July 3, 2017
Congratulations! You moved your tassel from right to left and now have your diploma in hand. With your college career behind you, you’re looking forward to the many new adventures ahead. Have those post-grad dollar signs started flashing yet? As you enter a new era of financial freedom, you can expect a much greater deal of financial responsibility. There’s no time like now to prioritize smart financial choices and set yourself up for a bright financial future.
Focus on YOUR financial well-being. As a recent graduate, you are likely feeling the pressures associated with making key decisions about your future. If you hear about your peers progressing in their careers or witness flashy social media posts that highlight financial achievements, continue to keep your goals in perspective. It can be easy to compare your career path or financial status to those of friends and acquaintances that you have consistently tracked alongside, but this pressure can sometimes push you to make unfavorable financial choices. Focus on your financial wellness and remember that success and stability take time. Rather than using paychecks to benchmark status, concentrate on your goals. No two financial pictures look exactly alike.
Create realistic savings goals. It can be easy to become wrapped up in new expenses and responsibilities, but now is the time to develop sound savings strategies that will become powerful habits. Though your career is just getting started, prioritizing your retirement savings now will be highly beneficial down the road. There may also be many major expenses in this time of your life. Whether you will need to upgrade your vehicle, want to purchase property, or hear wedding bells coming your way, the costs will keep coming – whether your savings account is ready or not. Consider “paying yourself” in advance to develop a cushion of cash. And remember that post-grad life may also bring a lot of financial surprises so it’s good to have “just in case” money set aside as well.
Control debt to protect your credit. During this transitional stage of life when you’re viewing savings goals differently and getting a better handle of managing your money, it is essential to be cautious of debt. While credit cards can be a helpful tool in some situations, always be mindful of how you are using credit and don’t let it become a crutch. At a point in your life when you have a lot to look forward to and an increasing number of financial expenses to juggle, don’t let debt become a force that can hold you back. Make paying off debts – student loans, credit cards, car payments, etc. – a priority that you budget for each month. The sooner you are free of some of those costs, the sooner you can focus your financial efforts on reaching your next financial goal.
Graduating is a major accomplishment that opens doors to many exciting opportunities. Enjoy the adventures that this stage of life brings while striving to make smart money choices. There are many milestones in life and each will each bring new financial opportunities and challenges. Practice making future-focused financial decisions now and you will be better prepared for the increasing responsibilities to come.