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How to Master Your Finances After College

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education” — Mark Twain

The following is a guest post from Martin of Studenomics, where he aims to help you be financially free before you hit 30. You need to check out the site to see what he has been working on!

The time is here. You somehow survived college and now you’re free. What do you do? How do you figure out this whole money thing now that you’re supposed to be an adult? How do you behave now?

This is my story of how I’ve been working on mastering my finances in the two years since I’ve been out of school.

I’m not the brightest guy nor do I have a great attention span. So if I can save money, anyone can. Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh right, my story of trying to master my finances.

The first thing I need to mention is that it’s key to be proactive!

Now I understand that things happen. I was lucky. I found a decent part-time job in college, stayed at home, and worked like an animal. I didn’t know any better. I didn’t realize how fun college could be until I started visiting my cousin and my younger brother went away. I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone. Moving away is good. Staying at home worked out for me.

Not everyone will be as lucky as me. I get it. So if you’re younger or in the position to do so, it’s important to be proactive and start planning now.

I shared how I graduated from college debt-free if you want to read it. Let’s move forward.

The five steps to mastering life after college are:

Find an income.

Luckily for me, Studenomics started making me money when I was in college. I never really thought anything of it. I figured that since I wasn’t in debt, I could blog in my spare time and be a professional lounger during the day. I ended up blogging like crazy. Thankfully, my blog income rose over time.

The point of this is that:

You need to make money.

The first step is to find an income. Any income. Any source of money coming in.

You don’t have to blog for money. I was lucky. You can find a part-time job. Two side jobs. A full-time job. Anything that brings you money.

Then you can move forward to the next step…

Kill your debt.

Once you have money coming in, it’s going to be tempting to spend it. I have no idea on Earth how I’ve managed to not buy an iPad yet. I did splurge on a Macbook Air. No iPad yet.

Before you start spending your money on all of those cool things, I have to be the bad guy and remind you that you need to deal with your debt first.

I won’t get into debt strategies on here. I’ve thankfully been able to avoid debt, but I do know how tough it is to stay in the positives. I kindly encourage you to start killing your debt ASAP after college.

My focus is now on debt-avoidance. I want everything. I fight with myself every single day to not use my credit card on random crap.

Build for the future.

What’s next for you? Don’t worry, I just recently started thinking about five year plans. When I was younger I didn’t even have a five week plan.

A few weeks ago an older mentor presented the idea of a five year plan to me. This really opened my eyes. I was clueless. I just want to make money and survive another day. Now I’m doing my best to build towards the future and think about what’s next. I realize that one day I will be thirty and I will be married.

The point here is that we need to remember to think about the future. In the last two years I have been building, but not really thinking about the future. Turning 25 was a kind reminder that I won’t be young forever.

Buy Smart

Shopping around on comparison sites and online department stores (AU readers see oo.com.au) can save you big money.  I would suggest comparing two-three stores at least and finding the best deal for you.

Network.

Now I have to talk about a term that I sort-of can’t stand.

Networking is a scary term for most young folks.

Do we have to wear a suit when we visit a buddy? Does it mean that we must attending networking events?

It doesn’t have to.

For me, networking is about mixing business with pleasure. It’s about making friends out of strangers. It’s about turning business partners into buddies.

I believe in transparency. I’m not one of those people who will have three separate Facebook accounts for every area of life.

Over the last two years, I have gone out of my way to step outside of my comfort zone to meet new people, interesting characters, and folks I have nothing in common with. I’ve gone on trips alone and I’ve turned strangers into solid friends.

I perhaps am a bit too extreme with this.

I do encourage you to get out there and make new friends. You don’t have to go on trips with people you don’t even know that well or hang out with friends from the gym like I do, but you can try meeting one new person per month.

Oh and why bother with meeting new people? You never know who can help you or who you can help.

Finally…

Get wasted/have fun/play board games/let loose.

I don’t want to credit getting wasted for my results, but it does deserve some recognition.

Telling you not to have fun is the dieting equivalent of banning cheat days. It’s not going to happen. You can’t deprive yourself in life.

If you want to get ahead, you really need to budget in the fun stuff. It’s important to have something to look forward it.

Thanks for joining me on my story of what I’ve been trying to do since college to get ahead.

What does your story look like?

Don’t forget to check out Studenomics!

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3 comments to How to Master Your Finances After College

  • I am lucky in that I started PF blogging during college, so I was pretty set afterward. But not everyone is that fortunate to stumble into the world of financial blogging, so learning about it is key!

  • @Daisy it definitely is an amazing community to be apart of. You should check out the conference for financial bloggers.

  • I think I spent a little too much time and money on the “get wasted” aspect after college (and during college). I just turned 26, and didn’t really start thinking hardcore about the financial future until I hit 25. It must be the age where you actually do start to feel old :p