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Marion Syversen Marion Syversen
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College graduate!

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So you or your baby has completed college. Congratulations to you both! But now what? Where is the smart money path? Here are a few tips.

Take good care of yourself, please. You just spent approximately four years working like crazy to advance your options and vocation in life. That was an investment in yourself that you, and perhaps others, made in you. Continue to have that 'investing in yourself' vision for your life so that how you spend your money and time adds to that foundational investment and helps you be your best you. 

  1. Live on less than you earn  If instead of thinking you have finally MADE IT, you will continue to think in terms of being a starving student on a tight budget, life will go very well for you! Many of us made a big mistake, beginning with our first job, and developed an entitlement attitude with immature spending habits. That lifestyle gradually created a financial life that was scary and a bit out of control as we spent far in excess of what we earned. Learn from us, little grasshopper, and be wise.
  2. Be organized  If you were the student who procrastinated and couldn't find your books or your assignments, managing your money could also be disorganized unless you make payments and savings automated. Getting organized with your finances now becomes one of your most important jobs. Whether you use a notebook or your smart phone and apps to keep track of your money, make a budget and have a plan for what the heck your money will be doing now that you have a grown-up job. First jobs don't always pay the moon, so you won't have the kind of loose cash that can stand much waste and frittering. Unless you get organized, you will quickly find yourself getting behind and feeling overwhelmed, my friend.
  3. Loans are due  as part of your frugal living remember that 6 months after graduation student loans begin to be due. You may have an option that allows a reduced payment based on income and that may be a better fit with your brand-spanking-new budget. You may want to consolidate loans. I am an investment advisor and not a debt counselor, so this is not my area of expertise. If you will speak to the entity holding your loans you can get more information on your options. But I do know that making your loan payments is critical to a good credit score.
  4. Please save - Keep investing in yourself and begin saving for your retirement and emergencies. I know it feels like you don't have any money. But try to do everything you can, including continuing to have roommates if necessary, to keep living costs down so you have a bit put aside. Your self-discipline will pay off! 

Being disciplined may sound boring. You may feel like this is no way to have the glorious life and the future that you dreamed would now be yours. But all this discipline creates a happy and light heart and few money worries. We only want you to be happy, you clever graduate. You did an awesome job, bub. We are proud of you! Good job.

A free publication entitled 'Investing in Yourself' from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, about the financial benefits of getting an education, is available through this link:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/pageone-economics/uploads/newsletter/2013/PageOneClassroomEdition0213_Investing_in_Yourself_Human_Capital.pdf

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