Five Money Lessons for New College Grads

CAROL’S SUMMARY: This spring, as the article below indicates, graduates will face a tough economic climate. But the smartest grads who actually have the discipline to be conscious of their spending, saving and ability to delay gratification will set themselves up for long term financial success and open the greatest number of job options during thick and thin. Grads need to avoid credit card debt and realize that their credit score in life will be with them forever. So, taking the bus or riding your bike to work or walking if that is possible, may be better than being saddled with car payments each month.

Second, grads need to think carefully about who they decide to live with, sign leases with and know fully the tiny print in legal documents that may be binding. If you are not with trustworthy friends, don’t agree to share an apartment with them when they may eat your food or default on the rent which will then impact your credit. Choose your friends wisely and protect yourself.

Finally, think about the most creative ways you can earn money and save it. Work two jobs this summer. Live off the income from one and use the other job to pay down student loans and/or save for the future. Developing financial discipline is not only good for you personally, but it will be expected of you in any job you secure at a level which pays more than minimum wage.


May 3, 2009

This spring’s college grads are heading out into a world where jobs are tough to come by. The economic outlook is uncertain and all the older people they know are feeling the pain of stock-market losses.

Worse, there are all kinds of nitty-gritty details to deal with: opening bank accounts, choosing health insurance, finding an apartment, lining up transportation and figuring out how to invest. How is a young person supposed to get ahead in this environment?

It’s not easy to master money management during the best times and it’s especially hard to navigate the challenges of a recession. Still, many of the same basic principles apply in good times and bad. And getting a taste of a downturn at the start may make current graduates smarter and more thoughtful than those who graduate during boom times.

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