Just Graduated College: Now What?

So you’ve graduated college… Congrats! Now what? All of the jokes about the real world and having more responsibilities are starting to become more true and less funny. Relax, the real world doesn’t have to be so scary. Here are a few things that will help lower the stress, and increase the joy of being an adult.

First: You have to budget!

Budgeting is this crazy phenomenon where you keep track of how much money comes in the door, and how much goes out. All of your hard work has paid off, and you aren’t a broke college kid anymore. You’re finally making real money, and that’s a bigger responsibility than you might realize. Quick tip: live by the 50/30/20 rule.

  • Fixed expenses shouldn’t exceed 50% of your monthly take home pay.
  • Discretionary expenses shouldn’t exceed 30% of your monthly take home pay.
  • Always save at least 20% of your monthly take home pay.

Now, this rule in itself does not promise financial success, but we’ve found it to be a very helpful tool in working with our clients as they are getting started.

Second: Always live below your means.

Adults need help with this too. Frankly, all of the western world needs help with this one! All too often, we see people rush into buying houses, apartments, cars, clothes, etc. that they can’t afford. All of these things make us feel great, momentarily, but they leave little room for savings and debt repayment. The majority of young professionals we work with don’t like their debt. They want to get rid of it as fast as possible. However, they love to spend money. If you create a situation where you’re expenses grow too quickly, you won’t have the discretionary income to do the things that you want, pay down your debt, and save the appropriate amount of money.

Third: SAVE!

Save, save, save. All jokes aside, our 20’s and 30’s are periods of great change. Adulthood is expensive and having the money it takes to afford an enjoyable life is a wonderful thing. Whether it’s buying an engagement ring, paying for a wedding, moving across the country, starting a family, buying a house, getting into real estate, or starting a business, you want to have the financial freedom to do what you want when you want. Saving is really just delayed spending. Once you recognize the value of saving your money, you will not only have the ability to do more of what you want, but you’ll enjoy the things you do that much more.

Fourth: Stay woke on your student loans.

We had to make that title hilarious to make sure that you’d read this section. If you haven’t sought the help of a professional regarding your loans and a strategy to pay them back, do it. Obviously, we would love to help. That said, if not us, find someone that can help you understand your loans and how to best manage repaying them. Dropping the ball on this can cost you thousands of dollars in the long run. Don’t make that mistake.

We have worked with a lot of young professionals and studied their habits with regard to saving, spending, and managing debt. And everything we have learned in our time with clients points to one simple fact. Those who have formulated a plan for the future, are disciplined with budgeting, and save their money, are living with less stress and more joy than the masses!

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