By Lauren Kontos

The time is approaching where we must don our caps and gowns, and celebrate the hard work we’ve put into earning our degrees. You can proudly say that you are a master (or bachelor) in your field of study and are ready to take on any problem the working world has to offer. But there are some things your introduction classes did not teach you. Here are five things to know before moving out into the world.

1. Learn to budget
One of the most common mistakes and frustrations many college graduates over look is learning haw to budget your money. Getting that first big pay check can feel amazing, but make sure you don’t spend it all in one place.

One of the best ways to monitor your spending is to create a spreadsheet. Start by figuring out how much you already have saved up, and add in your income. Then start subtracting out necessary things you must pay for, like rent, utilities, groceries, transportation costs, and loans. Then you can see whatever money you have left over to use for the things you want. But make sure you mark down how much you are spending for each thing, such as clothes, subscriptions, entertainment, etc. This is also an easy way to determine in what areas you are spending the most money. If you need to save up, it helps you to visually see where you may be able to cut some spending. You should always ensure that you have some money in an emergency fund because you never know when disaster may strike. This way, you won’t have to skip a month’s rent, in order to pay for medical bills or a new car part.

If you’d rather not take the time setting up a whole excel document, you can just download an app! Yes, thanks to the age of technology you can find an app for anything, including helping you budget your money. But whether your budget sheet is homemade or premade, learning to monitor and budget your money is an extremely important aspect to know when going out into the real world.

2. Learn to cook
Many people have accepted the fact that they cannot cook and decide ordering food is the only way they can eat. But don’t give up! Cooking can take practice but it’s a lot cheaper and more rewarding than eating at your nearest Applebee’s every night. If you have roommates, you could split cooking duties from week to week. Or if you are so bad at cooking, that you can’t be trusted to be in the kitchen alone, then trade another chore/job with your roommates so that you are still contributing somewhere (like trash, washing dishes, etc.).

But if you live by yourself or have roommates that would rather cook for themselves then don’t fret! You can easily look up cooking recipes online that include videos with step-by-step instructions shown so you don’t get confused. Also if you cook too much food, then you can meal prep. That way if you are in a rush or don’t feel like cooking one night, all you have to do is throw your already made meal into the microwave or oven.

One important thing to remember when you are cooking for yourself is to include healthy options! Your parents aren’t going to be around as much to remind/force you to eat your vegetables, so make sure that you are including some greens into your diet. Be wary of all the junk food you consume.

3. Job hunting
Many of you may not have a job lined up right when you graduate, and that’s okay! It happens to many people, so don’t stress out about not having your 401K set up immediately. When job searching, look for companies big and small. Smaller companies may be a great place when looking for an entry-level job. Plus it’s a great way to gain experience that many larger companies may require if you decide to move on.

There are many different websites to help you look for a job and find more about the company you may be interested in. LinkedIn and Indeed are great sites that many companies post their job opportunities. They also offer an easy way to apply to some positions by having you upload your resume or fill out a profile with information from your resume on it. These are also great channels for companies to recruit potential employees. If you have your resume uploaded or a profile filled out, employers can do keyword searches for the type of person they are looking for, and that could be you! If you are ever curious about a company, or want to get the perspective of a current/past employee, sites like Glassdoor offer that exact option. You can see reviews from employees, see what interview questions people have been asked in the past, salary, and find more job opportunities.

4. Remember to pay your bills
Paying your bills can sometimes slip from your mind when having a busy lifestyle, but try to remember them as best you can. It’s also hard to keep track of how much you’re spending when all you have to do is swipe and be done with the transaction.

The best way to keep on top of paying your bills is by keeping track of when each bill is due, and setting a time each month to sit down and pay for everything. It’s also important to go through your bills thoroughly, so that you can ensure that everything you’re being charged for is what you are supposed to be charged for. If you have trouble remembering what you bought, then keep your receipts! Having a budget sheet is a great way for you to keep track of your bills and see if you have any money left over in case you need to spend a little more on utilities for a month.

Credit card bills are extremely important to pay. A lot of college students tend to get credit cards once they graduate, which makes it hard to get a decent apartment or car loan when you don’t have a credit score. So, the only thing that you can do is bring it up to a good score, and that includes paying your bills on time and in the full amount.

5. Create a routine and stick to it
Last, but certainly not least, is making sure that you have a routine down for your daily activities. It’s one of the best ways to prevent you from slacking off as your body becomes adjusted to doing certain activities throughout the day. Having a routine prevents you from getting behind on work and personal health.

This routine should include things not only pertaining to work, but remembering to eat (because sometimes you can forget), having some downtime, working out, personal goals and making sure you are staying on top all your necessary to dos. It may be hard to start getting into a routine, but once you keep at it for a while, your body will naturally adapt to the schedule that you’ve set it at. As in, if you usually eat around 2 p.m. everyday, your body will start letting you know it’s time to eat once 2 p.m. starts approaching.

There are a lot more things you will need to do once you graduate and start living on your own. But one thing to always keep in mind is to be responsible! Your parents/parental guardians are not going to be around to remind you to do your work or pay your bills, so you have to start assuming the responsibility. The world is scary but remember to keep calm, stay focused, and try your best to succeed!


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