Within recent weeks I have seen countless posts on Facebook with friends graduating from university, their joy, plans for great adventures and their overwhelming sense of relief for having finished their 4 years (or more). The last few weeks of college or university are filled with nostalgia, recounting all the memories over the last few years the good and the bad. So I’ve decided to write a letter to a graduate, all of you out there.
Also I want to say congrats to all of those who have graduated in 2013, I hope to do the same next year and can’t wait for the relief as I walk out of my final university exam.
The Stress is over…sort of
Now I know that as soon as you finish your last exam and realize, holy crap I’ve completed my undergraduate degree you’re going to be relieved, happy and excited for the future. The stress of having to scrounge around for a few dollars to afford that night out or to pay for your last grocery bill may be a thing of the past. But there are a few things in what we like to call the real world that might get you a little stressed. I’ve decided to compile a list of things to remember, keep in mind and also some tips that will help you on your way to financial success in the future. Now keep in mind these aren’t perfect, I don’t know everything, but definitely think about these things when you plan your around the trip around the world or maybe just to Europe, start applying to graduate school or even when you sign your first lease.
Write out your goals
This one isn’t just financial but it’s important to write out your goals for your finances, personal well-being, career etc. Put it down on paper, make a word document, slap sticky notes up on your mirror..whatever works for you. It’s really important to write it down whether it be virtual or on paper. The more concrete you make these goals the better.
Make a Plan…sort of
I’m the first one to say..make a plan, plan, plan, plan. But yes life should be spontaneous once in a while. I definitely want to go to the airport one day and just buy a random airplane ticket and go. But there are some things in life that unfortunately require our more mature side like career choices, picking a place to live, and then basically everything that has to do with banking and saving money. You really need to figure out whether or not you really can afford to live away from home during the first few years of your career. It never makes sense to spend 50%+ on rent/housing if you can help it, really consider if you should live with your parents for a few years post graduation..you do have all of those pesky student loans to pay off don’t you? Saving is really important as well, and it sucks that we have to start thinking about it, but the earlier you start saving for retirement the better, even though you know…you’re just starting to work. It is crazy to start thinking about when you will stop working when you’re old and grey, but the more you save earlier the earlier you can stop working…works out nice in the end doesn’t it?
Sort out Your Finances
First things first, the current bank that you are with is going to start charging you to have a chequing account, and they probably won’t notify you that they’re doing it!
Switch to a no fee bank account like PC Financial and you won’t have to deal with any fee’s.
Another thing to do is to check up on all of your current loans whether they be credit cards, student loans or lines of credit and figure out a plan to pay them off or find a way to reduce your interest fees.
Find A Career Path That You Love
The rest of this has been pretty, you know..serious and money focused. But one thing I always say is, make sure that whatever path you choose make it one that you want to be on. As college or university graduates we have the slight luxury of not having to work in any job just so you can survive and eat the next day. Yes, if you choose not to work then you probably wont have any money to afford food or housing but you get the point. Really pick something that you love, you don’t want to be counting down every day until 5pm.
Once again congrats on graduating, enjoy all of the adventures that you go on, the paths you follow. Just please make sure to make financial choices that won’t leave you panicked later in life. I hope this letter to a graduate resonates with all of you, and you realize there are a lot of big choices after grad that you need to focus on to make sure your life is a lot less stressful and chaotic.