Change the world. Find your passion. Make a difference. The number of cliché phrases used as words of advice in commencement speeches would provide for a pretty great drinking game…which I’m sure already exists (à la, drink every time you hear a cliché). The truth is that yes, all of those encouraging words are inspiring, but there is no actionable first step for a graduate to take to accomplish those things. Life is complicated and there are far too many words of advice to fit into a blog post.
One of the areas in a graduate’s life that can be the most confusing is finances. So while we can’t help you or your grad “reach for the stars” or find the “road to success” on a map, here are some quick tips to help 2016 grads get started on the right path financially.
Tackle debt head on
There is no greater financial burden to a graduate in 2016 than their student loans and credit cards. The average graduate this year will owe about $35,000 in student loans and $3,000 in credit card debt. Get those credit cards paid off as quickly as possible using Dave Ramsey’s snowball method, and then start making extra payments to those student loans. Get it all out of your life as fast as you possibly can!
Don’t fixate on salary
Understand that a job is about far more than salary, especially in 2016. Now that millennials have become the largest generational group in the workforce, employers are changing the way they approach culture and benefits. Healthcare costs are rising and an employer that offers a Health Savings Account (HSA) with their group plan should really grab your attention. Financial wellness is huge for young workers as well and voluntary benefits that help workers with their financial lives are worth far more than you may realize right now. Consider voluntary benefits and salary as just two pieces of an overall compensation package. And of course, don’t expect to find that perfect job right out of school. It takes time and different experiences to really find what you love. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t found your passion by 25.