As summer approaches, many of you reading this are finishing up college, forever. Some of you are really excited about life after college. Others reading this are now nervous that the end of college is already here. Are you not sure of what to do now that you’ve completed college? Don’t worry because you’re not alone.
Considering the fact that a young 20-something giving advice to college graduates would be as hypocritical as me telling you guys not to drink, I asked me blogging peers to help out. Luckily for me and all of you, I received plenty of feedback on advice for life after college.
I hope you’re ready because some of the top personal finance bloggers have shared their advice for all of you college graduates out there:
Matt Jabs of Debt Free Adventure:
1. Do not assume cultural norms are wise… question everything against properly educated judgment.
2. Thoroughly inspect all decisions and do not minimize enormous life choices.
3. Do not go into debt… ever. If you cannot do this, then limit debt to a mortgage with at least 20% down.
4. Live well below your means and save 25% of your income.
5. If you think any of the previous 4 pieces of advice sound weird or extreme, reread them carefully, then study to prove them wrong before dismissing their relevance.
Must read: Downsize & simplify your life.
Kyle of Amateur Asset Allocator:
1. Nothing is as easy or as difficult as everyone says it is. By the same token, nothing is as great or as bad as everybody says it is. If you spend your life chasing some hard-to-obtain “thing,” you are likely to be disappointed once you finally get it.
2. Travel as much as possible, whenever possible, ESPECIALLY when you’re poor and can’t afford to travel in style. By far my fondest memories in life so far stem from the people I’ve met in run-down hostels. By comparison, staying in 5-star hotels seems sterile and unexciting. I still prefer to travel on the cheap and stay in 16 bed hostels if my travel companions are up for it, even though I can afford a nice hotel.
3. Retirement isn’t a destination. Working 80 hours per week in the hope of ending up rich 50 years from now is silly. You may not live that long. Get your fair share of amazing experiences now, while you’re still young enough to enjoy it.
4. Stuff won’t make you happy. Memories will. Don’t go into debt buying a new car right out of school.
5. Don’t work so much. Nobody ever got ahead by working 80 hours a week. They got ahead by delivering superior results. The good news is, those 80-hour-per-week types are so inefficient, it’s not too difficult to out-compete them working 30 hours.
6. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades. Spend your 20’s learning a lucrative skill very, very well. Then milk it for all it’s worth.
7. Don’t do anything just because that’s what everybody seems to think you should do. The crowd is usually wrong.
Must read: 5 tips to prepare for a layoff in advance.
Ron of The Wisdom Journal:
1. Research a company you’re planning to join as much as you would any financial investment.
2. Never take any job just for the money. Money is important, yes, but more important is the cultural “fit.”
3. Don’t focus on where you’ve been, but on where you’re going. That degree just proves you can finish something. It doesn’t mean you’re ready to run the company.
4. Make sure you don’t overestimate your abilities or your importance to a company. You’re important enough to be hired, but don’t push it.
5. Don’t let short term emotions affect your long term thinking or goals.
Mrs. Micah of Finance for a Freelance Life:
1. Live like a college student for as long as you can after graduation. Continue to enjoy the same inexpensive things you could enjoy during college.
2. When you get your first job, don’t buy a house or a car in the first year. If you desperately need a new car, buy used. Never lease a car. Make inroads on your student loans instead, or save up for those purchases if you don’t have loans.
3. Don’t be afraid to apply for interesting jobs outside your major. You may have the basic skills to make them work anyway.
4. Start saving for retirement as soon as you get a job.
5. Don’t give up if your first job sucks. Build what skills you can and start searching for another job.
Lynnae of Being Frugal:
1) Make a plan for your money. People hate the word budget, but if you don’t make a plan for your money, you’ll find it just disappears.
2) Don’t try to live like your parents. It took them years to work up to owning a nice house and nice cars. Work hard and live below your means, and you’ll get there too.
3) Don’t be afraid to fail. You’re young and now is the best time to try new things. You may fail several times before figuring out what works for you. That’s OK. Sometimes we learn the most from our failures.
Must read: How to make a budget that works.
Mike of Four-Pillars:
1) Don’t assume you will get a good high paying job right out of school.
2) Don’t borrow money or obtain student loans because you think it will be easy to pay back once you start working.
3) Don’t assume that just because you are working and making decent money that you have lots of money to blow. Save, save, save and avoid debt.
4) If you find yourself unemployed after graduation then do something useful. Either get a different kind of job/volunteer/travel – something.
Do a bit of traveling/figuring out where you want to land next. If you have some debt,try and get a stable job fairly quickly so that you can pay that down. Find stability and do your passion on the side. Just try and keep living like you’re in college still. Avoid upgrading every thing in your life just because you’re done with school.
Must read: Advice for new college graduates.
Pete of Bible Money Matters:
My advice to recent graduates in the month after graduation? Don’t assume that you’ll find your dream job right away and that you’ll be working there for the rest of your life. Especially if you have debt, be open to finding a job that will pay the bills and be a stepping stone to your future career. Pay off all of your debt as soon as you can because being debt free will open up so many options to you. Get that steady income from a job, and work on the things you love on the side, and work towards making them a full time dream if you want.
Finding a job after college can be a lot like finding a new job after you’ve been laid off. You may not always find the perfect job, but finding a good job that pays the bills isn’t impossible.
Must read: Finding a job when you’ve been laid off (or when you’ve just graduated college).
Green Panda Treehouse:
I would suggest to new graduates to be open to moving for a place that has a decent paying job that you enjoy and is an affordable place. Some people know what their dream job is, but many still don’t know what they want. Be patient with yourself.
Don’t just chase the money, but be smart and make sure you have a reasonable cash flow. Living in an expensive city can rob the joy even from a good job.
I’d also tell graduates to keep living like a poor college student for a year or two more until you have an emergency fund up and paid off any credit card debt.
Ben of MoneySmartLife:
1) Don’t work too hard, you’ll look back in 10 years and wonder where the time went.
2) Max out retirement account contributions while your expenses are low. If you have a family someday you’ll have a lot less disposable income and you’ll be glad you invested a lot early.
3) Actively seek out jobs that reward you for your time. Don’t keep working hard in hopes that someday you’ll get promoted because that day may never come or might come much later than you hoped.
Ryan of Cash Money Life:
You’re out of college and now is the time to focus on the glory, the money, the girls, the nice cars, the expensive vacations, and the huge house. You’re a college graduate now, and you deserve it. Or not.
If you can’t tell, I’m being just a *little* sarcastic. Now is the time to focus on building a solid foundation for the rest of your life. One of the best ways to do that a young age is to achieve financial flexibility. Chances are very good that you will go through a lot of change in the next few years- you may change jobs, move to a new city, get married, have children, start a business, etc. Having financial flexibility will allow you to more easily adapt to these major life changes.
What does it take to achieve financial flexibility? Establishing an emergency fund is the clear first choice. The next thing to do is get out of debt and avoid taking on new debt. From there, start a savings plan that will allow you to build a short term savings for major purchases (house, car, wedding, etc.), and long term savings. It’s not the sexiest plan in the world, but it will give you the flexibility to make choices instead of having your decisions made in advance.