Five Ways To Set Yourself Up For Success After Graduation (PART II)
Yesterday, we began talking about what you can do to set yourself up for success after graduation. Today, we're continuing with the final two ways you can make the most of adulting.
4. Become Financially Savvy
I majored in finance in college and taught finance to undergrads while in law school, which has taught me how important it is to know the basics of personal finance. We've talked about what the Bible says about money and finances before, but as I eagerly await having a real paycheck after living off part-time income and student loans for a long time, I am also trying to figure out how to manage my finances wisely.
That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing. –1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
A few things to consider (and research) as you start getting a grown-up paycheck:
- Student loans. If you have student loans, how long will it take you to pay off those loans? If you borrowed money from the government, they offer helpful counseling on how to figure out a repayment plan. Consider all your options and see if you can maybe make more than the minimum required amount to pay off your loans faster with less interest. Because really, the best option is to continue to live like a broke student and have the bulk of your initial income go towards student loans.
- Retirement. As I told my students, it's never too early to start saving for your retirement. It's unlikely the social security funding will last around for our generation, and putting away even a tiny amount each paycheck will pay off greatly in the end. Plus, many companies today offer matching programs where they match what you put into your retirement account. Free money, y'all. Take it.
- Health insurance. The Affordable Care Act requires everyone in the United States to carry health insurance. As such, this is another expense you'll have to account for. Fortunately, most employers offer reasonably priced health benefits for their employers, so look there first before buying private health care.
- Financial goals. I'm all about goals, and I've started a category just for financial goals. For example, I want to pay off my credit card debt within the first year of starting work, and my student loans within seven years. In addition, I have a goal for savings and for helping others through my finances. I taught my students the SMART method for goal-setting, and I've personally found that by being specific with goals, you're more likely to accomplish what truly matters to you (Lara Casey's power sheets have also been super helpful in this area!).
- Budgeting. Nicole Lapin refers to budgets as spending plans, and I love that. As Dave Ramsey says, "Budgeting is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went." Budgets may sound boring, but there are a ton of online resources to make it easy and pain-less.
- Educate yourself. Set a goal to read at least one finance-related article or blog post a week. For personal finance, my favorites are Olia, The Money Girl, The Power of Thrift (great resource for paying off student loans quickly!) Finance Girl, LearnVest, and Dave Ramsey. I also try to stay up to date on financial news (theSkimm is a daily newsletter that tells me what I need to know in five minutes or less - witty and informative!). If you want to study something in depth, there are also a ton of great books which will make your life much better than binge watching Netflix before bed ;).
5. Spend Your Free Time Wisely
I have heard from friends who have gone before me that one of the most difficult adjustments from school to work life is the free time. As in, all of a sudden, you have weekends and evenings with no homework assignments due Monday and no tests to cram for the next morning. I'm excited for more time to explore my new city, cultivate community, and to dedicate time to Tirzah and God willing, writing a book.
Watching endless shows. Fun? Yes. Beneficial. Nope - because it keeps us from pursuing the greater things God has for us. -Samantah Nieves (This article on pressing pause on your next binge session is gold!).
If you're unsure what to do in your spare time (although tempting, Netflix and TV are probably not the most relaxing or productive way to fill your free time), here are a few ideas:
- Volunteer (see part I from yesterday about this!)
- Start a blog (or write for Tirzah). One of the most common technical questions we get about starting a blog is how to host your own site. Hands down, our best recommendation is Bluehost.
- Take a class on a skill you've always wanted to learn - whether it's an exercise class or floral design, try something new!
- Teach a class - local colleges are always looking for adjuncts and churches are always in need of someone to teach Bible classes or watch the nursery.
- Study the Bible - our 21-day devotional on Romans 12 is a great way to delve deeper into Bible study for new beginners and seasoned Bible study girls.
- Pray - we have so many prayer needs on our Prayer Wall and no time is better spent than your knees before the throne of God.
- Read - every one of the ten books on our summer reading list will point you to Christ and is a million times better for your soul and mind then binge-watching a show or scrolling through Snapchat for the tenth time today.
- Make a list of 100 dreams - a mini bucket list of sorts of the things you've always wanted to. Start checking things off that list. I got this idea from 168 hours (best. book. ever. read it, like now!) and I've already started a Pinterest board of dreams that I can't wait to start working on.
- Go on adventures - take a weekend trip to visit a nature area or city near you, explore your own city, try something you've never done before, go to a museum or a local theatre production, etc...
- Learn a new language - I'm trying to learn French, but we'll see how that goes! ;)