For many college students, graduation is a major turning point. While they are already considered adults, graduation is a sort of arrival that marks their entrance into “the real world,” where decisions matter. As you graduate college, make sure your decisions lead you to a path of financial security with these seven steps to financial stability.
1. Live within Your Means
Your financial situation may change significantly when you graduate college and enter the workforce. Make sure your spending is in line with what you are actually making after taxes by sitting down and making a budget. Budgeting doesn’t have to be hard; simply list all of your expenses, including savings and fun money, and make sure that amount is less than what you make with a little wiggle room added in. If not, determine how you can cut expenses or add income until your budget balances. Then stick to it.
2. Set Aside Money in an Emergency Fund
Every month be sure to set money aside in case of an emergency. If you should ever lose your job or become ill and rack up medical expenses, you will be glad that you have money to fall back on. Financial expert SuzeOrman suggests an 8 month emergency fund.
3. Establish a Good Credit Score
While a missing or late payment here or there might not seem like a big deal, it can cost you down the road when you are unable to get a loan due to your poor credit score. Take steps to establish a good credit score by opening various types of accounts and keeping them in good standing. Be careful to pay all your bills on time and check your credit report regularly for any suspicious activity.
4. Be Careful with Accumulating Debt
With stores always offering buy now pay later promotions, getting into debt is really easy. While accumulating some debt is okay, be careful not to overextend yourself buying things you can’t afford. Even if you can make the payments now, there is no guarantee for the future.
5. Make Student Loans a Priority
Unlike other kinds of debt, student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. The only ways to get rid of them are to pay them off or die. Never skip payments on your loans. If you are having financial hardships, talk to your lender about possible repayment plans and see what they can do for you.
6. Get Adequate Insurance
When you are young and healthy it can be hard to think about things like life and health insurance, but accidents and illnesses rarely give warning. Make sure you are properly covered now because you never know what costly accidents could happen down the road.
7. Choose the Right Job
If you have a choice about which job to take, make sure to evaluate your options carefully. Don’t just look at the pay. Look at the benefits and perks. Look at the potential for raises and promotions. Consider aspects such as gas mileage to and from work. You may want the job that offers less money at first, but more long-term security.
While it would be nice if people could predict the future and know when disaster would strike, it simply isn’t possible. Set yourself on the path of financial security, however, and you’ll sleep better at night knowing you are prepared for whatever financial mishaps head your way.
Lee Reams II is the CEO of ClientWhys, a leading provider of tax-related educational material and marketing products for accountants and tax professionals. When Lee is not busy running the company, he enjoys spending time doing outdoor activities with his wife and daughter.