College Grads: Welcome to the other side. Here are 9 tips for post-graduate life.

1. Student loans are no longer a number you’ve ignored for four years.

You have your diploma in-hand, you’ve walked the aisle, spent four plus hours fidgeting at your graduation ceremony. You’ve earned this. It’s your college degree. Just when you think college - and all of its studying, tests and lectures - is behind you, it’s not. Now, you have a pile of student debt that will haunt you for the next ten years. It’s too late now to look back - it’s time to look ahead to a bright and cheery future…a debt repayment plan! 

Tips:  (1) Don't miss the first payment, put a reminder on ALL of your calendars, and (2) Start paying early if you can. The average debt load for students is $35K, so it is wise to stay on top of your repayments, and to get out of debt quickly. 

2.  Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 is your new schedule.

Weekends that start on Thursday and days that end at noon are no longer a thing. Say good-bye to two hour breaks during the day. Get prepared for an 8 to 5 schedule, Monday through Friday. 

Prep Tips:  Slowly set your alarm earlier and earlier each day; get into a scheduled routine; get used to functioning at your best during an eight to five timeframe; research how to be productive

3. Credit is something you’ll need, and have to build.

Credit is something you’re hopefully already familiar with because it plays a huge role in some major life purchases that will soon be coming your way. A good credit score comes with a history of making payments on time on your credit card, loans, and other bills. It proves that you’re a responsible borrower when it comes time for you to borrow money. 

Tips:  Always pay your bills on time. You can schedule automatic transfer payments right from your checking account to ensure you pay the bills each month. Getting behind can hurt your credit score, and your finances, in the long run. Learn more about credit and your credit score

4. You now realize the difference between wants and needs.

After college, there is a new sense of independence. Now, you’re truly responsible for the next steps in your life, and that means making smart decisions with your money. Now that you’re paying for everything, the difference between things you want and things you need becomes clear.

5. Living with your parents might happen.

Live within your means and continue sharing living expenses. Get a roommate(s), so that you don't have to afford living all on your own. If you're not sure what your plan is, live at home for free until you get things figured out. The extra money you save can go toward the security deposit on a new place.

6. The year is 12 months, not two semesters and a summer.

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7. You have to start making intense decisions.

For example, what should be your priority:  paying off student debt faster, or contributing to your retirement? But seriously, which comes first? 

8. You spent thousands of dollars on an education yet still lack critical life skills.

Keep learning! Develop your professional skills, like how to network, and attend seminars that will help you with your personal and professional growth. Making an effort will pay off! 

9. Your first job may not be your dream job.

Realize that your first job might not be your final stop. Continue to pursue possibilities and opportunities. Push yourself, and never get too comfortable. 

Take care! 

Mallory