This article is part of a series called Graduating? which focuses on personal finance advice for fresh college grads. This particular article is a guest post written by Jonathan of Master Your Card.
So you finally finished college, eh? Nice one! Welcome to the real world™. The following tips should help to reduce the culture shock a little…
– Get serious about Personal Finance. Paying your bills on time and learning to live on a budget won’t ruin your non-conformist image, trust me. On the other hand, there’s nothing particularly ‘alternative’ about getting your electricity cut off and having to subsist on uncooked ramen noodles until your parents bail you out.
– Keep in touch with your college buddies. Remember that girl you threw up on at the kegger? She’s going to help you land an awesome job some day – but only if you drop her a line once in a while. Remember, it’s not what you know — it’s who you know. Note: This is not an excuse to spend 17 hours a day trawling Facebook.
– Pay off the plastic. College is a time for experimentation, and it’s only natural that you tried some pretty shady things — like charging things to your credit card. But that period of your life is over now. It’s time to put all that stuff behind you and start paying off your high interest revolving debts as quickly as possible.
– Start planning for the future. One of the strange things about college is that despite all the newfound freedom, to a large extent your goals are set out for you. Study for your English test. Start working on that marketing paper. The real world™, on the other hand, is a little less linear, and to some extent you’ll need to find your own way through. As liberating as living day-to-day might sound, having a 5 or 10 year plan in place will provide you with far more freedom in the long-term.
– Don’t start spending what you don’t have. Just because you’ve started climbing the corporate ladder and are (hopefully) on your way to earning the big bucks, don’t start spending like you’ve already reached the top. Base any purchases you make on what you earn today, not on what you think you’ll be earning 12 months from now.
– Be prepared to work with morons. On occasion, you are going to have to take orders from an idiot (and pretend to like it). In addition, you’re almost certain to be in close proximity with at least one or two people who give you homicidal tendencies. Remember the big picture, and don’t let the petty stuff get you down.
– And lastly (but most importantly): Don’t let your dreams die. They say experience kills idealism. They’re full of it. The real world will only break your spirit if you let it. Don’t let life’s trials and tribulations turn you into a cynic. After all, the sweet is only as sweet as the sour.
Jonathan writes about the tricky world of credit cards at Master Your Card.