(BPT) - As recent college graduates trade in their old futons for more grown-up couches or hand-me-downs and become acclimated to living in the real world, the realities of adulthood may begin to take hold. The jump from college to the real world can be a difficult one to make, as college grads are becoming more independent while also trying to land a job and establish a work/life balance during the process.
Throughout the transition, college graduates begin to uncover new challenges and opportunities. As the realities of finding a job, being detached from parents’ finances and paying back student loans set in, uncertainties may follow, triggering strong emotional reactions. College grads need to have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, including mapping out living expenses and calculating what they owe in student loans.
Jodi Okun, founder of College Financial Aid Advisors and Discover Student Loans Brand Ambassador, shares advice for recent college grads navigating the realities of post-graduation.
“The transition from college to the real world is arguably one of life’s most challenging experiences,” says Okun. “Mapping out a plan — from how to search for a job to budgeting for groceries — is necessary when preparing for this new phase.”
Below are five tips for recent grads to help navigate the transition:
Be proactive, and don’t be afraid to flaunt your experience! Looking for a job can be daunting. Choosing the right career path should be based on your passions and skillset, so don’t be afraid to navigate your search accordingly. To help get started, join your college’s alumni network and set up informational interviews with professionals who have careers that interest you.
Assess and organize your finances. When looking for a job, understand the impact your starting salary will have on your ability to cover all your finances — from paying a cell phone bill to making monthly payments toward student loans. Create an organized document that outlines expenses and repayment amounts, and set a reminder for payment due dates each month. You can set up an automatic debit so you don’t fall behind on payments. Several private student lenders, such as Discover Student Loans, will offer interest rate reductions when enrolled in automatic debit payments during repayment.
Seek helpful resources. Use existing resources to understand student loan repayment options and how much you’ll owe on student loans each month. Discover Student Loans offers calculators to help borrowers map out student loan repayment plans. And don’t forget to talk to your parents. They can help you understand any additional finances you’ll need to keep in mind, while providing their own tips to managing a budget.
Don’t hold off on paying ahead! Consider making student loan payments shortly after graduation as it will give you a jump start before the first bill comes due while also providing early insight into how you should structure your budget. Also, finding ways to skip small expenses a few times a month, like the latte and casual meals out, can leave you with a little extra to put towards your student loan repayment and help lower your overall interest.
Use unexpected “windfalls” to repay loans. Did you get a substantial tax refund check or a big bonus at work? Consider setting aside that money for student loan repayment. It will help you cut down on interest paid and get you closer to paying back the full amount.
The realities of post-graduation can be overwhelming, so it’s important to take a step back and assess new responsibilities. Solidifying a strategy to ease the transition by using some of the tips above is a strong first step. For more information, visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com.