Inspired by Glamour’s popular “30 Things Every Woman Should Have And Know By The Time She’s 30,” we decided to put together our own list, on 22 things every bright-eyed 22 year-old-college grad should know about money.
By 22, you should have:
1. An idea of what you want to do with your life professionally, and what your bottom line is. Make sure you know what the average salary is regarding the profession you choose.
2. A basic understanding of investing your cash. Here are 10 investing terms that are essential.
3. A credit card. Building your credit is extremely important. Credit is used as a check for almost everything: apartment application, mortgage loans, car loans, etc., so get a credit card early on and use it responsibly.
4. The ambition to pursue jobs you may be underqualified for, and the humility to accept a position you may be overqualified for.
5. A budget — have your income figured out, including financial help from your parents. Make lists of all your fixed expenses and your variable expenses. Seeing your expenses at one time will make you aware of what you have left to save or spend.
6. A plan of attack for your student loans. Knowing how much you owe, the amount your monthly payments will be, and when they’re slated to start will enable you to begin planning repayment. If you’re a grad with student debt but no job, you can consolidate multiple loans into a single payment, which stretches out the payments on federal loans up to 30 years. However, you will end up paying more interest over time.
7. An understanding of money management. Financial literacy is extremely important in setting up future success for a fledgling adult. There are many books that can serve as a guide to financial literacy, and are geared specifically towards young adults. We recently discussed Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You To Be Rich,” (along with an interview of Sethi) which you can see here.
8. Connections. Even if they’re just professors you were friendly with, or fellow classmates who are already employed, contacts are useful. According to an ABC News report, 80% of today’s jobs are landed through networking. They can serve as mentors, a listening ear, and a possible referral for a job. Sign up for a LinkedIn account if you don’t already have one.
9. Knowledge on statistics of how graduates are faring in the workforce. Check it out here.
10. An honest talk with your parents about their expectations. If you move back home with Mom and Dad, find out if they expect you to contribute to the household, land a job within a certain amount of time, and how your financial situation will impact theirs. Be truthful about how much you can pitch in, and let them in on any anxiety you’re having. This type of clear communication will eliminate any elephant in the room.
11. The tools to be financially successful later on. Opening a checking account is the first step to the adult world of finances, and you’ll also likely get your first checkbook free from the bank. Many companies ask their employees to bring in a voided check to help them set up automatic payment into that employee’s checking account, which is even more incentive to hop on the grown-up bandwagon.
(Continue to page 2 to see the other 11 items!)