Personal Finance 

Your Take: Tips for New Graduates

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MicrophoneHopefully you’ve enjoyed this week’s New Graduate Guide series and, even if you aren’t a new graduate, learned a little something that you can use in your daily life. If you know any new graduates, or soon to be new graduates, I hope you can send them a copy of the Bargaineering 2010 New Graduate Guide so they may avoid some of the mistakes and mis-steps I may have taken so many years ago.

As I mentioned from the onset of the series, these series are made all the better with your contributions. I’ve probably learned way more from you than you have learned from me (for that I thank you!) and today I wanted to read your best tips for new graduates. It can be as simple or as complex as you want, the microphone is yours and you can share whatever you think is useful for someone just entering the world.

What is your best tip(s) for new graduates?

(Photo: visual_dichotomy)

{ 18 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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18 Responses to “Your Take: Tips for New Graduates”

  1. Diana says:

    From a financial perspective, moving in with your boyfriend (or girlfriend) is usually a bad move. I know maybe like 3 people it’s worked out for long term. And more than 20 who ended up broke (me!) or lacking dignity by being forced to see their ex everyday until they can afford to move out.

    Also not recommended: moving in with roommates you KNOW are financially irresponsible. Even if she’s your best friend or he’s your brother.

  2. Josh says:

    My best advice is to try to remember your actual means. Listen to others instead of trying everything on your own. These are two things I wish I would have done better, then I would not be living with my parents now, lol! 🙂

  3. Anthony says:

    I consider myself pretty lucky. I am only about 2 1/2 years out of college, and I feel my financial situation is in order. Yes, I still have debt and I could be saving more. But at least I KNOW what my goals are and what I’m working towards.

    The single best advice, coming from a recent graduate, is to get to your “Aha!” moment, where you realize that you control your financial destiny. Without this “Aha!” moment, you will never get out of debt, always live an unpredictable (financial) lifestyle, and will have to work for the rest of your life.

  4. HT says:

    Invest early, and invest often, even if it’s not much, you should always be saving, and building up short term reserves, and long term capital.

  5. DIY Investor says:

    Get your money to work for you not against you.

  6. Stacey says:

    Live like a college student for as long as possible… and save the money that you’re not spending for a house downpayment or retirement. Ignore what your friends are doing as they go out and by new cars, houses they can’t afford, and the newest electronics. You know better. 😉

    My biggest regret (honestly!) was paying off my 3.5% student loans as quickly as possible. I should have been stuffing that money in an IRA. We’re still ahead of the curve when it comes to savings, but we’d be even better off if I hadn’t lost those two years of contributions.

  7. Shirley says:

    On your list of monthly necessities to be paid, put the name of your savings account. That is actually a need, not a want, and should be non-negotiable. Don’t cheat yourself.

  8. cdiver says:

    Don’t ever get married unless your financial decisions and goals are in line with each other. The second income if there is one will surely be consumed by both parties attemping to purchase happiness to cover the stress of not working together to acomplish shared goals.

  9. lostAnnfound says:

    Don’t use credit cards unless you can pay them off each month IN FULL. It’s easy to get sucked into buy now, pay later, so unless you actually have the money to pay off the CC when the bills comes in, don’t use it.

  10. There are two tips that I think are invaluable to new graduates. The first is to be aware of lifestyle inflation. There will be a great deal of temptation now that you have a full time paying job to go out and spend like a baller. You may be tempted even more because your classmates will also have an inclination to spend money. But it’s much much easier to pick a particular lifestyle and slowly grow as you earn more. Learning to curb your spending is often a much more difficult feat. Focus on the big wins. Things like your first (or maybe next) car, or your first apartment. The big ticket items will ultimately have a much larger impact on your financial well-being.

    The second tip is to learn to pay yourself first. Set up direct deposits to savings accounts, or investment accounts. Or if your employer doesn’t allow for that then set up automatic transfers from your main checking account. If you build saving as part of your routine, it’ll eventually become second nature.

    Here’s a post I wrote a while back about paying yourself first.

  11. eric says:

    Not much to say other than make goals and save to get there. It’s super easy to blow all your paycheck when you’re young with no real commitments, and borrow ridiculously to finance the things you can’t afford on your salary.

  12. Agintx says:

    Take a tip from the book “The Richest Man in Babylon.”


    Not including your 401K contributions, take 10 per cent of every dollar you make and save it. And never touch it. Just save it, and eventually use it to make even more money (investing or compound interest).

    But you have the right to keep any percentage you choose. Starting at 10 per cent is only a good rule of thumb.

  13. zapeta says:

    Pay yourself first, and live like a college student and save the difference!

  14. I have two tips for graduates.

    The first is to save as much as you can. I know that many college students are poor, but don’t blow all the money you make in summer or side jobs on crap that you won’t remember what you spent it on. There are many things I bought throughout high school and college that I can’t seem to think of why I wasted my money on them. AT the time, I was excited to get the item, but I regret buying them as I look back.

    The second is take a chance. I wish I would have taken more of an initiative to try and take a risk by becoming an entrepreneur at just after graduating college. I had no expenses nor responsibilities to worry about. It’s never too late to start your own company, but it’s makes it a lot easier when just graduating.

  15. Michael says:

    Coming from an almost “Graduate”:

    1# You can save good money buying coupons on ebay (Yes coupons). Watch the expiration dates and shipping charges, but this is a good way to save money. Usually you will end up paying $3 for around $20 worth of coupons for a single product. BOGO, 1$ off, etc.. Depending on the product, this method can make items cheaper than shopping at discount stores such as walmart or costco. For calculating how many coupons you need, setup a weekly or biweekly grocery list. Using this, you can calculate coupons that can be used before expiration.

    2# If you want to go to a movie, hit up ebay or costco. Ebay ranges 5$ per ticket and costco is around 15$ per ticket. A far cry from the 9$ a ticket you pay at the box (of course surcharges apply for certain movies).

    3# If you have a coffee habit, hit up eBay. A free drink coupon can cost anywhere from 2$-3$. Considering some drinks cost upwards to 5$, shaving off 2$ on a monthly or weekly habit can add up.

    4# Learn to manage credit cards. They are a double edged sword. Master them, and you can leverage them to your advantage, handle them loosely, and you will fail miserably. You can use 0% cards to float money, but if you do so, have the money to pay it off at a minutes notice. In college, I would float 3-6k on a 0% promotion card for 11 months. At the same time, i put the money into a safe investment yielding 5-6% (municiple ETF’s is what i used at the time) and made 50$ for every 1000$ i floated. If you use this method thinking “Oh, ill save the money next month” then you shouldn’t try to do this.

  16. cdiver says:

    Move back in with your parents and pay them rent.

  17. Sean Murphy says:

    I graduated from a private university one year ago. The greatest thing I had to get over is that no body cares what you think anymore. Unless you are in academia or a research field, it really only matters what you can do or produce. It is time to get used to living in an economy.

    Also, realize that you will make mistakes. A lot of them. Get used to living in the real world where you cannot get things corrected by the prof, your advisor, the dean or your parents.

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