Six Steps to Prepare for Long-Term Success
Graduating from college is a major milestone, but it can also be a daunting time for many young adults as they transition into the “real world”. If you have a recent college graduate in your life, they may be facing a number of financial challenges, from student loan debt to finding their first job. Financial planning may be the last thing on their mind, but you can use your influence and experience to help them see the benefit of taking financial planning steps as a recent college graduate in order to set themselves up for long-term success.
Share the six steps below to help them get started.
Financial Planning for Recent College Graduates Tip #1: Create a Budget
The first step in any financial plan is to create a budget. Don’t think of it as something that constrains you. Rather, consider your budget a tool to balance spending on needs and wants, and to help you achieve your goals. Creating a budget helps you understand where your money is going and where you can make adjustments to save more. Start by listing all of your monthly income and expenses, including rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and any debt payments, such as student loans. Then, look for areas where you can cut back, such as eating out less or finding a more cost-effective apartment. Be sure to set aside some money each month for savings, as well. (More on that below.)
Financial Planning for Recent College Graduates Tip #2: Make a Plan to Pay Off Student Loans
Student loan debt is a major concern for many recent college graduates. If you have student loans, make a plan to pay them off as quickly as possible. Consider consolidating your loans or refinancing them to get a lower interest rate. You may also want to explore income-driven repayment plans, which can reduce your monthly payments based on your income.
Financial Planning for Recent College Graduates Tip #3: Start Saving for Retirement Now
It’s never too early to start saving for retirement – even if you’re in your early twenties. When you begin your first professional job, be sure to take advantage of your employer’s 401(k). If they don’t offer one or you dislike the plan details, you can also open your own individual retirement account (IRA). The earlier you start saving, the more time your money has to grow. Your future self will thank you!
Financial Planning for Recent College Graduates Tip #4: Plan to Navigate Rainy Days
Life is unpredictable, and you never know when you might face an unexpected expense or job loss. That’s why it’s important to build an emergency fund so you won’t be forced into debt on rainy days – or seasons of life. Aim to save three to six months’ worth of living expenses in a separate savings account. This will give you a financial cushion in case of an emergency, and it will give you peace of mind, too.
Financial Planning for Recent College Graduates Tip #5: Understand and Protect Your Credit Score
Your credit score is an important factor in many financial decisions, such as getting a loan or renting an apartment. Make sure you understand what affects your credit score, such as paying bills on time and keeping your credit card balances low. It’s important to protect your credit score, too, so check your report regularly to make sure there are no errors or fraudulent activity. Check out this resource from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to learn more.
Financial Planning for Recent College Graduates Tip #6: Set Financial Goals
Another important step in financial planning for anyone – recent college graduates included – is to set financial goals. These could be anything from saving for a down payment on a house to paying off your student loans by a certain date. Having clear goals will help you stay motivated and focused on your financial plan.
Recent College Graduates Should Begin Financial Planning Now
Graduating from college is a big win and something to be proud of. It’s also a time of significant transition for many people, and it’s important to start off on the right foot financially in order to protect your future. Use the six steps above to take control of your finances now and set yourself up for long-term financial success.
If you’d like to discuss financial planning for recent college graduates, contact an Alphastar Wealth Emerald Coast Advisor today.
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