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As college commencement ceremonies come to a close across the country, newly minted graduates will flood the job market, ready to begin working to pay off student loans and reaching other financial goals.
GreenPath Debt solutions, a nonprofit agency that provides assistance to people trying to manage debt and make sound financial decisions, has issued a list of their top tips for graduates. They stress the importance of establishing and maintaining a good credit score and handling credit well. Kathryn Bossler, a counselor with GreenPath, said, “As more hiring departments take personal finances into consideration, recent college graduates need to make sure their credit and debts are in order.”
GreenPath’s tips are:
- Ask for a six-month deferment on student loans if you don’t have a job lined up right away. This is usually not difficult to do, and will save you from getting negative marks on your credit report right out of the gate.
- Get a free copy of all your credit reports and look them over to make sure they are accurate and you know what’s on them.
- If you’re asked to provide your credit report as part of a job application, be forthcoming about any negative information. Explain why it is there and what your plan is for dealing with it. Add a personal statement, in writing, to your credit report if you feel it’s necessary.
- Double check with the registrar at your school and make sure you don’t have any leftover debts, such as library fines or parking tickets. Some colleges will withhold your diploma until these are paid.
- Notify the post office and all your creditors of any change-of-address after graduation, so you don’t miss any bills, statements, or letters about loans and other important information.
- Keep expenses to a minimum until you get on your feet financially. Buying a new car, getting your own apartment, and other big expenses can wait.
- Make a budget early, and stick to it. Be sure to include groceries, dining out, clothing, and any other things you’ll spend money on besides necessities like rent, utilities and gas.
- Develop good saving habits. When you get a job, sign up for the retirement plan, especially if there’s a matching contribution. Set up direct deposits to a savings account so you build savings without having to think about it each month. If you have credit card debt, begin paying it down aggressively right away.
- Talk with a counselor from a nonprofit credit counseling agency if you need help handling credit card debt or making a financial game-plan for the future.