Congrats, Grads! Now what? 5 Tips for Financial Independence After College
LaTisha Styles

It’s time to make the transition from college student to fresh college graduate. As a full-time college student, you may have had little to no time to earn a full-time income. Now that you are getting ready to graduate, it’s time look for that first career position and get your finances together. Here are a few tips how:

 Find a Job

As you look for your first job after college, remember that it may take some time to find the perfect position. In the meantime, look for second and third choice jobs as well. The first job you take will likely not be your last; it will help you to start planning your finances, instead of getting behind as your bills pile up.  Update your resume, reach out to network connections, and practice your interview skills.

 Budget Then Automate

Creating a solid budget is very important at this stage in life. Begin by listing all of your income and expenses including: housing, transportation, loans, etc. Then, determine a savings goal and pay yourself first. Start with at least 10% of your income and work to grow to a consistent 15-20%. Now automate this process. Set up direct deposit with automatic withdrawals into a savings account. Automating your savings can help you accumulate assets for your living expenses, without even thinking about it. Creating a sustainable budget is key to a firm financial foundation.

 Build an Emergency Fund

Your savings should also consist of an emergency fund. There is no telling when an emergency will occur. Keeping a set budget for emergencies will prevent you from tapping into other sources of funds, like credit cards.

 Get a Handle on Your Debt

Speaking of credit cards, if you have credit card debt, make it your priority to pay it off. Set up a plan to eliminate your debt in as short a period as possible. Try to pay more toward the debt with the highest interest rate and work down from there. Similarly, if you have student loans, make sure you are set up to be successful in repayment with those, too. Check out StudentLoan.gov. for a variety of repayment options. And much like credit cards, it’s often a good idea to pay more toward loans with higher interest rates first.

 Plan for Investing and Retirement

Now that you have your savings and debt payment, it’s time to start investing. Look into low-cost index funds or simply invest in your employer-sponsored 401(k). With a pre-tax retirement account and steady contributions, you can begin to accumulate a retirement portfolio. If your job offers an employer match, use it to invest even more.

 You may be overwhelmed with the “Real World,” but don’t panic. Take the time to make solid financial decisions to help set yourself up for a successful financial future. The key is starting early and you should be way ahead of the game

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