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Recent grads need to make planning a priority

Associated Press

NEW YORK - Leaving college and entering the real world can be daunting. Graduates often must juggle finding a place to rent, investing in an office wardrobe and paying off college loans.

Barbara Steinmetz, a certified financial planner in Burlingame, Calif., said those first paychecks are often "more money than they’ve seen at any time in their life." But those dollars need to be managed carefully or the new graduates will soon find themselves even deeper in debt, she said.

"They need to take a look early at cash flow, how much money they’ll have after taxes and some estimate of what expenses will be," Steinmetz said. According to studies by Nellie Mae, a college lender based in Braintree, Mass., the average student loan debt is nearly $19,000, and the average credit card debt is more than $3,200.

For Lorena Nava, 22, who graduated in May from San Diego State University, budgeting hasn’t been a problem.

"I’m used to watching what’s coming in and what’s going out," she said. "I’ll think, Can I afford to do XYZ or do I have to wait until next month? If I have to I’ll wait. I’m definitely more of a frugal person."

But Nava, who has an internship at Allison & Partners, a public relations agency in San Diego, isn’t sure yet how she’s going to get health insurance after her access to student medical services ends in the fall.

Virginia B. Morris, author of Welcome to Your Financial Life — A Guide to Personal Finance in your 20s and 30s, believes parents should help their children financially in the year or two after they graduate.

Morris recommends that parents look for ways to subsidize their children without taking away their independence, such as putting up the deposit for an apartment or paying the car insurance or covering private health insurance.





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