Financial Advice for New Grads Without Full-Time Jobs Lined Up

Graduating from college is a momentous occasion. After years of hard work, internships, and part-time jobs, you probably look forward to a salaried position. But sometimes, getting a full-time job in your field can take longer than you thought it would. Follow this financial advice for new grads without full-time jobs to make your post-graduate financial planning less stressful. 

  • Work a Temporary Job While You Apply for Positions in Your Field
  • Create a Budget and Practice Using It
  • Make a Plan for Your Student Loans
  • Make Smart Housing Decisions
  • Have Frugal Fun

Work a Temporary Job While You Apply for Positions in Your Field

It might be tempting to take a break from work after completing your degree. Taking some vacation time post-graduation is undoubtedly well deserved. However, if you graduate without a full-time job lined up, plan on finding a temporary position while you search and apply for career opportunities. 

There are plenty of entry-level, part-time and full-time positions in retail and the service industry, which can help you earn income while applying for your dream job. Entry-level administrative positions are also good opportunities for new grads without full-time jobs; the money you make can give you a headstart on paying for your student loans and starting a savings habit. Earning income also offers you the opportunity to work on your budgeting skills if you haven’t already.

How Long Will it Take to Get a Full-Time Job?
It takes the average College graduate 3 to 6 months to secure a full-time, salaried job with benefits after graduation. However, it should be much easier to get entry-level positions in retail, the service industry or administrative support. If you had a part-time job during school, keep it and consider taking on more hours while you job hunt. 

Create a Budget and Practice Using It

Budgeting is a skill that will stick with you throughout your adult life. While you may have gotten away without it in college, it’s an essential tool that you’ll need to master from here forward. 

You may want to create two budgets, one to use right now and a future budget to use when you get a new job and permanent housing. 

For both, look at all your expenses, including student loans, and subtract them from your current or projected income. Whatever is left should be allocated toward savings or making additional payments on your debt. 

For a future budget, research typical salaries for the jobs and job markets where you are applying. You can also calculate your anticipated cost of living and expenses once you have a new position, housing arrangement and bills. For example, if you plan to buy a car when you get your new job, make sure to plan for a car payment.

Make a Plan for Your Student Loans

Do you know how much you owe? A study by the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings determined that around half of all students in the U.S. underestimate how much student debt they have! Of those surveyed, less than a third came within a few thousand dollars of the correct total.

Don’t be in the dark when it comes to how much student debt you owe. If you have time before you graduate, work with a financial aid advisor to tally up your loans and calculate how much you will owe, and what your minimum payments will be when you graduate. Knowing the total can help you decide which student loan repayment option will work best for you. 

Student Loan Repayment Options:

Student Loan Forgiveness: People with advanced degrees (like doctors, nurses, etc.) may be eligible for loan forgiveness, as are those who work in public service or for non-profits with a 501c3. To qualify you must work full-time and make payments on your loans for a specified amount of time. 

Traditional Repayment: Your loans have a minimum monthly repayment amount. In a traditional repayment, you must pay this amount or more until your principal balance is paid off. Standard repayment is a good strategy for people who can pay more than the minimum on their loans or have relatively low loan balances. 

Income-Driven repayment: Income-based repayment options are available to students with federal loans. Under this system, your monthly payment amount is determined based on your annual income. This method can alleviate short-term financial burdens but extends the life of your loan as interest continues to accrue. 

Refinancing: If you have multiple loans, federal or private, you may be able to refinance them through a debt consolidation loan. Consolidating student loan debt allows you to combine what you owe into one monthly payment and should lower your interest rate. Some consolidation loans may offer relief in the form of lower monthly payments via a longer repayment term. Keep in mind this may increase the total amount you end up paying on the loan. 

Make Smart Housing Decisions

New grads catch a lot of flack for moving home after graduation, but your priority shouldn’t be what others think about where you decide to live before you have a full-time job. Depending on your current employment status, savings, and family relationships, you’ll likely have a couple of options to choose from. 

Post-Grad Housing Options

Moving in with Parents: Moving back home to save money or take a break after graduation makes a lot of sense. Your compatibility with your family and their circumstances and expectations will influence whether or not this is a good option for you. 

First, don’t assume your parents want you to move back home after your degree is conferred! Ask if it’s ok, and make sure they outline their expectations before you pull up in your Uhaul. Also, discuss a timeline for your return. Have a move-out date in mind so that you have momentum for your job and housing search. 

Living with Roommates or a Partner: Housing becomes so much more affordable when you split the costs with other people. Living with roommates is probably familiar to you, as most people have them during school. If you have an existing, off-campus living situation, you may decide to stay there for a while after college. 

If you currently live with a romantic partner or have discussed moving in with one, that is also an option. However, whether you choose to live with roommates or a partner, make sure that any new arrangement is in writing and that you have a solid plan to cover shared expenses. 

Living Alone: Living by yourself is usually a more expensive option. However, many people prefer to have their own space and find the expense worthwhile. If living alone is a priority for you, make sure you have the income necessary to support that choice, and find an apartment that is within your means. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your gross monthly income on housing. 

Have Fun Within Your Means

Your twenties are a time to have fun with friends and enjoy yourself. Traveling and spending money on social outings and experiences is often a highlight of this decade. However, even when you get on your feet with a full-time job that meets your salary requirements it’s important to have fun that is within your means. You don’t want to rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt then find yourself unable to reach important future goals like buying a house. 

Be selective about what you splurge on, and find ways to have fun that won’t break your budget or leave you scrambling to pay rent at the beginning of the month.

It’s OK to Ask For Help and Advice

If you are graduating without a full-time job in place, getting your finances in order will make the transition less stressful. This is a time of intense transition in your life and it’s OK to not have all the answers on your own. 

Communicate regularly with your trusted advisors and support system. Take advantage of resources that are offered for free by your alma mater. And if you do make a mistake, don’t let it get you down. Learning from occasional missteps is a natural part of post-grad life.

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