Eight Money Lessons for New College Grads

College graduates dealing with financial issuesAfter Pomp and Circumstance, commencement speeches, congratulations, champagne and celebrations, comes life. College grads who get off to a good start can build solid foundations for their financial futures.

Given that, the best present for any recent grad is -- surprise -- a little more education. But not the kind found in a textbook.

Here's a crash course in Money 101.

Lesson 1: Make Money

Work hard at getting the best "first job" you can to help you meet your needs, whether they be financial, career aspirations or personal interests, advises Stacie Berdan, author of Get Ahead By Going Abroad.

Learn the art of networking. Professors, deans and guidance counselors are all potential sources of referrals, job opportunities and references. "A good referral or reference can be the difference between being hired and remaining another resume on the stack," says Winnie Sun, founding partner of Sun Group Wealth Partners.

Be flexible. The job market, while better, is still less than healthy. You may not get your dream job, but any paycheck beats zero income.

If the market proves really tepid, don't rule out unpaid internships that provide valuable experience and contacts that can boost your job opportunities later. "Don't sit around and do nothing. Write a blog or start a YouTube channel, volunteer in your field, or use your expertise to help friends and family," says John Strelecky, author of How To Be Rich and Happy.

Clean up your electronic footprint. "It's not cute for a future employer to find you guzzling beer or flashing your funny business on your Facebook wall," says Ken Kamen, president of Mercadien Asset Management. "More and more employers are checking online, so make sure that your social media sites would make your grandmother proud to show her friends."

2. Pay Yourself First

Start saving immediately. Ideally, shoot to save 10% to 15% of what you earn, but even investing a small amount, say $25 a week, can have tremendous long-term impact, especially when you're in your 20s and your money has decades to reap the rewards of compounding.

Make it easy on yourself. Have money automatically taken from your paycheck and deposited directly into savings.

3. Throw Whimsy Out the Window

You're a grownup now. The days of "winging it" are over. Develop a plan for your spending early on. Determine how much you will need for rent, groceries, and other expenses. "Once you begin receiving a paycheck, it will likely be more money than you've ever had, but it can be very easy to quickly wind up with the cash slipping away without a clear idea of where it has gone," says Bill Druliner, a counselor with GreenPath Debt Solutions.

Track expenses and if you find yourself blowing your budget, make adjustments immediately in your spending.

4. Buy Strategically

You know all about Groupon, but the deals don't start and end there. Clipping coupons isn't just for little old ladies. Invest time online and off, to get the best deals on everything from groceries, household items to entertainment.

Study up. You'll also need to investigate things you never thought much about before such as health insurance. Because you're young and relatively healthy, it might be relatively inexpensive to purchase health insurance yourself. With health care reform, reminds Carrie McLean, an insurance specialist with eHealthInsurance.com, you can retain coverage under your parents' health insurance policy until you're 26. However, "Break out the calculator. Find out how much it costs your parents to keep you on their policy and compare that with quotes from health insurance companies in your area to see if it makes more sense to buy coverage on your own," says McLean. You may also get coverage through your employer.

5. Be Patient

Forget what it was like to have the Bank of Mom and Dad. Learn to wait for what you need.
Instant gratification feels good, but long-term is detrimental to your financial health. "It's an expensive affliction," says Darrell Canby, president of Canby Financial Advisors.

Live within your means. "Do not buy anything unless you have the cash to pay for it in the bank," says Katherine Liola, an Ameriprise financial advisor. Furthermore, she says, "Do not buy a car or any large purchase that will prevent you from saving and achieving your goals." A 3-year-old car with low mileage is a better deal than buying new, notes Bill Martin, a certified financial planner with MassMutual.

Consider delaying getting your own apartment, and instead stay with old roommates or at home. Then, bank all the money you would have spent flying solo. You might even put off grad school to give yourself time to build work experience and financial girth.

6. Respect debt

You once thought SAT scores were important. Now, there's a new number you should hold sacred: your credit score. While a FICO score in the 700 to 850 range wouldn't have gotten you into an Ivy League school, creditors love those numbers. They say you're fiscally responsible.

Don't get in the habit of whipping out credit cards. If you won't be able to pay the balance in full when the bill arrives, don't charge, because that's probably your best clue that you can't really afford the purchase. And when it comes to credit cards -- as with everything else -- shop for the best deal. You can start your research with the latest report on the best credit cards for new college grads from CardRatings.com.

Treat your student loans seriously. That $20,000 on average that students have in student loans must be paid back. Honor that commitment and if you don't have a job lined up, contact your student loan provider immediately to ask for a six-month deferment. Most lenders will do this right after you graduate without much difficulty.

"The last thing you want is to start getting negative marks on your credit right away for not making student loan payments on time," says Druliner.

Pull a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com, review it, and make sure you are aware of all of your existing creditors. Know too, that a poor credit report might lead potential employers to take a pass on hiring you.

7. Invest for Retirement

You've barely finished displaying your shiny new diploma, so retirement may not be at the top of mind -- but it should be. "The best time to start planning for retirement is the day you start working," says Canby. If a 21-year-old invests just $2,000 a year for 10 years, at 10% interest by age 65, that sum of money would grow to $895,761 says Canby.

Participate in your employer-sponsored retirement plan as soon as you are eligible. Contribute at least enough to qualify for the full amount of the employer's match if it offers one.

8. Know What Counts Most

You're still somewhat wet behind the ears, no one expects you to have everything figured out, but you should have a game plan of sorts. "You have to know your values and goals so that you can make decisions in all aspects of your life that are aligned with your goals," says Liola. "This applies to the type of jobs you apply for, to how you spend your money," she adds.

Think short, medium and long-term goals. Each goal should be specific, with activities listed for each of your goals.

You worked hard to earn your degree. Work just as hard on managing your money and the smart choices made today will pay off for years to come.

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Eric Durham

I'm starting a 26-part vlog/blog series on this topic. If you're interested, check it out below:

http://eric-durham.blogspot.com/

February 21 2013 at 2:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dereck

Major Fraud Alert


The entire Federal Banking System under FirstGov has been "Consumed" and "Levied" by way of a Maryland State Circuit/District Court Ruled “Appropriation and Garnishment” of all Future Earnings prior to and after 2004 against Bank Of America by way of the F.D.I.C. Regulations Prohibiting failing Banks from Merging with other failing Banks between the Dates of 08/04/08 and 10/09/09.

Bank of America violated the 21st Century Act: Final Amendments to Regulation CC Section: http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/press/bcreg/2004/20040726/attachment.pdf

seeking reimbursement of Credit, Loan, and Finance Balances as a "Bank Entity" and not a "Nonbank Consumer" as specified on Pages 85 and 86.

The person they sued through a LLC. Debt Collection Company and Law Firm was the "World Fortune Owner" who "Counterclaimed" and won.

Now all Contracts of any Corporations (Including Employment) under the "Controlling Interest" of any Investment Bank Worldwide are "Null and Void", and are also under the stipulated Rules and Regulations of an "Closely-held S Corporation rendering all Employed under Legal Actions against “Domination”, and also means that "No Corporation can hold Shares" officially making every Stock Exchange on the Planet a "Ponzi Scheme" by default.

Businesses owned by the States (Public Corporations) are being sold Stock Shares by Corporations also under the Federal Banking System in this Worldwide "Ponzi Scheme". The World Fortune Company Merrick Inc. Sweden is dissolving Millions and Billions of Dollars from "All Levels of Government"in the U.S. of Financing based upon Years of "negligent inaction" involving this case.

The Federal Government has already been forced to discontinue supplying the Financing States use to pay their debts, Persons in Government Offices may want to begin to take their jobs more seriously, these are different times from 10 Years ago and you will not be accepted civil servants here just because you say you are here to do the right thing.

May 28 2011 at 11:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tes

kids SHOULD be learning financial skills and money management in grade school. unfortunately our school systems fail miserably when it comes to teaching students about money.

May 10 2011 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris Schene

I think there is an over emphasis on "Retirement" savings. I have saved 10-15% of my income (this includes employer matching) for 33 years. I set a series of goals for myself, and if I was ahead of that goal I stopped investing for a while and actually took some of the money out to "live it up", travel, go to Mexico, etc. There is a "balance" there between saving enough and living enough: Heck, statistically speaking 16/100 of you who are the age of 30 will not make it to 65. Are you going to skimp and save and not have any fun when you have nearly a 1/5 chance of never using that money or seeing retirement.

Another really bad mistake many people make is prioritizing their children's education over their own financial will being (any financial planner will tell you this): Any highly motivated family can get a student though college with little or no college savings set aside. There are grants, Work study, loans, Pell Grants, Scholarships and the GI bill. Students should pay for their own school to the degree possible….it makes the appreciate it more and work harder at their studies.

Parents of the bride YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR WEDDING COSTS! This is $30,000 you should not be spending. Split it up among the children, the grooms family and your selves: If the kids are rich or make significant more than you, let them pay for it themselves. That stupid “Family of the bride pays” tradition came about when women did not work and so the man was taking over a support cost from the father of the bride: This is no longer true. Women get degrees in the same percentage as men….in fact, I suggest the groom’s family should pay a dowry if the bride makes more than the groom.

May 08 2011 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
zekandzora

It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you’ve got.

Because the owners of this country don't want that. I'm talking about the real owners now, the BIG Wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions.

Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice! You have OWNERS! They OWN YOU. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the b@lls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I'll tell you what they don’t want:

They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. Thats against their interests.

They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting screwed by a system that threw them overboard 30 years ago. They don’t want that!

You know what they want? They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly crappier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later cause they own this place! Its a big club, and you ain’t in it! You, and I, are not in the big club.

By the way, its the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table has tilted folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care! Good honest hard-working people; white collar, blue collar it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good honest hard-working people continue, these are people of modest means, continue to elect these rich politicians who don’t Care about you.

They don’t care about you at all. And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Thats what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue !@#$ thats being jammed up their @$$holes everyday, because the owners of this country know the truth.

Its called the American Dream,because you have to be asleep to believe it

RIP GEORGE CARLIN--- Goto YOUTUBE and watch this video type in "george carlin american dream"

May 08 2011 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rastafaribacardi

This makes some pretty bold assumptions that most college grads are spoiled brats living on their parent's money until they are in their 20s...

May 08 2011 at 10:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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May 08 2011 at 3:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ebossmanearl

There is a better way if the parents will help. If both student have a student loan and they get to-gether with grandparents and instead of another debt of a large wedding how about the parents of the grrom and bride get to gether and purchase a house 1/2 down by both, buy a new car, furnish the home and include all the expenses heat, water, insurance and all other expenses The children if they can afford the monthly payment may be able to include the student loans in the monthly payment of "Lease to Own" of the home. Both children must be able to the monthy payment of the home including the student loans
This is a way to help your children own a home when they need if not when you go to the great beyond.
Your grandchildren will never move in with you as there will always be a roof over their heads as the parents own the home.
It is very unlikely that the children will as there they have nothing to split as both or one parent owns the home
in the event there is a split of married the person is still responsible for his or her depts and child support.
The worst case is to sell the home and exch parent take out the money they invested and devide the remaing amount between the children. At lease we tried
The grandparents can at tax time split the monthy income and the expenses of the "Lease to Own" home but as the monthly payment must include $50.00 each for profit to each gransparent just put this money in a retirement fund. this method will cost the grandparents almost nothing only the down payment thast can be recovered when they turn the ownership of the home as decided in the lease. The children mortgage the home and at that time the parent can keep the amount of their original investment.
"LEASE TO OWN" IS A VERY IMPORTANT TO AVOID CAPITAL COST AND ALL MUST WANT THIS TO HAPPEN
There is no better way for Grandparent to help their children and notice I said MARRIED. THANKS EARL

May 06 2011 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
deefrseely

With MANDATED VARIABLE RATE loans- by the time these kids graduate- they cannot afford to pay student loans -let alone invest or keep a dime- all because they were promised free education - or some big promises -for a vote. hmmm how did that work out for you ? but not realizing that it wasn't for middle class American students. - All personal college loans - variable rates -mandated and snuck in under the -you got it- pass it so we can see what's in it- Health/death Bill.- Check it yourselves. Just call and ask Sallie Mae or any bank of your choosing.

May 06 2011 at 8:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe Templin

You completely missed protecting the biggest asset of a new college grad: their income stream. Disability insurance planning is critical for a new grad because if there is no income, there are no finances to plan.

May 04 2011 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply