This weekend marks one year since I graduated from college.
Man. Time flies.
Last year, right as I was about to graduate, I wrote this post (which is still one of my most popular blog posts to date). I thought I’d write a followup.
Here are 10 things I would tell a new college grad:
1. Unless you NEED a car, don’t buy a new one right away
Repeat after me: “Debt is the enemy, not my friend.”
Unless you have zero debt from school, the means to buy a car outright, or are in the same situation I was (my mechanics begged me to never bring my car back to them, which I think should earn me some sort of award), don’t replace your car right away.
One of the biggest financial mistakes new grads with new jobs make is thinking they can afford a shinier vehicle right out of school. Unless the purchase is absolutely necessary and you’ve crunched the numbers on what you can afford a million times, hold off.
2. You’ll spend much more time alone, and that’s okay
Unless you move into a living situation that is doubling as the set to a “New Girl” spinoff, chances are high that you will be spending much more time alone than you did in college. That’s OKAY. Think of it as a chance to figure out who YOU are and what you like to do, and it will feel much more adventurous. (This will also be really great in teaching you how to keep in touch with long distance friends.)
3. PLEASE don’t keep eating like you did in college
I’m begging you, for the sake of your health, PLEASE DON’T KEEP EATING LIKE YOU’RE STILL IN COLLEGE. The time has passed for nutritionless, junk food centered meals. While I could probably write a whole blog series on this, here are a couple of quick tips:
- Become an expert at sneaking veggies into your own food. I throw kale into my pasta and make mirepoix (a finely diced combo of carrots, onions, and celery) the base of almost every soup I make.
- Keep healthyish options on hand to conquer your cravings, and you won’t find yourself in a late night fast food line buying a far worse option. You will never open my freezer and not find dark chocolate chips.
- Eat. The. Rainbow.
- If you’re a bad cook, soup is going to seriously step up your game. You can rarely go wrong.
4. You won’t have your dream job, house, etc.
Your first job out of college probably won’t be your dream job and your apartment will probably not be as nice as your parents’ house. That’s OKAY. You’re learning, you’re young, you’re most likely some level of broke. Give yourself grace and remember that life is about slow and steady growth.
5. If you have the time and capacity, a side gig is never a bad idea
If you’re getting married right out of school or are starting grad school then this probably is not for you, but if you’re unattached and working a steady 9-5 like I am (can I get an amen?!), a side gig is a great idea. I freelance write on the side and have some fun charging BIRD scooters in my city. It gives me a change of pace from the 9-5 and brings in a little extra income that can go into savings or toward nonessential expenses (like the stovetop espresso maker I ordered off Amazon on a whim when I was half asleep last night).
6. Moving by yourself to a new place is scary AND rewarding
This Des Moines, Iowa girl moved by herself to St. Louis, Missouri for the summer right after graduating, and then settled down in Kansas City, Missouri two months after that. After moving to two different cities in the span of three months, let me be the first to tell you that moving by yourself to a new place is SCARY.
But it’s also rewarding, and each time you find “your” grocery store or coffee shop or favorite restaurant, you’ll know it was worth it.
7. Find a local church and DIG. IN.
Christians are not meant to live in isolation. When you figure out where you’re living after graduation, find a local church that preaches and teaches the Word, loves people, and shares the Gospel, and DIG IN. It’s awkward at first (okay, and sometimes it’s awkward for months), but you will soon develop a community of people who love God deeply, love you like a brother or sister, aid in your growth and sanctification, and point you toward the Cross. What more could you ask for?
8. Budget budget budget BUDGET
YOU. NEED. A. BUDGET. I don’t care how disorganized you’ve been with your money in the past – if you don’t keep a budget going, you’ll be broke before you know it. It doesn’t matter what format you use, but if you need ideas, check out this post I wrote.
9. Credit scores matter, but staying out of debt matters more
While a credit card is a good way to boost your credit score (which people definitely look at), if you can’t trust yourself with a credit card, don’t get one. While they are great for emergencies and traveling they are a terrible idea if you can’t trust yourself to not get into debt. One good solution may be to start out with an emergency card that has a very low limit and maintain responsible use before moving up to a larger one.
10. Discipline yourself because no one else will
This is it. You’re an adult. You have autonomy. You are responsible for disciplining yourself. Your habits are yours to make our break, your routines and patterns are yours. Discipline yourself into healthy and wholesome ways of living and thinking because no one else is around to do it.
Happy graduation, class of 2019. You’ve got this.