Congratulations! The end of your college career is on the horizon. Soon you’ll be throwing that mortar board in the air and moving on with the rest of your life. All you’ve got to do is get through finals. Right? Not so fast. Do your homework now regarding your finances and add these five tasks to your priority list. You’ll set yourself up for a lucrative and worry-free future using these personal finance tips for college grads.
1. Find a source of income
With summer approaching, you might be tempted to chill, but finding a job is the smarter decision. If you don’t land your ideal job in your field on the first try, don’t worry. According to a LinkedIn study, millennials are likely to change positions four times between graduation and their early 30s. It’s important to find a job so you can pay your bills while you search for your dream job. As an added bonus, work on a side hustle. A recent survey suggests that 50 percent of millennials rely on a second source of income, whether selling wares online or pulling the odd catering shift.
2. Make a budget
The word “budget” might sound a little savage. But creating one helps you get real about your finances, which can then lessen anxiety and prevent any major flubs. Your budget will likely change if you move or get that position you’ve been coveting. But taking stock of what you’re spending right now will help you make the best decisions when negotiating a new lease agreement or a prospective job salary.
3. Tally your credit cards
College can be a tricky time when it comes to paying the bills, buying essentials and having a little fun. You may have wracked up a credit card balance. Make a plan for paying it off before it balloons. Consolidate high card balances into one payment on a low-interest card if possible, and pay more than the minimum. Vow to whip out your card only in emergencies going forward, and use your budgeted cash for everyday stuff instead. You got this!
4. Review your student loans
Nearly three quarters of students graduating from a four-year university have some type of student loan debt, according to Student Loan Hero. Thankfully, most student loans have a six-month grace period after graduation to allow you time to find a means to pay — a.k.a. a job. But as the school year winds down, you should review your terms and look into the lender’s repayment options and requirements so that there are no surprises. Create a roadmap to getting the debt off your shoulders.
5. Set up an emergency fund
Even the smallest of nest eggs can put your mind at ease and help prepare you for an unexpected financial crisis, like a flaky roommate or a bill from the doc. Aim to save up three to six months living expenses (or more) in a no-risk savings account. Open one now and set up small weekly automatic transfers from your checking so that you’re squirreling away about 20 percent of your monthly income. And you thought all those math classes were useless!
Graduating college and taking your next steps in life can be overwhelming – you have to make all sorts of important decisions that previously were not on your radar. Your Farm Bureau agent can help. They can share advice on budgeting, and crucial insurance for your car, your apartment, and your life. If you don’t have an agent yet, find one here.