16 Suggestions After Graduating College

When developing this list of 16 Suggestions After Graduating College I was reminded by a contributor that each person has a different set of circumstances and he warned against generalizations. I gave this some thought, and I believe nearly every single recent graduate will benefit from several components of this list, If not all. For example, I realized some time ago with regret I would have saved a bundle if I had a roommate to share the cost rather than living alone. 
16 Suggestions After Graduating College is in my opinion, the first page in a strong roadmap to a reduced stress life. Read, analyze and see if you can apply these to your life.

1. Build an emergency fund then attack student loans.

Today, roughly 70% of American students end up taking out loans to go to college. The average graduate leaves school with around $30,000 in debt.  The payback of $30K can drag on for an eternity.  At a modest interest rate of 5.8% (the national average) that is roughly $1,700 of interest the first year.  Assuming a ten-year payback period you will pay $9,700 in interest alone.  The first step to a debt-free, stress-reduced life is to get rid of all debt.

2. Adopt an exercise routine and stick with it. Find a hobby/activity that gets you moving. Get an annual physical, use sunscreen and see the dentist, brush, floss, pay attention to oral hygiene.

A study where seniors were asked what you would do differently in your life? a significant percentage said I would take better care of my health.  That 20lbs extra you carry today will catch up with you tomorrow. staying active keeps the energy level up and can positive affect your psyche

As much as I love being outdoors, walking, fishing, etc., I have two friends with skin cancer a third died of it.  Wear a hat, put on sunscreen, and limit your unprotected exposure to the sun.

3. Join your company’s 401k plan as soon as possible and put in as much as you reasonably can.

Every dollar saved early your career has the most time to grow.  Compounding and regular savings are powerful and amazing allies.  Get started as soon as possible.

4. Track your finances (build a budget) and calc your net worth.

Budgeting is a great way to keep track of where your money is going. You may learn that a fantastic Italy trip is within your means if you just brown bag lunch.  Savings can be passive (automatic) but spending cannot be. You need to track and understand where you are spending your hard-earned cash.

5. Save automatically a.k.a. “pay yourself first”.

For me, this was the number one factor in achieving financial independence.  I saved, invested then spent the rest.  It happened automatically and what you do not see or touch you do not spend.

6. Adopt a process of continuous learning.

Although I have a BS in accounting, an MBA in finance, and an MS in tax I learned to code after graduation working as an auditor.  Coding and data mining became my passion.  I kept up going to class reading. I studied and passed and became a Certified Internal Auditor, a Certified Information Systems Auditor, a Certified Bank Examiner.  I never was unemployed a single day since my first job.  I attribute that to continuing to learn and being a can-do, “happy to help”, multi-skilled skilled guy.

7. Live like a college kid for the first 12 months that you have that career job. No upgrading housing conditions, cars, furniture, etc. New clothing for a career is ok if needed.

In other words that pile as fast as you possibly can.  Think of the pile as your armor against “the spears and arrows of outrageous fortune”.

8. Avoid lifestyle creep.

We have always bought less than we could afford.  When all those inevitable economic downturns came around, I did not stress losing my job.  Why? Because if I did get laid-off, I knew I could survive a very long time without a paycheck.

9. Read “A Simple Path to Wealth” and “Set for Life: Dominate Life, Money, and the American Dream”.

https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Path-Wealth-financial-independence/dp/1533667926
https://www.amazon.com/Set-Life-Dominate-American-Dream/dp/0997584718

10. Always do what you say you are going to do. Always show up at least 5 minutes early.

Being a reliable and a can-do and “happy to help” person goes a long way.

11. Listen to your gut.

If something feels wrong do not do it.  Your integrity is everything.

12. Focus on your career, set goals.

This will help you identify where you want to be and how to get there.

13. Take time to cultivate hobbies, travel, and seek balance in your life.

“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” it can also affect the quality of your work.

14. If you cannot live at home, get a roommate to reduce costs.

I spent much more than I needed to on a big apartment.  Had I a roommate I might have saved $500 or more a month for a couple of years – real money.

15. Do some deep thinking on where you want your life to go.

This is the perfect time to try things and do things you have always wanted to. Go work for that company that pays less but is located where you want to live and or take up that interest that you love passionately.  Give yourself a year or two to enjoy being a 20-something with an income, and then be ready to chart the rest of your life from there.  It is a lot harder when you are older and have kids.

16. If you do not have a credit card get one, monitor it closely, pay off the balance each month.

Think of debt as the enemy, and no debt with a pile as low-stress nirvana. If the jalopy needs tires bam just get them.  Thoughtfully reflect on it before you buy that new car.  Might a few-year-old, highly reliable car more efficiently fill your needs?

Bonus:
A contributor surprised me with the following suggestion: Learn to cook.

Coincidentally the day I received the suggestion my wife Carolyn made some delicious onion soup with fresh bread for dinner. A day later I made myself a big pot of New England clam chowder. Learning to cook is not only fun it is a useful lifetime tool as it will help you eat better, healthier food.

A big thanks to the many contributors to 16 Suggestions After Graduating College, for sharing some of their lives hard-learned lessons.

If you found my post helpful, You will find my prior post helpful (click on this link):  
10 Steps to Build Your Freedom Nest Egg.

How I Learned About Personal Finance

Raymond Mills, M.B.A., M.S. has spent over 30 years of his career as a Controller and Investment Bank and Credit Card Technical Auditor.  He now spends his time writing short stories and running his boutique Microsoft Office software customization business.

You can contact Ray @ by emailing him Here or by using the contact form in the right border.

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