How to Survive Your First Year After College: Tips on Jobs, Bank Accounts and Apartments

Something they don’t teach you in college, unless you are a scholarship student, is budgeting. Sure, we’re so proud of the fact that we can manage our money well enough to buy books, to occasionally eat out, attend a flick and mayhap purchase an item of clothingâÂ?¦without falling entirely into the red zone. However, we don’t recollect that most of the money that saves us from having our bank account closed does not come from the job we have working in the school kitchen. No, the money is derived from the parents.

Now it’s time to enter the big bad world and mom and dad have done the unexpected. They have drawn back their providential hand (bank account) and told you, “We expect you to go it alone. We’ll be there for you, just not in a financial sense.”

Before you get mad, consider that they are looking towards a retirement package that does not consist of them living in your basement or attic. Be nice. Suck it up and thank God that they have at least warned you sometime before you graduate. Stick some of the money that you are using to fly around the country to attend interviews in a little fund and remind yourself that not going to that concert or getting that hot dress or new car is way better than being homeless and hungry in the future. Pocket as much as you can!

So now you are basically spending money on incidentals. An incidental is not�we walked to McDonalds and before I knew it I super sized a number four. An incidental is like your pre-existing credit card bill! You want to enter your new life with good credit�its important!

You’re living off your incidentals and you land a job! A jobâÂ?¦some people will tell you that’s the reason your parents sent to school, to lighten the load on their purse! Then you found out that a bachelor’s in English doesn’t equal the $75,000 per annum salary and a $10,000 sign on bonus your lucky friend who majored in Computer Science received. Breathe. You can make money with an English major I promise you. We don’t all end up at Barnes and Noble crying over our PhD’s in between ringing up customers.

The reality is you probably ended up doing court reporting or secretarial work at Dewy, Cheatham and Howe Law Firm or Empty Your Pockets Conglomerate, making in the neighborhood of $35,000 to $40,000 a year. Congratulations you could be a first year teacher. You’ve never had that much cash before and you start plotting your shopping spree when reality bites.

Suddenly you realize they aren’t going to give that to you all at one time, and though you are childless, FICA is a dependent of yours. Let’s not even get into whether or not your boss takes money out of your paycheck for healthcare and your pension and the like. You see your paycheck getting smaller and smaller. However, let me tell you this, resist the urge to refuse the healthcare until you know that you can get good coverage that doesn’t eat into your paycheck with premiums and massive co-pays and the like. You’ll be hungry, sick and broke before you can even blink!

You’ve landed your ‘dream’ job and for arguments sake it’s not in the state that you grew up in. Even if you attended college out of state nothing compares to having to provide for yourself out of state. In college you have deans, and a cafeteria. In the real world you have you and a frying pan if that. So here’s what you do. Instead of going to Cancun or the Bahamas with your friends, try to find a place to stay in your new locale. If you can stay with family or friendsâÂ?¦great! If you can’tâÂ?¦save some cash and book it to a hostel. You can survive sharing a room with a bunch of people you don’t know. Channel your freshman year experience! It will save you some cash. Also if you are planning to fly to this mecca of dough do so only if it is less expensive than Greyhound! You are trying to save money so you don’t starve to death before your first paycheck!

Scout around the place! Learn the transit system. Get maps. Try to take the bus and metro as much as possible to get around so that you will be used to it! Find a local branch of your bank if possible. If not open a bank account down there and funnel money into it. Set things up so that you can have all your money transferred a good week to two weeks before you are scheduled to come back. Close your other bank account at that point! Look for apartment listings; look for flea markets, second hand stores, thrift shops, super cheap supermarkets âÂ?¦ like NYC’s Fine Fare. Try to locate an outdoor food market or green grocer’s, as grossed out as you are by raw meat, if you are into eating meat a butcher is your friend! They usually have package deals that fit a person or a family on a budget. You can get many different cuts of meat for a lower price in the package than if you try to pick and choose what you need. The butcher also pre-weighs the meat so he’ll know how much you need to buy.

During this time you are trying to see if you can survive in this place. How much do you need to sock away to live till the day of the paycheck? Very few employers give college grad a little luxury known as “Moving Expense Coverage”, so you are going to need to know what is essential for your survival! This is to time to find out where is a safe place to live that doesn’t require you to sell a kidney to make rent. You’ll only be good for two months there anyways. Now is the time to think of things such as security! That’s a deposit that you make with the landlord (don’t think you’ll be a homeowner at this point) that can be collected when you are about to move to another apartment, or can be drawn on if you find yourself unable to scrape rent that month. A security deposit is usually the same amount as rent or double the amount. Don’t ever think of it as a fall back! If you wreck the apartment you landlord has the right to hold your security to fix the damages! If you don’t give them notice before you move, they can hold your security. If you don’t pay the rent more than once, the security, depending on how much you put down in the first place is gone! Don’t mess with that!

Arrange to view apartments that look to be in your price range, but also put the word out that you are looking for a place to live with the family that you are staying with or with the hostel people. You might be nicely surprised. Once all this is done go back to school with a game plan. Know that you will arrive at the place you are tying your future into at least a week or more before you begin work. Arrange a place to live or stay then. Know that your things that you choose to take with you will get there at least three days after if possible. This means that you are only packing essentials to follow behind!

Spend the interim till moving day keeping abreast of what’s going down locally in your future site. Keep looking for a place to live. Pass your classes! Do save money! Stop spending money foolishly! Think Scrooge!

So you graduate. You go home for a few days or however long you have before you go. This is the time to assess. Start making lists and buying necessities at this time. You know the merchants in your town and you know where you can get good prices. Make sure not to overstock. Shipping things can get a bit pricey. Get ready to go.

Sooner than you think you are back in the place you will live. The one thing that you will not have to ship to yourself is your clothing which you will bring with you at this point. If your clothes encompass more than two large suitcases and duffel you’ve taken too much. Take only the shoes you need for the time being. The rest can be shipped later. Ladies, your club shoes are not necessary! Leave them behind for a later date!

Come equipped with your credit card, your bank card, your social security card, driver’s license and other identification. By now you will be looking to close the deal on a place to live. Look at the leaseâÂ?¦rake it over with a fine tooth comb! You can preview them at sites such as gives you examples of lease agreements that you can peruse. Now is the time before you sign it to make changes to the lease and hash it out with your landlord, otherwise you might find yourself very unhappy!

After you sign the documents allowing you to move in, do so! Now you have an address for your boxes to be sent to. As you are doing this, start setting up utilities! In the event that electricity and cable aren’t covered in the rent, you’ll have to make the trip to these offices to set up an account. Decide whether or not you’d like your cell phone to be your primary phone. This is more a budget decision than anything else. Know that if your cell phone is your primary source of contact, the message that you have on your phone, while amusing to friends and family, an employer or business contact will not be amused. If you swing it, set up internet service. Shop around for prices! More often than not, even if you don’t have a phone, you can get a deal by purchasing internet service along with cable service from Optimum or Verizon and other service providers. For all these services a social security card is a necessity! International students, if you have a tax id, this works too!

If you have a car, you are going to need to wait till you receive your first utility bill before you can go down to the local Department of Motor Vehicles to get a local driver’s license. Bring your old driver’s license, your social security card and your utility bill for proof of address.

All apartments are required to have a stove and a refrigerator, but unless you’re paying for it, no other furnishings. Hit the local second hand shops and flea markets for chairs and tables! Don’t be ashamed. Famous singers and actors do it! So can you! Second hand cutlery and flatware have never killed anyone! If you can wash a dish those mismatched dishes in that box are yours for $1! You can also get a little television nothing too fancy. But you might be better off getting it at K-Mart/Wal-mart/Target, you can get a really nice television for under $200.

If the idea of buying used sheets don’t gross you out, you can get them there too. Just check for any weird stains on the sheets! Before you place them on your bedâÂ?¦wash them! Check out the papers as well as the sales for finding furniture. You could wind up getting someone to deliver an entire bedroom set to your apartment for the low price of $300. If not its time to follow me and the girl too grossed out to sleep on used sheets to K-Mart/Wal-Mart/Target. They usually have a good sale going on and you can escape with some nice sheets. Also, if you need a toaster, iron and can opener or some other electric gadget, you can buy that in a three pack for under $20 at K-Mart.

Resist buying the junk all around you at these stores. You don’t have a lot of cash and you definitely don’t have enough for junk food and pre-cooked meals, trust me. If you don’t know how to cook, pack up the ramen, its time to learn. A Sam’s Club/Costco is a good place to get things that are edible in bulk and I’ll look the other way as you buy some chips.

If a stove scares you, a rice cooker is a good investment. You’ll be safe with chicken because takes the least amount of time to prepareâÂ?¦and also if you cut it and its pink in the middleâÂ?¦it needs more time. A good way to save money while food shopping or shopping for toothpaste and the like is buying the Sunday paper! Yes! If you buy the heavy Sunday paper, you get coupons for everything. Also if the city that you are in doesn’t give circulars out, you will find them in your local paper.

You have at your finger tips in a circular the equivalent of a catalogue. You have pictures of food with their sales prices! It saves you time and effort leaving your apartment to go comparison shopping. It can take a lot of time and in this climate, a lot of gas! You don’t have that kind of money to give away! You have student loans and bills! Which reminds me. You might have learned this in school but let me repeat this. A credit card is not cash from your parents. You have to pay it back! Or else you can’t use it anymore and you’ll find alot of things you want to buy on credit will be denied you! You’ll have to scrimp for every last thing and will have to pay exorbitant loan rates! Also..they will take your stuff away if you don’t pay!

However at this point in the tale, you have a furnished apartment (somewhat) and food, light and cable and internet service. I’m leaving you in charge of showing up for work on time in decent clothing and fed! Keep showing up and use that check to take care of the necessary bills and don’t forget to eat!

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