Graduating college is exciting and overwhelming all at once. While you may “technically” be an adult during college, it can be easy to feel like you’re in an insulated environment.
Your parents may be covering a lot of your costs, your student loan payments might not be due yet, and you might not have to think a lot about insurance or other elements of “adulting.”
The more proactive you can be, the better, and you need to prepare yourself for the shock that can come with leaving college and the real world.
The following are tips and things to know if you’re preparing to leave college.
There are certain kinds of insurance you’ll have to get if you’re graduating from college that your parents may have been covering otherwise. One example is car insurance. It can cost more to insure a 22-year-old driver than it will cost you to have car insurance when you’re older, so prepare yourself for that. You can usually shop around and find deals, however.
You might also be exploring health insurance, although you can technically stay on your parents’ plan until your 26.
If you can’t stay on your parents, plan for any reason, or you’re not on it currently, one option is to see if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. You might also be able to enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) program.
If you’re under 30, you can buy a catastrophic health plan, which can help protect you against certain serious situations like an accident or a severe illness.
Go Where the Jobs Are
It can be intimidating, but when you graduate college, you may need to move, and if so, you should move to where the jobs are. There are certain cities in the U.S. that are better than others for job growth and employment, and this may vary depending on your desired field or industry.
Regardless of where you live or where you plan to move, you should also start connecting with alumni from your school right away so that you can network and build valuable relationships.
Your college will have alumni resources that can help you immensely as you start your post-college adult life.
Set Up An Emergency Fund
If you’re like most college students, even if you worked while you were in school, you probably weren’t too concerned about saving money.
When you graduate, one of the most important things you can do is start saving money right away.
Even if you put aside only a tiny amount of money, you should launch an emergency savings account right out of college.
An emergency fund is one of the very first financial goals you should focus on right out of college.
When you have an emergency fund, you have a cushion of protection against the unexpected, and it can help alleviate financial stress in your life.
Something is always better than nothing when it comes to an emergency fund.
Track Your Spending
Beyond an emergency fund, the next financial goal you should set for yourself post-graduation is tracking your spending so that you can then start to develop a realistic budget for yourself.
So many people are shocked when they see how much money they spend, often unnecessarily.
If you start out your adult financial life by tracking your spending, you won’t be in the position where you’re shocked, and you can start with a clean slate of good financial habits.
Get a Credit Card
If you don’t already have your own credit card, when you graduate, get one.
You might think that’s a bad financial decision, but it’s not as long as you use it correctly.
Choose a credit card with a low-interest rate if possible, and use it only very minimally to the point that you can pay it off right away. This helps you build credit so that in the future, you can make bigger purchases such as a car or home.
If you worry about your ability to stop yourself from overspending, a secured credit card puts a cap on how much you can spend because it’s like a checking account, but it’s still beneficial for your credit history.
Finally, start learning life skills such as grocery shopping and cooking. Work on learning how to keep track of your bills and train yourself on things that will bring you value for the rest of your life. It can be an adjustment, but use the time right after you graduate wisely to set yourself up well for the rest of your life.