10 Personal Finance Tips For Job-Searching College Graduates
As college students across West Michigan and the entire country prepare to launch their new careers, it is important to keep control of finances.
GreenPath Debt Solutions offers 10 personal finance tips for job-searching college graduates.
Dealing with college debt and the cost of living while searching for a job is a difficult task. It is important for college graduates to manage their credit.
"Graduates need to realize how much an impact their credit history can have on their future," said Kathryn Bossler, GreenPath Debt Solutions counselor. "As more hiring departments take personal finances into consideration, recent college graduates need to make sure their credit and debts are in order."
Here are more personal finance tips from GreenPath Debt Solutions for job-searching college graduates.
1. If you do not already have a job lined up, contact your student loan servicer(s) immediately to ask for a six-month deferment. Most loans will do this for you right after you graduate without much difficulty.
2. Pull a free copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com and review it to make sure you are aware of all your existing creditors and debts.
3. Look for credit cards that you may have opened while in college and consider closing accounts that you do not plan on using, to help limit your exposure to identity theft. Keep in mind that it is good to maintain at least one active credit card account, which you use and pay in full every month, to build your credit score.
4. If a prospective employer requests a copy of your credit as part of the application process, be prepared to be up-front about any negative marks on your credit. Employers will want to know that you are aware of the negative marks and that you have a plan for dealing with it. "You can also add a personal statement to your credit report, to explain the circumstances behind any negative marks on your report," said Bossler.
5. Check with the registrar's office at your school to make sure you do not owe anything to the school (library fines, parking tickets, etc.). Sometimes these debts can cause the school to withhold your diploma, until they are paid.
6. If you are moving after graduation, be sure to let the post office and your creditors know of your new address. Otherwise, you may miss important statements or letters regarding your student loan, credit cards, or other debt, and that can lead to missing payments and negative marks on your credit report.
7. Keep your expenses as low as possible while you are getting started. Don't rush out and buy a new car within two weeks of your first job offer. Don't feel the need to take on larger expenses in your budget such as an apartment of your own right away. Staying with your old roommates or parents for a period of time can really pay off.
8. Develop a budget – your spending plan – early on. Decide how much you'll spend in different areas including groceries, dining out, and clothing.
9. Once you land that first job, start to develop good saving habits. Start a direct deposit into savings. Sign up for your employer's retirement plan – especially if there's a match. In addition, if you're carrying credit card debt, begin aggressively reducing those balances to minimize the amount of interest you're paying.
10. Speak with a non-profit credit counseling agency, if you are paying high interest rates on your credit cards, if you're struggling with the amount of your minimum payments on credit cards, or if you need help in developing a game-plan for your finances.
Good luck, college graduates!