.
Plan Out Expenses
Many college graduates leave school with a degree and debt. Entering the working world with expenses can be a hard obstacle to overcome if proper planning isn’t involved.
When it comes to loans, it’s often better to pay more than the minimum when possible. This will help you lower the principal, allowing you to pay off loans sooner. Set up automatic payments for rent, credit card bills, and loan payments. Doing this will help you avoid any late fees and negative effects on your credit score.
Understanding how much money is owed each month allows you to better assess your financial situation and create a realistic budget to follow. Create a list of all your fixed and variable monthly costs. Detailing a list of expenses gives you a better idea of your disposable income, and shows you where to cut costs.
Cut Down Costs
Life after college is expensive. From housing costs to insurance rates, expenses can add up. Whether you’re still in college or are currently in a job, find ways to cut down your expenses so you can save more of your income.
With this new remote-dominated workforce, there are many opportunities to lessen your living expenses and transportation costs. If your job or school allows you to work from home, you can save money by temporarily living in a family member’s home, a less expensive area, or in a no income tax state. However, if your job still requires you to live near the office, consider living with roommates. Other ways to cut costs include cooking, minimizing subscriptions, biking or walking, and reducing utility and electricity use.
As important as it is to save, it’s just as important to invest. Rather than saving all your money in a small interest rate bank, let your money grow by investing.
Experts recommend setting aside 10-20% of your net income to invest. This is because investing can help you combat high inflation rates, whereas savings accounts don’t.
If you’ve never invested before, start by investing in the stock market. On average, people who invest in the stock market see a 10% rate of return per year. However, there are many other investment opportunities, including, the crypto market, NFTs, real estate, and more. Take time to research what investment is best for you.
Retirement plans, such as 401ks and Roth IRAs, use compound interest because with this type of investment time is your best friend. Usually, your first full-time job will set up a retirement fund for you. However, if you’re someone that works part-time or for yourself, then you have to open a personal retirement fund. Regardless, try to invest early and often to utilize the power of compound interest effectively.
Build and Monitor Credit
If you haven’t yet built any credit history, start now. Once you do, be sure to monitor it often.
Your credit score plays a major role in your life, even affecting your ability to find housing. Should you choose to rent, your landlord will likely have a credit score requirement, and when the time comes to purchase a home, it will play a significant role in the home loan pre-approval process. Your credit even has an impact on your career opportunities. To help prepare for any long-term financial or professional goals, it’s important to build, monitor, and manage your credit.
Credit scores are calculated based on five categories, the three biggest being payment history, accounts owed, and length of credit history. If you don’t have a credit history, take out a credit card to start building your score up. This is a safe way to build credit on your own terms. Make sure to practice healthy credit habits to ensure you’re doing more good than harm to your score. Having a high credit score opens up more opportunities to save money, as credit scores often determine the interest rates you get on loans.
Enhance Your Value
Although this is not a direct financial tip, experience it’s worth its weight in gold. Most jobs look for experience above all else.
Take the time to invest in yourself. If you haven’t gotten a job offer or are in a job you don’t see yourself in long term, take the time to build yourself up. There are numerous ways to gain experience and knowledge. If you’re currently in school or working another job, consider freelancing, volunteering your services, or getting certifications in hard skills. If you have time to take on more, internships, apprenticeships, working part-time, and shadowing are the best ways to get hands-on experience. The world is constantly changing. Regardless of your stage of life, continuously work on improving your skills so you can stay ahead of the curve.