Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

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TopHatFox
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Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by TopHatFox »

What do you think? If you could re-start your path from right out of college, what would you do the same, what would you change? I'm interested in FI optimization as well as general life advice.

At the moment, I totally agree with Jacob that my 20's will be a hard working tradeoff ("sacrifice") for a lifetime of greater freedom (doesn't mean I can't be happy during this time!).

Dragline
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by Dragline »

I'd say first, be flexible. And second, don't take on any unnecessary debt. Which pretty much means no debt. Which usually means continuing to live a student life-style.

What I mean by being flexible is be willing to move virtually anywhere and take anything that looks promising. If you find a place with a relatively high salary and a low cost of living, that's a bonus. Develop a mindset that your next step is only that -- one step. You should be looking for new opportunities almost as soon as you land your first job, first at your employer and then elsewhere. In this day and age, you may anticipate switching jobs several times unless you get lucky the first time.

GandK
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by GandK »

I've had this conversation repeatedly with our kids. I think there are two vital pieces to answering your question. Success (however you define that), which requires a plan... and happiness, which requires a positive attitude.

"Any road will get you there, if you don't know where you are going." -- Lewis Carroll

Specifically, if I had my own twenties to do again, I'd do two things:

1. I'd follow the 9 steps in "Your Money or Your Life" to make sure that my spending was always an accurate reflection of my values and priorities. (Here's MMM's overview of these steps, and also a more lengthy PDF version of the steps from financialintegrity.org.)
2. I'd also immediately cut loose any relationships with people who I believe have bad intentions, either toward me or toward others... no matter who they are, and without any guilt. Life is way too short to put up with jerks in any quarter of your life.

cmonkey
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by cmonkey »

Don't let 'lifestyle creep' find you. The more you make the more you spend! No thanks.

IOW, keep living like you are in college and supplement spending with new skills. ERE in a nutshell. Plus its way more fun! No one who lives a modern middle class life in the west wants to admit it, but being middle class is super boring.

As Dragline said, NO debt. Ever.

To this I would say establish healthy routines. We are all animals of habit and so why not make those habits work for you? At the same time, keep the balance between routine and 'new' healthy. Its very easy to sink into routines once you are out of college and once you have routines, its even easier to sink into bad routines, and so keeping things fresh can really enhance your life. This is something I really need to work on as well.

IlliniDave
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by IlliniDave »

Avoid debt, try to hold on to your current lifestyle/spending habits as long as possible (very easy for consumption spending to grow, much more difficult to go the other way). Use the phrase "I deserve ..." very sparingly. Be precise about the definition of "need" when you say "I need ...". Also those things I've mentioned several times recently: don't overly identify with your job, don't be judgmental about the people at work or the tasks, keep the fundamental transaction in mind (your time for employer's money). Be prepared to seek personal fulfillment/satisfaction outside of work. Constantly revisit your habits/activities and add/adjust/discard as required to optimize contentment. Be patient. Avoid substance abuse. Avoid going afoul of the law.

If I had a do-over, the first thing I'd do differently is to be a more aggressive saver/investor from day 1. It took me a few years to get rolling and not long after I found myself a family man with a lot of constraints. You can always spend money you save at a later time, but in general you can't sustain yourself on money you've already spent. You are way ahead of me because you've already got a vision for your life's financial trajectory. I graduated clueless.

brookline
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by brookline »

Hi,
Here's a few ideas:
-Keep yourself fit. Commute by bike or on foot. Rely on sustainable exercise along lines of Pilates or Yoga. Forego running or free wights that can set you up for injury. (This was my experience, though others may disagree.)
-Eat healthy. I spent much of my 20s in bars and restaurants. Processed/prepared foods and alcohol are bad for more than your budget. They can ruin your health, quality of life, and pull you out of the workforce (or force you to dial back) way earlier than you ever expected.
-Don't smoke.
-Spend your weekends more fruitfully than wandering the bars and clubs with herds of coworkers and college friends on weekends. Use your weekends to explore hobbies through low-priced or free community groups and organizations (Audubon, local fablab, maker space, adult education, museums, etc.). Your hobby friends may provide career connections. The activities will help you develop new skills that may open up career doors for you, show you career paths yo couldn't have known about otherwise, and teach you money saving skills. (Can you replace a toilet on your own? Do you know what herbs growing in your backyard can be used to make medications, can you chqnge an iPhone battery on our own?)
-Along the lines of skills and hobbies, take advantage of learning through YouTube and free books via the library. But don't be afraid to buy books (used :D ) that you can use as references for skills.
-Be wary of romantic relationships. Dating -at minimal expense- is necessary for your personal growth. But a bad relationship can really screw up your life. You need to be very clear on what you want out of life with money and children before you commit. A spendy spouse or one with poor life judgment can make your life hell.
-Be wary of the manure that gets spewed at corporate meetings. Boosterism is not reality.
-Set some good emotional boundaries between the consumerists that predominate in every workplace I've had (including only nonprofit work since 2006) and your values. Just because your boss thinks working 12 hours daily to pay for a BMW lease and a splashy wardrobe (at the expense of ever having children) doesn't mean you should absorb such values.
-Join every networking organization your employer will pay for. Network aggressively. Be visible. Consider starting a group of your own via MeetUp.
-Journal regularly. You want to monitor your happiness with your life and make course corrections at the earliest possible time.

Sorry to seem angry. I'm fed up with my current job and my spouse and my kids have let me sleep 6 hours in 2 days. I'd hate to see another person make the same mistakes.

TopHatFox
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by TopHatFox »

brookline wrote:Hi,
Here's a few ideas:
-Keep yourself fit. Commute by bike or on foot. Rely on sustainable exercise along lines of Pilates or Yoga. Forego running or free wights that can set you up for injury. (This was my experience, though others may disagree.)
-Eat healthy. I spent much of my 20s in bars and restaurants. Processed/prepared foods and alcohol are bad for more than your budget. They can ruin your health, quality of life, and pull you out of the workforce (or force you to dial back) way earlier than you ever expected.
-Don't smoke.
-Spend your weekends more fruitfully than wandering the bars and clubs with herds of coworkers and college friends on weekends. Use your weekends to explore hobbies through low-priced or free community groups and organizations (Audubon, local fablab, maker space, adult education, museums, etc.). Your hobby friends may provide career connections. The activities will help you develop new skills that may open up career doors for you, show you career paths yo couldn't have known about otherwise, and teach you money saving skills. (Can you replace a toilet on your own? Do you know what herbs growing in your backyard can be used to make medications, can you chqnge an iPhone battery on our own?)
-Along the lines of skills and hobbies, take advantage of learning through YouTube and free books via the library. But don't be afraid to buy books (used :D ) that you can use as references for skills.
-Be wary of romantic relationships. Dating -at minimal expense- is necessary for your personal growth. But a bad relationship can really screw up your life. You need to be very clear on what you want out of life with money and children before you commit. A spendy spouse or one with poor life judgment can make your life hell.
-Be wary of the manure that gets spewed at corporate meetings. Boosterism is not reality.
-Set some good emotional boundaries between the consumerists that predominate in every workplace I've had (including only nonprofit work since 2006) and your values. Just because your boss thinks working 12 hours daily to pay for a BMW lease and a splashy wardrobe (at the expense of ever having children) doesn't mean you should absorb such values.
-Join every networking organization your employer will pay for. Network aggressively. Be visible. Consider starting a group of your own via MeetUp.
-Journal regularly. You want to monitor your happiness with your life and make course corrections at the earliest possible time.
Thank you for the tips! No worries if you're stressed, I"m thankful that you've shared some of the things you've become conscious of with experience. I do all of what you've written already, which is great. Coincidentally, I can use herbs as medicine, install a toilet, and replace an iPhone battery. Thank you Meetups herbalist, Habitat for Humanity, and Youtube! ( actually had to take apart the whole iPhone to replace the screen! :D

I am interested to see if I'll be able to find partners interested in open communication, frugality, adventure--both inwards & outwards--and polyamory after college. I certainly hope so because it's likely not working long term otherwise!

I think the factor that needs the most work in my life at the moment is the income side of things. I am excellent at frugality, with <$600/mo total expenses (some months I can even get it down to $0 via *creative* housing arrangements and food rescuing); I spend lots of time on emotional health, connection, and intimacy skills (recently got some books on the skills of massage and developing better *fun times*); I've developed good habits on health and wellness, such as with an unprocessed diet, warrior diet, bicycling as main transport, outdoor recreation throughout the year, etc.; but my income and networking skills are in the tank! Like, me considering starting a networking group of my own via MeetUp would be as much as a surprise as when Darth Vader said he was Luke's father in Star Wars VI ("I can't believe it!!!")
Last edited by TopHatFox on Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

brookline
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by brookline »

Hi,
One thought I can offer on income is this: Consistency of employment. This is different than high paying or prestigious employment. I have noticed that in some workplaces, certain positions turn over a lot & the turn over event is often a surprise to the impacted employee. If you read job descriptions closely, listen carefully at interviews/watch body language, you will see where traps may lie. At one job I held, there was a cursed office: everyone who worked in it was fired or was forced it within 18 months of hire. It was always a Director of Communication or similar title in that office. You want to avoid such positions. I worked as a manager 2 doors down from 2006 to 2011 with no interruption of my lesser income and had good references on the way out.

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C40
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by C40 »

- DON'T HAVE ACCIDENTAL CHILDREN!!!!! This is the quickest way to ruin your ERE plans.
- If you're dating, having girlfriends, looking for a soul-mate: figure out how to find frugal ones. There are examples on our forum where this appears to have worked out very well (Akratic and Ego come to mind right now. I'm sure there are many)
- Don't allow yourself to get work senioritis too early. It will ruin your focus and motivation at work. Make your career a game of finding work you enjoy at least some, doing well at it, and making more and more money. Some promotions, especially early on, have a sort of compound effect on your total earnings (even if you only work for 10 years). Challenge yourself to accomplish this while still having a personal life (not just through more and more hours of work - because often the things that get you promoted are not that, and sometimes they are not even actually related to what you achieve, but rather to people's impressions of you)
- Try to find places to work that aren't cancerous. Others could give better advice than I could as I got pretty lucky here. When I interviewed at my company, it was pretty clear that while they don't slack off - and that some of them worked really hard and long hours, it definitely wasn't a cut-throat environment, and it appeared possible to be successful through being creative/clever/motivating/etc. and not just by working like crazy. It's also very important to work in a place where people trust and respect each other. Try to get a feeling for that when you interview. Try to work in a place where they will focus on your development and not just use you like a horse to get results. (This helped me when I made mistakes. My bosses saw a lot of potential in me. Sometimes I would take risks and a couple times those resulted in big failures. My bosses didn't take it out on me hard because they knew what I was capable of and they could see that I was learning from those mistakes)
- Try to make and keep close friends. You're approaching the age where the friends you have are the more likely to last a long time. My friends from high school and nearly all college friends faded from my life very quickly after leaving school. My close friendships from my early 20's have lasted. After that it gets harder to make new friends.

Matty
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by Matty »

All looks like good advice so far. I'm half way through my twenties and pretty happy with how i've done.

I would add try to avoid spending too much time fluffing around trying to find your dream job/career/life.

For example. A suprising number of my peers have gone on to do second or even third degrees in entirely different fields - racking up significant debt in the process while earning no money. To top it off they end up getting work in a field unrelated to all three!!!. I also have friends who alternate between various part-time, unskilled or seasonal work and periods of unemployment where they spend any accumulated savings because they are trying to work out what they want to do with their lives. Classic Gen Y stereotypes I guess.

Alot of these friends are just as stressed and unhappy as I have been at times working full-time. I've gone through all the soul searching they have but at the same time managed to save $150k instead of accumulating a negative networth.

Don't get me wrong. If you want to do something else other than work in the corporate world, go for it! But make it productive, goal oriented and something you're really passionate about. I'm thinking something along the lines of what theanimal is doing. If you don't want to get a full-time corporate job do something amazing instead. Don't get stuck in that awkward inbetween phase for too long.

thrifty++
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by thrifty++ »

My tips:

1. Don't spend too much time stressing and vacillating about what you want to do in life. That's what most young people do trying to maximise their perfect possible job. They waste lots of time and money. And I don't believe that there is a perfect job. ERE approach means you don't have to worry about it too much. You will be independent of your "job" in no time. Instead have "jobs". Just starting earning money and then start to segue into whatever. If you are smart and strategic about things which you seem to be you will end up earning lots of money in whatever direction you move. Just start doing something. Anything. Which pays money. Then constantly strategise and segue from there. Don't do anything unpaid. Unpaid internships seem to be an American system failure and are exploitation of young people.

2. I see lots of people saying don't take on any debt. TOTALLY agree. Especially any more education or skills training debt. Be paid for all training from this point. The education system has become a rort and an exploitation of young people. Either get paid to learn skills or get employers to pay for your education and training, or teach yourself how to do things. Don't pay for any more education. Especially not with debt.

3. Try not to make a habit of binge drinking alcohol. I have frittered away so much money on this for little return. It becomes a habit.

I could go on about frugality and what not but you seem to have that all down pat. So there is nothing more to say except good on you for knowing yourself so young. You will be able to smash out some independence and unplug from the system really fast.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Like, me considering starting a networking group of my own via MeetUp would be as much as a surprise as
Advice: don't share spoilers for movies without warning. I was waiting until it was on Netflix to see it. Thanks a lot.

TopHatFox
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by TopHatFox »

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Like, me considering starting a networking group of my own via MeetUp would be as much as a surprise as
Advice: don't share spoilers for movies without warning. I was waiting until it was on Netflix to see it. Thanks a lot.
Sorry about that, it was late, and I wasn't thinking quite clearly/extra excited by the movie. I changed it to something we should all know by now! (If it's any solace, you likely still do not know who one of the character's I mentioned is! And you still have to find out how it happens) (:

SimpleLife
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by SimpleLife »

Avoid lifestyle inflation, but have some fund while you are young. I'm glad I dated a lot in my twenties. I look back at those days fondly.

Dragline
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Re: Your top advice for hitting the ground running when right out of college?

Post by Dragline »

Matty wrote:
For example. A surprising number of my peers have gone on to do second or even third degrees in entirely different fields - racking up significant debt in the process while earning no money. To top it off they end up getting work in a field unrelated to all three!!!. I also have friends who alternate between various part-time, unskilled or seasonal work and periods of unemployment where they spend any accumulated savings because they are trying to work out what they want to do with their lives. Classic Gen Y stereotypes I guess.

Alot of these friends are just as stressed and unhappy as I have been at times working full-time. I've gone through all the soul searching they have but at the same time managed to save $150k instead of accumulating a negative networth.
This "wins" as far as the suggestion box is concerned. I see way too many people in their twenties (and knew a lot of such people in my twenties) that choose "more and different school" to the default of finding whatever job they can get. Unless someone else is paying, it's a really horrible trap. Even if you wanted to go back to school, you'd be better off working for a couple years, especially if you can find a low-level job in a field of potential interest.

For example, in my industry many young people who are thinking about law school make the wise choice of going to work as a paralegal for a year or two. They discover whether they really would like it or not without paying the tuition for it, and really get to think about what they want to do next. Some end up going to law school, but a lot don't and are quite happy they did not. The foolhardy ones go into debt first and then decide they can't stand it later, but are stuck.

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