Making the Financial Move from College to the Working World
Some people find it difficult to make the leap from college into the working world. While I certainly felt it was a learning experience, it didn’t find it all that hard.
There were a few surprises along the way though.
While I had the college experience as an important precursor to officially cutting off the financial umbilical cord with mom and dad, there were still certain things for which I wasn’t fully prepared.
I found the following aspects of the transition valuable, and that it took a little time to develop the skills necessary to cope with them when out on my own.
Learning What Things Costs
When you have relied on mom and dad to provide groceries, pay utilities, cover medical and insurance costs, and foot the bill for certain other expenses, it can be a rude awaken to hit the college world and have to start paying for some of these items yourself. I had never paid a utility bill, really never gone grocery shopping on my own, or dealt with similar such expenses on a personal basis.
Yet college still didn’t fully provide me with the spending background to understand what it was really like living — and spending — out on my own.
I quickly found by learning what stuff costs that I could better prepare for the shock that was to accompany the arrival of various bills, and better decide how to minimize a variety of expenses. From groceries and utilities to furniture and appliances, having an idea how much a variety of items might run kept me from making poor money decisions and look for ways to cut costs.
While I didn’t want to wait forever, I found that there was no real rush to get into things like my company 401k plan, stock purchase plan, and make similar investments. While I eventually invested money in these areas, I really didn’t have the ability to start off taking full advantage of them.
I know that many financial advisors may push for getting into such investments as quickly and at as young an age as possible, I decided instead to pay off student loan debt and build a small emergency fund before starting to invest in these other options.
Bill Pay and Budgeting
I realized early on that it was beneficial to organizing my newly independent financial life that I get a good grasp upon my expenses. Starting to track expenses and using the information I gathered from my tracking to formulate a budget, allowed me to better plan how I was going to utilize the remainder of my money, as well as determine where I could cut costs or save a little extra on an income that was already fairly meager.
Planning for the Unknown
When a big expense or emergency hit in college, mom and dad were there if I needed a little extra financial support — although I rarely did. And while they may still have been an option in an emergency as a young adult, I liked to handle things on my own. I therefore took to building an emergency fund shortly after graduation.
After paying off student loans, I began building a short-term emergency fund of several months’ expenses. This excess cash I put into a certificate of deposit and government savings bonds. These were places where my money could earn some interest, but at the same time were available (albeit with a penalty) in an emergency.
While I never had to dip into these areas, they provided nice piece of mind in a time during which I was still getting established in my career and learning how the “real world” worked.
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Disclaimer: The author is not a licensed financial professional. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.