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Getting Started After College

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Remember when you were in school? Sure, there was a lot to do, but looking back, it probably seems that life was a breeze. Sure, you had tests and term papers to do, but chances are that you're facing way more responsibility now than you did then.

Dollars and Sense

Finishing school and moving out on your own is a major life transition and, therefore, a time of high stress. If you feel overly anxious or unable to handle the situation, it's important to find some help. Your employer may offer counseling as a benefit, or you can talk to someone at your church or synagogue or confide in a trusted friend.

It's easy to get overwhelmed as your responsibilities mount, but try to relax and enjoy yourself. Getting started career-wise, socially, and financially might be unsettling, but once you've lived on your own for a while you'll become savvy and streetwise—and do just fine.

Mom and Dad, Where Are You?

Finishing college is a milestone, and, for many new graduates, figuring out what to do after college is the biggest initial challenge. Our society has this expectation that when somebody graduates from college, she'll find a job, move out on her own, and begin advancing her career. But it doesn't always work like that.

Studies show that most college graduates do not make a seamless transition from student to employed person living on their own. If their degree is not in a field where employment is readily available, it can take a while to find a job. If there's no job, there's no money. Having no money delays the process of getting out into the world on your own.

Pocket Change

The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reports that most Americans consider 26 the age at which adulthood begins. But, only 45 percent of women and 31 percent of men had completed the five widely recognized transitions to adulthood by age 30. Those transitions are: finishing school, leaving home, gaining financial independence, getting married, and having a baby.

As a result, more young people are moving home with Mom and Dad after graduating from college or having been away for another reason.

The U.S. Bureau of the Census reported that in 2002, 55 percent of men and 46 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 24 were still living at home. Among 25- to 34-year-olds, 14 percent of men and 8 percent of women still lived at home. Not having to pay rent, or paying just minimal rent to parents, gives recent grads a lot more money to save—or to spend. Many of these stay-at-home grads are the ones with the fancy electronic equipment or sport utility vehicles. Others, though, use the money they save on living expenses to pay back college loans or to put into a fund for a down payment on a house.

If you have a job, but are living rent-free, or nearly rent-free, at your parents' house, realize that you're in a great position to save money.

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More on: Family Finances


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance in your 20s and 30s © 2005 by Susan Shelly and Sarah Young Fisher. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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