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Marion Syversen Marion Syversen
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Graduates! Lend me your ear!

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You've spent years getting this shiny new degree, and now you have completed the thing towards which you have striven. Congratulations! Planning is not done, though, because now you are getting to start your beautiful adult life. We all want it to go well for you. Here are some tips to make your finances beautiful.

Budget Don't see a budget as a restriction. See it as FREEDOM! With a budget, YOU control your money life, instead of it dragging you from one crisis to another, with too much spending in the middle. Your life without a budget becomes crisis, overspending, crisis. Kind of like a crisis sandwich. Not very tasty. A budget is a roadmap of where your money goes. And if you have even a very simple budget, you can plan how to make the most of your cash making your life the happiest by planning your future and taking care of the past. 

Pay off loans  Speaking of the past, many of you will have school loans. Getting them paid off as soon as possible is a great goal. Because you have made a budget you can figure out where you're spending and where there might be places from which you can cut for possible faster repayment while still having a life. How to find more money? That is our next tip.

Keep housing costs low  Consider less expensive housing options such as getting a roommate or two, or maybe even living with your parents. If you feel OK about making serious financial headway, frame these options not as a punishment - 'Man, I worked all this time and I still have roommates?' - and more along the lines of excellent, money-saving choices. Really, you can save a ton of money being frugal, and being frugal is how many of us normal folks have savings and pay off bills. However you manage wrapping your brain around your cost savings, sacrificing now will make the many years of your future financially more awesome. Consider the wisdom of the suggestion.

Watch out for debt  You have potentially nothing but school loans to repay. Please don't add to it, shrinking your available cash and adding to your future fixed expenses. I know you feel that you have worked for a long time and maybe you deserve things. But if you can see this adulthood thing as lasting more than a year or two, if you can pace yourself on the awesomeness of life, if you can see frugality as freedom, it will be so worth it, my friend! Try to save for things, or gasp! - wait to have them just a little bit longer so you can make more progress in saving and paying down past debt obligations.

Save  And about saving, start an emergency savings account right off. And save this money for real emergencies, things that break down and you must have them. Not the guitar you've been waiting for all your life. The car, the other things that unexpectedly but predictably will go wrong, will seem much less out of control if you start putting money away for emergencies now. And the advice isn't dopey because your grandpa told you the same thing, bub. When you have to use the savings, just add to it as usual at the next pay period. Keep on this path of juicy goodness and it will get better and better.

Invest   If your employer offers a retirement savings plan, consider contributing to the plan when you become eligible to do so. This early start to saving for your retirement should help make you happy later.

Have occasional FUN - And then reward yourself with superlative times of fun. If you don't spend money every weekend and are a bit more careful, there will be money for amazing fun like vacations in Florida or the Caribbean. Trips to Europe! Real and serious fun, all because you were wonderfully frugal. 

Are we trying to ruin your life? No! All we want for you, my friend, is that you be as wise as possible. The reason? We have walked this trail. We know the bumps and the scary parts and we want only coziness and success for you. We want to save you from the pressure, the phone calls, the feelings of living life off the rails and feeling that you will never get back on a balanced track. We want you to be free and happy, and we think a life of really knowing where your money is going is a great step in a great direction.

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