Life is full of transitions from one stage to the next. At each stage we achieve the goals that should give us the ability to survive and sometimes thrive in the next stage. As a recent college graduate with a Master’s degree, I have found myself as one of the many twenty-somethings struggling through the transition from academic life to meaningful employment in today’s workforce. This has also added to the struggle of paying off college loans, credit cards, and financial missteps along the way.
But the good news is there are plenty of small and simple steps which can help people dealing with this transition make it through and find a bit of financial peace.
1. Look for employment outside of your career field.
Over the past two years, I have spent time delivering subs, counting citizens for the Census, and parking cars for hospital patients. None of these jobs were in my field, and none of them really paid much, but at the time they helped me pay some bills and continue to search for something else. If you go into jobs outside of you career field, do so with the understanding that you are not going to be there forever. If you have that “forever” mindset, apathy can set in very quickly and you can find yourself quickly in a mental rut that can lead to overspending.
2. Educate Yourself.
My understanding of finances was very limited due to my education. I studied religion and history in school and was exposed to very little financial education. I stayed away from credit cards until my then wife and I decided it would be beneficial to apply for one. At the time, I knew very little about how credit cards worked. In my understanding, they were bad but could be used for good. I just didn’t know how. To save myself from being seen as unintelligent, I did not ask questions. This was one of those missteps. Since then I have taken time to ask questions when I don’t understand and educate myself on personal finances.
3. Prepare for the unexpected.
This should probably go without saying, but we will all fall into financial burdens. The key is to minimize the toll that burden takes on our lives outside of dollar signs and balanced budgets. Because I am not a financial planner, I cannot really give advice on financial planning, but I do know what has helped me when the unexpected shows up on my doorstep. I run. Seriously, I make sure to stay physically active as a way of relieving the stresses that big transitions can bring. A sedentary life can have negative impacts on your mind and body which will make the stress from big transitions seem overwhelming. If running isn’t your thing, make sure you find time for your stress relievers that you enjoy. So work hard, educate yourself, and stay active. It may not pay off in monetary value, but the personal benefits will help you through your big transition.