Graduate Responsibly

You’re the bomb. You know it. And you ain’t too proud to show it. Graduated college, got a new job, and are ready to enter the real world. So, naturally, you’ll want to get your grown up on the first chance you get. That’s cool and all, but do you really need the new condo, new car and new wardrobe right now?

Sure, all of those things seem like “needs” rather than wants, but when you’re sitting in your unfurnished condo wearing your new wardrobe and eating a bowl of Ramen Noodles three months into your new gig, you’ll see what we mean.

Spend wisely.

First off, think about what you’ll actually be making. Do you realize that you could be paying up to 40% of your income in taxes? Uncle Sam is like that begging relative who sucks your wallet dry each and every time – and he always gets his money.

Once you realize how much you’re actually pulling in, think about what you can really afford.

Honestly, is it necessary for your first place to be a two-story condo with marble countertops? Why not settle for a decent apartment instead?

If you want to save even more, opt for a roommate to share the expenses. Make sure to find someone who’s financially dependable and who has similar living habits to yours to make your cohabitation as comfortable as possible.

Now, on to the new ride. If you make Toyota Corolla money and drive off the lot with a starter Benz, you’ll be sleeping in that car by Christmas or riding the bus to the bar come New Year’s Eve.

There’s nothing wrong with buying pre-owned or used car. As long as it runs well and is in better condition than the car you currently have, it’s definitely an upgrade. And we think she’ll understand why you drive an ’05 Honda once you take her to that fancy restaurant for dinner.

Speaking of understanding, we totally get your need to stay fly. But ball on a budget (see Fash Forward) before you end up sleeping in that new wardrobe on an old park bench.

Actually, now is the perfect time to start a budget so you can become more conscious of where your money is going.

In addition to budgeting, be sure to start setting aside some money to save for the future (see Mo’ Cushion for the Pushin’).

Trust, you will be able to do all that. Your primary expenses will consist mostly of rent, food, transportation, insurance, and other minor bills. Everything else except paying yourself first (see $hotgun), is secondary.

Oh, and now that you’ve graduated, the credit card applications will be rolling in faster than you can shred them. There’s nothing wrong with having a few cards, but don’t use them to cover what you can’t afford. You may not have to pay right away, but you will have to pay. (see Ice On the Prize)

Yep, you’re headed to the big leagues and we’re proud of you for it. But we don’t want you to end up back at your mama’s house or saddled with unnecessary debt.

Just don’t go spending like MC Hammer, and you’re sure to have a bright and fruitful future in the real world. Welcome.