How can I prepare for graduation?

Preparing for graduation can be extremely stressful. Students can easily be so distracted by the present that they don't plan for what is going to happen after graduation. There are many things to think of when preparing for graduation. Here is a list of things that could be beneficial:

  • Look for a job before graduation
  • Save for life after graduation
  • Identify different expenses after graduation
  • Create a plan to deal with any college debt you have
  • Build an emergency fund

Depending on your situation, one or more of these steps may be a priority for you. Having a job is important to financially prepare for graduation since you will know your spending power. If you do not have a job by graduation, it is essential to set a plan in place to find a job as soon as possible.

One of the most significant issues recent graduates face is that they don’t have any money saved up to fund their lives after graduation. While looking for a job, you will need to pay for things such as rent, gas, etc. This is something that not a lot of students consider, and it is important to note that this is especially important for graduates who do not have a job lined up by their graduating date. If you are currently able to, it would be a wise idea to take on a part-time job your senior year that can help you better save for after graduation.

As you get closer to your graduation day, you will need to sit down and find out what sort of expenses you will need to deal with after graduation. Have a sit down with your family and find out whether you are going to need to pay for your own car insurance, phone bill, or other expenses you’re not already paying. You should also open your own checking and savings accounts if you don't already have your own accounts. After all, you will need a place to deposit your paychecks. Once you have a list of all your expenses, you can develop a comprehensive spending plan. This will help you better manage your money so that you don’t wonder where it went.

We all know how aggravating student loan payments can be; to make this process a little easier you could set a plan in place that will help you pay your student loans on time if not early. This is easier done if you already have a job planned and you know how much money you will be making. Though this might not be common, you could ask your employer if your company offers any sort of education payback where they could help offset your tuition or, in some cases, pay off all your student loans.

The biggest piece of advice is to create an emergency fund. Many people can't afford to pay for a $400 unexpected expense. You never know what will happen, so it's important to be prepared for anything, whether it is an emergency visit to the doctor or an insurance deductible because of a car accident. We take things for granted; it is crucial to realize that not all days are good and that we never know what to expect. An emergency fund could also serve as secondary savings that could help you pay for bills and necessities if you were ever to lose your job. Graduation can be a stressful time, so please consider some of these options to make your graduation a little more stress-free.

Written by Rami Fakhouri, Financial Wellness for College Students Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Fall 2019. Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, University of Illinois Extension.

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