1. Find a job
It seems like this one doesn’t need an explanation. Unless you are headed for grad school, get a job as soon as possible, even if it is not your dream job don’t worry. The important thing is that you have an income and are starting to develop that real world experience.
2. Find a residence/furniture
By the time you graduate you might have found the perfect roommate triage for reasonable pricing. But now you must take into consideration your job location, a new schedule, peace of mind (sorry, but you can’t party like in college working 40 hours a week-trust me). You should find a comfortable inexpensive location near your job and near shopping locations such as grocery stores, malls, etc. It will make your life easier
3. Get a car/car insurance
If you don’t already have a car you must have one to work, unless you live in a city with great public transit. The kind of car you get depends on the kind of job you get (or family assistance). If you just got a new job paying $2500/month, you can’t afford a $400 payment on a car.
Just have patience with this one, get something that works until you are on your feet and then you can start getting fancy. The important thing to remember is to not get in over your head with your first car. What if you lose your job? It might take you months to find another one.
4. Get your health insurance
Talk to your school and see if you can get any special discounts as a graduating alumni. If not get online and shop for good health insurance. Ask your parents for they might be able to keep you on theirs until you turn 25. You are in a new world now and getting hurt in a big way is very easy.
5. Set up your new email address, and change address with post office
Sadly, it’s time to stop using that.edu address as your main one. Most schools will allow you to use it for periods of a year or longer, but you don’t want to communicate with the adult world with you school address. Google and Yahoo offer great FREE email services.
Oh and if you changed your living address, make sure you change address with the post office (www.usps.com) it will cost you about a buck. Also, you will want to notify your alumni situation of your new address. Why? Who knows, maybe one day you will come together again for mutually beneficial reasons (or if you feel like making donations to your alma mater).
6. Set up a checking/savings account with automatic student loan withdrawals
If you do not have a checking account yet it’s time to open both a checking and a savings account. Make sure you do not pay for anything! There are plenty of banks dying to get your deposits. Shop around for banks that are conveniently close to you and have some perks, like free checks when you sign up.
When your student loans are due, make sure you set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account, but BE CERTAIN THE MONEY IS THERE. You may qualify for payment deferrals if you can’t pay of up to two years, but only if you have not missed ANY payments. So make sure you either have the money to pay, or contact them before the payment date to ask for the deferral.
7. Find your favorite dentist/doctor/mechanic/tax preparer
Ok, I know these might not be at the top of your list, but if you get these down as soon as you can you will save about 39.586% of stress from your life. OK maybe not exactly, but if you ask around people would PAY BIG MONEY to have the pain of finding trustworthy services.
8. Join a gym
Now I know you were the king of keg stands or queen of sorority activities, but now that you are working 40 hours a week you will not be nearly as active, and the stress build up from work will be enormous if you don’t find ways to stay active.
Also, joining a gym early on will help you build good exercise habits early on; is a good way to meet new people; could keep you from depression, anxiety, and the stress that comes from the real world.
9. Get rid of any credit cards you have and set your budget every month
Ah yes, the credit cards. There is one thing you should do with them. Pay them off completely, and never ever use them unless you have an emergency. If you do this now, you will escape the fate of millions of Americans that are crying themselves to sleep over their credit card debt.
10. Have fun
Now that you are in the real world you are facing new possibilities, new friends, new lessons and experiences, and definitely a new kind of fun. The framework that kept you in line in college is gone and now you will bear the fruits AND pains of freedom. But if you do the heavy lifting upfront you will be able to experience life in a whole new liberating way. Good luck and enjoy!