4 Money Basics New Grads *Need* to Prioritize
Graduation is an awesome celebration of your hard work, and brings with it exciting life changes and career opportunities. But it also means more responsibility. You’re not worrying about making it to class on time anymore. Rather, how to consolidate your student loan debt is on your mind. And unless you’re moving to a state that repays student loans, you’re gonna need all the financial planning advice you can get. Here are four things every new grad should have on their financial checklist. Cross these suckers off, and you’ll be on your way to surviving and thriving in the real world (financially, of course — you’re killin’ it otherwise).
Once you’re out on your own, the cost of living can skyrocket. Use a free personal finance app like Mint or You Need a Budget that connect to your bank accounts to track your money and give you a great overview of your spending habits. Ignoring the app because it’s too automatic? Download this budget template to stay on top of every single purchase. A good guideline for how much money should be going towards what is the 50/20/30 rule: 50 percent of your income towards essentials like rent, 20 percent towards savings and 30 percent towards non-essentials (the fun stuff). If you’re spending more than your paycheck, start by looking at your non-essential spending. Eating out, entertainment and shopping are the easiest categories to cut back on.
Chip away at those student loans
If you have student loan debt, be prepared. Your loans will enter the repayment period six to nine months after graduation, and you’ll need to pay at least the minimum payment (more than the minimum if possible!) on a set schedule. If you’re unable to make payments, talk to your lenders about forbearance or deferment, which are good ways to help you postpone payments until you have a steady income. Also use resources like the Federal Student Aid website for additional tips and tricks to keeping student loans in check.
Credit Card Debt
The average college graduate leaves school with a $2,000 credit card balance, according to a Nellie Mae study. It’s important to stay on top of these payments and pay your bills on time, since even one late payment can increase your interest rates and damage your credit score. See if you can make that easier immediately (hooray) by calling your credit card company to see if you can reduce your interest rate.
During these tough economic times, you may find that the only work you can land is temporary, but don’t despair: Suze Orman worked as a waitress for seven years before becoming a renowned financial management guru. If you do get full-time work, take advantage of company benefits, including healthcare and retirement plans, especially if your company offers 401K matching, as soon as you start. If your company doesn’t offer a 401(k), then open up an IRA as soon as you have a little extra change to contribute. It’s never too early to start saving for your future!
Following this checklist will help you enjoy your post-grad life more (independence! happy hours!) and avoid getting weighed down by money stress. Even if you can’t implement everything today, make a plan and get started on as many financial goals as possible. Trust us, you won’t regret it.
Are you a new graduate? Tell us about your own money checklist @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
Want to feel motivated to take the next step for your business? Let Office Depot OfficeMax give you the confidence you need with a suite of business services & solutions to help you put your best foot forward. Make a good first impression with business cards & build the business pitch of your dreams with custom presentations. With Office Depot OfficeMax you'll find the tools to reach new customers with confidence.
Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.