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There’s no experience quite like those first few months after college. If all goes well, you’ve got a paycheck. For me, that meant $17,000 a year.
And you’ve got to figure out how that money’s going to feed, house and clothe you. Not to mention pay for the parties in your new apartment.
We all came up with our own ways of stretching a dollar. I practically lived on Triscuits topped with tuna and American cheese and toasted under the broiler. But for more recent, and perhaps tastier advice on making the transition into the real world, we’ve turned to those who’ve just done it. So, Class of ’07, we present to you personal finance advice from the Class of ’06.
KATIE ABBONDONZA: My name is Katie Abbondonza, I went to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
JORGE DEL PINAL: My name is Jorge Del Pinal, I graduated from American University
SARAH LADUKE: My name is Sarah LaDuke, I attended SUNY Albany in the capital of New York State.
I have a lot more money, a lot more money now than I had when I was in college only working on breaks. But I also have a lot more day-to-day expenses. I’m living on my own and feeding myself, and never staying with my parents and not still staying in the dorm. Like the reality of having to pay rent every month. I mean, it’s real. It’s very real.
ABBONDONZA: There’s a lot of unexpected expenses with moving. You know, the first/last security deposit, that adds up to, close to three grand, in addition to buying work clothes so you aren’t wearing ripped jeans every day. And definitely the moving van was extremely expensive.
DEL PINAL: When you’re looking for somewhere to live, just try to find a place that has places you’re gonna go nearby, a grocery store nearby. You know, if possible, near your work. That’s great if you could do that, ’cause you just save a ton of money on gas.
LADUKE: I eat breakfast at home every morning so as not to stop somewhere and grab a bagel, ’cause that can add up. And then I do, I usually bring a sandwich or at least a yogurt for lunch and try to make dinner at home, too. But I do, I end up eating out a bit more than I probably should.
ABBONDONZA: You can go out, there are lots of half-priced burger nights, which we definitely hit up, or happy hours. I always like to have people over to our house – there’s a back porch, so you can have barbecues. And it’s definitely cheaper than hitting the town five nights a week.
DEL PINAL: If you’re going out, drink stuff before ’cause it’s cheaper than later. And just buy a couple drinks at the . . . when you’re there.
LADUKE: I got a credit card – my parents graciously let me have one for emergencies – and then abused it. Because I am . . . emergency think that I need, you know, something shiny and new. The hardest thing is trying to find the balance between stuff that you do need to do, or really want to do in a way that you’d at least in some minor way regret it if you didn’t get to do it – social events, concerts or plays, or road trips with your friends. But in your like, happiness budget, you have to take a step back and not always do it, but do it when it’s, is something really important.
ABBONDONZA: My grandmother loves to sit me down and talk about finances. She always tells me that I should pay myself first. That means that you put money in your savings account before you think that you can spend it.
DEL PINAL: Another way to save money in, you know, it’ll just be helpful yourself, is just be . . . do something creative. You could do art, if you write. Not that you have to make something of that, but you could. And that’s a great way to spend time.
ABBONDONZA: So I didn’t have health insurance for about a year, which was pretty scary. But I had to end up going to the doctor’s without insurance, and I racked up a bill that was over $600. When it came in the mail, I decided that it just was unreasonable for me to be able to pay this. So I called up the accounting department at the hospital, and they decided to take 60 percent off the bill, as long as I agreed to pay the rest. So I saved over $400 just on one phone call.
LADUKE: I think, for me personally, it’s exciting to see that I am doing it. People, you look around and it’s surprising to think almost everybody – hopefully – almost everybody you pass on the street is making it on a day-to-day basis, and to be one of the people of the world contributing to making it. It feels all right.
VIGELAND: Brendan Newnam produced that story for us.