Don't make career decisions based on dollar amounts.
Think big picture. If you're offered X dollars in New York City, it's not the same as the same amount in Kansas City. You have to evaluate
what you want out of your career and what the benefits are of those decisions. When evaluating job offers, know the difference between benefits and perks. You might think it's cool to be able to throw a Frisbee down the hall, but what's that compared with dental insurance?
Figure out how much you will need up front to move and start your life.
Apartment rentals require deposits
, as do some utility
companies. You may need a moving van, and you may have to wait four weeks for a first paycheck. You have to figure out what you'll need to live on before that first paycheck.
Know what your take-home pay is--it's not as much as you think.
You can't start fashioning a budget
without knowing what you have to work with. A paycheck and the dollars into your hand are not the same thing. You and the married guy next door with three kids will not get the same check for the same salary.
Be realistic about your expenses and essentials.
Some students have lived in an apartment before, but after college it's not a big party and eating your roommates' food late at night. Rather it's time to grapple
with expenses like transportation
, health care, food, entertainment and incidentals. Plan everything. Many students expect to live on $50 a week for food. You will not live on rice and beans. You will go to the deli. You will buy coffee. You don't have to deprive
yourself. Just be realistic
. I don't care if you get a pet snake. Just know how much it costs.
Understand cash flow.
Find out not only exactly how much you'll be paid, but also precisely when, and when your bills will arrive.
Keep an emergency account.
Bad things happen, and they will happen to you. You'll be sick. You'll be hurt. Life will happen to you the same ways it does to everyone else. Be prepared mentally and financially for this reality.
Know when to use a debit card or credit card.
I think students should have credit cards. They are safer from theft than debit cards, and paying off a credit card every month will help a young person build a credit history and, hopefully, a good credit score. However, for routine
purchases like going out to eat, buying gasoline or going to a movie, students should use a debit
card. It will protect you from the typical 'I spent how much this month?' experience. Credit cards should be for major, significant purchases.
Get renter's insurance.
Look carefully at the insurance options provided by your employer. For example, everyone needs worker's compensation
insurance. Financially protect yourself from a roommate who might run off to Puerto Rico
with a security deposit or legal agreement.
Begin contributing immediately to a 401(k) plan or an IRA account.
Even if you start off slow and modest, it will make a huge difference. You may miss the $50 or so you put aside out of each paycheck, but it will grow and grow and save you from panic
Don't be afraid to invest.
A savings account is a risky
investment, because it means you're betting that there won't be inflation
. Diversify, diversify