The “L” “M” and “J” words
Welcome to yet another edition of Post Grad Guide To Survival this month’s Lifestoned Adventures series that’s all about throwing your graduation cap to the wind and jumping into adulthood. If you’re a first-time reader, I’d like to extend an official hello and welcome. I also want to direct your attention towards the first survival guide post - This post is going to make a lot more sense after reading that. This week I’m going to crack my knuckles and really get into the nitty, gritty, adult-y details of post-grad life. I’m talking about the proverbial boogeyman lurking on the other side of college life. I’m talking about the topics that we typically ignore until it’s far too late. I’m talking about the ‘L’ ‘M’ and ‘J’ words. Keep reading to find out why what these three letters represent might seem scary but can be easily managed with the proper planning.
“L” is for Loans
There are no two words in the English language that used to keep me up at night like the words ‘Student Loans”.
And with good reason - the cost of education in this country is so high. But if you ever feel like you're slogging through your student loan debt, remember you are not alone. Almost 43.4 million Americans have student loan debt and there’s about 1.23 trillion (yes trillion with a T) U.S. student loan debts in total. And let’s not even get into the details of the debt coming from private colleges (hint: It’s a whole lot). So remember, you are not alone and you are not doomed. In fact, according to Forbes, your student loan debt (if handled correctly) won’t actually prevent you from living your life.
The study that they cite is from the credit management service the TransUnion, which found that student loan obligations have not inhibited younger consumers’ ability to access other types of credit — like auto loans and mortgages — as compared to their peers. Which basically means you can live a pretty fulfilling life even with the L word. However, you do need to be smart about the way you handle getting them all figured out. Here’s what I recommend. Get well acquainted with your student loans by doing these few things: Visit your financial aid office, pay attention to your Senior Exit Survey, and register your studentloans.gov account early.
If you can schedule a meeting with a representative of your school’s financial aid office do so, they should a record of all the loans you’ve taken. Plus there’s nothing better than having some of the particulars of your student loans explained to you face-to-face. Your senior exit survey has lots of information on paying your loans back. It may seem extremely daunting at first, but if you take the time to read it thoroughly and jot down a few notes it will clear up a lot of questions. Take the student loans quiz that they administer seriously, so when it’s time to log into your student loans account, you’ll be an old pro. You have six months to review this information and apply for different payment plans before you have to pay a single cent. Don’t be afraid to call up the good folks at StudentLoans.Gov if you have questions or need to check on the status of your application or automatic payment - They’re actually really helpful and friendly.
"M" is for Money
I’m sorry to have to break it to you but the days of dorm rooms and meal swipes are behind you. It’s a real bummer but alas, thus is life. In the first few months of flying the college coop, you’re going to feel like you’re spending more money. And in most cases, you will be spending more money. Between graduation celebrations, summer time fun, new clothes for job interviews, moving, and whatever else gets thrown your way, money is going to be leaving your hands often. But that doesn’t mean you should start frantically stocking up on ramen noodles.
Give yourself time (but not too much time) to learn where you spend the majority of your money. Whether your rent is too damn high or you’re a foodie who needs to 'gram' at all the hottest spots in Philly, figure out what makes you take out your wallet and then write it down. After that, write down what time of the month you make these payments. When you’re done doing that take a good look at your paycheck or savings account. Then apply the “50-30-20.” rule compliments of Time’s Millennial Money. Basically, when you get your paycheck put 50% towards rent, utilities, and groceries. Then put 30% towards the fun stuff like Asos, Philly restaurant week, and the Pop Art Exhibit at the PMA.The final 20 should go to your saving and debt repayment. Don’t forget to write this down or store it in an app like Mint.com Having a physical reminder of your spending habits will help you stay on track.
"J" is for Job Hunt
If you’re one of those lucky so’s and so’s that has a job to go as soon as you remove your cap and gown congratulations - you’re killing the game. Go out there and succeed and make no apologies for that success. If you’re still on the hunt for the job, take a deep calming yoga breath and get ready to roll up your sleeves. Despite the horror stories that we’ve been hearing about the workforce since our freshman year of high school, finding a job isn’t an impossible task. You just need to go about it the right way.
The first step to being a job search ninja is setting up a good foundation. So, research the hell out of the jobs you want. Follow your dream job on Instagram, stalk them on Facebook, memorize their website. When you’re done researching, go and update your resume/Linkedin and mimic some of the buzzwords that your dream job uses. You want everyone who looks at your resume to imagine you working for them, so don’t make it hard for them to do so. After that, send your resume to your favorite professor, friends, or old colleagues and ask them what they think. Having a few eyes on your resume is a sure way to make sure that it’s job hunt ready.
Pro-Tip: Make sure your resume and cover look good on mobile devices. You never know if the person who’s interviewing you works primarily on their Iphone or Ipad. Remember: Make it easy for them.
Once your resume and LinkedIn are all set, create an email list of people you like, trust, and respect. Politely let them know that you’re currently job hunting. And make sure you include what area you’re interested in working in. As someone who freelances for a living, I can personally vouch for this method because ultimately, it’s all about who you know. And having someone on the inside is the best way to make sure your resume stands out in the stack. If you’re looking for more job hunt tips and even jobs open up your phone and go on Twitter. There are tons of recruitment firms and companies that tweet job postings and have amazing blogs and resources on how to land your dream job.
Like I said last week, the biggest job search tip is to be realistic and to not be too hard on yourself.