The four college years sure go by in a hurry. It’s a time that bridges the gap between adolescence and adulthood. So if you searched in vain for your mortarboard, after tossing it to the clouds in a fit of joy, worry not: this blog’s for you. While you may have a diploma, your education isn’t over. Because the bubble of college can insulate you from the “real world,” let’s gently pop it and lend some essential financial advice. But before diving in, here’s a hearty congratulations.

Start Saving

We don’t expect you to have a lot of income right after graduating. However that’s no reason not to start saving. Because every penny you save will count going forward. And since it’s not a habit that comes easily to everyone, we suggest forcing your hand a little. Set up automatic transfers between your checking account and other funds on a routine basis.

Budget Wisely

Now that you’re no longer a student and have hopefully have entered the workforce, it’s time to figure out a budget. After you receive your first paycheck, celebrate a little. Then calculate what money you’ll have left over for expenses each month.

Reduce Debt

College leaves lots of kids drowning in debt. After figuring out a monthly budget for expenses, provide yourself some wiggle room so you can start chipping away at any pesky student loans.

Set Career Goals

You may be in your first job, a job that might not be the ideal fit. Luckily, that’s nothing to lose sleep over. While you can’t always control your first few jobs after graduation, it’s helpful to set overall career goals right out of the gates. These should guide your decisions in the years to come.

Retirement and Emergencies

Your 20s aren’t a strange time to plan for retirement. They are the best time to do it. Consider opening a Roth IRA early. Emergencies aren’t predictable – that’s part of their problem. However, an emergency fund can leave you well-positioned in case something unforeseen occurs.

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