Money advice for new graduates

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Graduation season is here. The sound of pomp and circumstance can be heard in the distance and speeches with words people never use like "embark" are being made to 20-somethings who aren't listening. Because it's hot in that stadium. 

But today I wanted to share some money advice for recent grads that I hope will help and actually impact them for the better. 

1. Understand the terms of your student loan repayment. 

Can you differ? What is your interest rate? Is your payment income-based? You need to fully understand what you're dealing with before you begin making payments. 

And do not depend on loan forgiveness programs. 

2. Make a plan to pay off that loan as fast as possible 

Know that you can pay it off faster than you think. In 2018 the average student loan debt total was around $39,000. That's a lot, but it's not so much that you can't knock it out in a few years. Just know that getting that paid off is your first priority. A cool apartment, a new car and a fabulous trip to Barcelona can wait. Trust me, debt freedom is priceless. Let that be your focus. 

3. Make your first budget 

Chances are you weren't budgeting in college. Now is the time to start. If you've never made one before that's okay. It's easier than you think. Here is a guide to get you started. 

4. Enroll in your company's retirement match

Hopefully, you have a job. Maybe it's not your dream job. That's okay too. You'll get there. But enroll in your company's retirement matching. Don't let this free money just sit on the table. 

5. Save something from every paycheck

Plan to put money away from each paycheck. Even if it's just a few dollars. Over time this savings grows and grows and grows. 

6. Set up an emergency fund

Make no mistake, emergencies happen. If you have some money put away it will soften the blow. If your car needs repair, you have the money. If you have a medical emergency, you have the money. If your grandmother dies and you need to fly to Idaho for the funeral, you have the money.