Your Financial Life After Graduation
By Jason Alderman
To the millions of college and high school seniors who recently graduated (and to their parents, who weathered the ups and downs of reaching that summit): congratulations on a job well done. After the celebration dies down, you’ll no doubt be eager to embark on life’s next chapter, whether it’s finding a job, preparing for college or enrolling in military or community service.
Before you jump in feet first, however, let me share a few financial lessons I learned the hard way when I was just starting out. They might save you a lot of money in the long run and help you get closer to your life goals, whether it’s buying a house, starting a family or even retiring early – as far off as that may sound.
First, pretend you’re still a starving student. After landing your first full-
After you’ve factored in rent, car payments, renter’s and car insurance, credit card charges, student loan balances and other monthly bills (not to mention payroll taxes such as Social Security tax, which went up 2 percent this year), your new salary probably won’t go as far as you’d like, especially if you’re trying to save for one of those life events.
That’s where a budget can help. Numerous free budgeting tools, including interactive calculators, are available at such sites as the government-
To know where you stand, review your credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to find out whether any negative actions have been reported and to look for errors or possible fraudulent activity on your accounts. You can order one free report per year from each bureau if you order them through www.AnnualCreditReport.com; otherwise you’ll pay a small fee.
You worked hard to graduate. Just make sure you don’t sabotage your efforts by starting out on the wrong financial footing.
(Jason Alderman directs Visa’s financial education programs. To Follow Jason Alderman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PracticalMoney)