Recent grads shed light on post-college money issues

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Journalism at Michigan State University

Finances are a challenging thing, especially for someone brand new to managing it.

When it comes to recent college graduates, balancing college loan repayment, lifestyle budgets, and preparing to start a new career can be a whole new hurdle to face.

Andrew McClellan, recent graduate of Michigan State University, is still in the grace period before he has to start repaying student loans, having recently started at a career.

“I may look into loan deferment or something,” said McClellan. “I haven’t looked into it myself yet, but apparently I may be able to apply to a deferment program that takes my salary and calculates a reasonable percentage of my paychecks go towards paying off my loans, we’ll see.”

While McClellan is still treading water before he has to worry about loans, McClellan has started to look to the future.

“In regards to a finance plan: the only thing I know that I’m going to do as of now to build wealth is put a hefty percentage of my paycheck into my 401k match program; Potentially 15 percent but that might be too high. Really whatever I can choke down and accept seeing leave my bank account,” said McClellan.

Savannah Walker, recent graduate of Howard University, is trying to figure out how to balance loan repayment while also job hunting.

“I’m not going to lie it’s a little bit overwhelming, they give you six months before you have to start making payments, but even still getting ready for that is tough,” said Walker. “I am still interviewing for jobs and don’t know my set income yet. My parents are a big help especially my mom because she went through the same thing.”

Walker is seeking out a career that will allow herself to pay off the loans while also afford a comfortable lifestyle.

“I honestly didn’t have a plan, in January I’ll be joining the peace corps and they have a loan forbearance programs which will cover me for the next two years and after that I’ll be back to square one,” said Walker. “The most the challenging part is trying to work and save money for my future while paying for every day expenses and bills that are immediate and also paying loans. The positions I’m applying for are entry level positions that don’t pay that much.”

Looking back, Walker wishes she had taken the challenge of paying off student loans more seriously.

“People tried warning me about loans and the debt and all that stuff but it was always something that was so far away. I don’t know what anyone could have told me other than it’s hard and you don’t know how hard it will be until it’s too late,” said Walker.

Walker advises that students seek out any financial assistance they can find in order to counteract the amount of loans they might require.

“Scholarships, scholarships, and more scholarships. I was horrible at applying for them and wish I would have tried harder to get some,” said Walker. “I’m all for doing what ever you have to do to get school paid for, a degree should always be your goal. But make sure to put that degree to work as soon as possible.”

Andrew Rexford, graduate of Saginaw Valley State University, is working to pay off his student loans while also running his own company.

“Handling finances after graduation has definitely gotten harder ever since my student loan payments came due,” said Rexford. “Also since I started a company, I’m in a unique position where I have to worry about company finances as well. Having student loans on top of that definitely adds more stress.”

Rexford runs a social media firm, which he enjoys, but managing a company is no easy feat while downsizing loans.

“I didn’t have a huge plan besides to make enough money to pay what I owe. I had a six-month grace period after graduation to do it,” said Rexford. “The most challenging part is having to worry about student loans on top of all of the other finances I have to worry about. Starting a company with student loans was very difficult.”

Rexford wishes he had more guidance on how to handle his finances before graduating.

“I wish I would have learned how to properly set up a personal budget and follow that budget. Most young people are used to handling budgets in theory, in class, or for their company or organization, but creating your personal budget and sticking to it is just as important,” said Rexford. “My advice would be create your own personal budget and stick to it. Also, start saving now. The six month grace period to start paying back student loans after graduation goes by a lot faster than you think.”

When it comes to planning ahead for your financial future post college, how do you compare?

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