Life Post College: Don't Whiteout Your Finances
So you barely survived the 4+ best years of your life , but you did manage to conquer frat house toilet seats after late night partying, you never got caught using that fake ID, and you did earn a degree while also learning to set up a mean tailgate reciting the names of everyone in your fraternity/sorority backwards and forwards. Despite this bustle of achievements, life post college can be quite the mental kamikaze for most. Especially the financial parts.
Here are a few random picks of knowledge to help you avoid “whiting out” your finances are conveniently listed below.
1. Stock Up On Folders: Yes, folders. Those things you find in scary file cabinets in your office. Losing important papers can be quite the sobering experience. “Hey, mom, can you fax me another copy of my birth certificate like yesterday because I have a job interview in 10.” Once parents catch on to your irresponsible habits – as simple as they may seem – they will refuse to let you leave Neverland. Neverland is not a good place to be stuck in with your parents. Try to prove to them you can, eventually, grow up. Tabs could possibly be labeled as such: Apartment (rental insurance papers, rental agreements); Student Loans (loans agreements, printed updates on what has been paid); Work (initial salary agreements, benefit explanations), ect. The key to successfully utilizing your newly purchased folders is organization and making sure all these documents are stored in a safe place.
2. Don’t Wait To Save: Whether you’re claiming to be scraping by living paycheck to paycheck and still taking the guys up on happy hour offers or your parents are still paying the tab for the time being and you are spending all of your money on new “work attire,” then you have room to save. If you already have a savings account, great; if not I demand you get to your bank during your next lunch break. You can never start saving too early or save too much – our current economy is proof of this fact. I’m not telling you to cut back because I’m not wasting this article on spouting off advice you’ll never use, but what I am saying is everyone can afford to put even a tad bit back each week or month to begin building their savings.
3. Put A Checkmark Beside The 401K Box: Utilize your company’s retirement plan beginning on your first day – don’t hold off a few years until you feel you are making more dough and don’t hold off with the thought in mind that you will eventually set up a Roth IRA that will blow your company’s lousy 401K plan out of the water. Life moves fast, and once you’re used to not having that small portion deducted from your paycheck then you are way less likely to feel it necessary. Some employers even match a portion of your contributions, which means your savings have a chance to double. A good thing to keep in mind is that small retirement savings contributed in your early post grad years will earn you more in compound interest than starting a late retirement plan that you are putting large amounts of money into.
4. Auto-Pay As Much As Possible: Not paying your bills on time doesn’t always mean you don’t have the money – most of the time it means you forgot when your bills were due or you were praying the electric company forgot to read your meter. Either way, putting your pills on auto-pay can have real benefits: earn you a good credit score with little effort, less worries each month, no late charges, and at times even a lower interest rate. Holding off on paying monthly bills will do nothing but harm – they won’t walk away from you even if you walk away from them. Bill collectors are like Big Brother – they will find you.
5. Mobile Banking: You most likely have an iPhone, Blackberry, Andriod or some odd collaboration of the sort. It is called a Smartphone for a reason and either you, your parents or your work pays for you to use it smartly. Download a free mobile banking app and then use it – frequently. Set update alerts for weird account activity, when your account reaches a minimum balance, when auto-debits are deducted, ect. A really useful tool I found was www.Mint.com - it’s a free personal finance software that actually does come in handy. Spend a few minutes shelling out all your personal info – even your deep, dark secrets of how much really spend at the bars each week – and it will give you calculations as often as you’d like on where accounts stand, how long it will be before your loans are paid in full, when you can afford to buy that new car, ect. I will warn you though, I have gotten several notifications (while still at the bar) that I had gone over my bar budget for the week and it was only Monday. Showing your parents you can be this responsible so early in the game will help you in the long run.
Life Post College can be summed up in four words: sarcastic, single, Southern Belle. She adores a good happy hour, stand-up comedy, the outdoors, high heels, SEC football and occasionally her PR job. Follow her blog and check out her rants daily via Twitter @LifePostCollege – as she enjoys #lifepostcollege like any good sorority alumnae would.