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So you're in your final semester as a college student, and you've suddenly realized that life after college is looming before you. As you flip through the weeks in your calendar, you wonder what exactly is in store for you after you walk across that stage and take your diploma in hand. Perhaps most troubling is your financial situation, especially if you're still working on lining up a good full-time job after you graduate.
Well, the first step to getting a handle on life after college is to figure out what exactly you're dealing with financially once you leave the hallowed campus grounds of your undergraduate institution. If you can get a good sense of the financial issues you'll have to deal with, then you'll be able to plan accordingly. The following are some of the expenses you'll probably have to plan for once you graduate; I've tried to include some tips to help you deal with these expenses. And, of course, if you have any ideas, please leave them in the comments section in case I've overlooked anything!
Rent and Groceries
At college, this expense was often lumped into the bills you or your parents paid, so it was easy to forget about it until the beginning of the next semester; however, once you're living on your own, you'll have to set aside a solid chunk of money in order to handle these expenses.
Tip: Look for ways to make your money last when you budget for these expenses. Share an apartment with a roommate. Shop for groceries during the sales. Eat in more than you eat out. In some cases, you might even consider moving back with your parents, especially if you don't have a job, as you gain your financial footing.
If you got through college with the help of some education loans, now is when you'll have to start working on them. In some cases, government loans will offer you a six month grace period from the time you graduate, so you'll have a cushion to get your money in order; however, once those six months are over, you'll have to start making payments each month.
Tip: In some cases, you might be able to bundle your loan payments together or consolidate under a smaller interest rate. You should definitely check out Finaid.gov for more information about ways you can save money on your loan payments and manage them better.
If you're like me, then while you were in college your parents most likely still claimed you as a dependent. Once you graduate, however, you'll probably shift to independent status, which means you'll have to file your own taxes. This is a bit more intimidating sounding that it truly is, but it's something you'll have to get used to doing.
Tip: That first year on your own, track everything you can possibly keep track of. Keep all of your receipts, your pay stubs, your savings and expenses information. Then, when tax season nears, ask one of your parents to help you sort through your information and show you the ropes. You'll feel a lot better knowing that you had some help as you went through the taxation process for the first time.
Finally, you'll probably have to begin paying for insurance of all kinds, if you haven't already started. This includes car insurance, rental insurance, health insurance, and perhaps personal property insurance. Most forms of insurance are required by law, but you'll still have options.
Tip: Shopping for insurance can be a bit overwhelming, so make sure you do some research before you get too lost. It's best to do this calmly and take your time, as many insurance companies offer a variety of plans and promotions that can be confusing. What you want to establish for yourself is the level of coverage that you're both legally required to have and most comfortable with. Once you know that, then you can cut through the fine print with ease.
Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com.