Obenauer also recommends that grads contribute as much as they can from each paycheck to their employers' 401(k) plan or other deferred-compensation matching plan — something that will help them prepare for retirement, even though retiring seems far off.
Obenauer advises those graduates who no longer want to live with a roommate to make sure that they understand the expenses involved with getting their own apartments before they sign a lease.
Finally, recent grads might want to hold onto that old car for a while. Monthly car payments can be an unwelcome financial burden, Obenauer says.
"The moral of the story? You don't have to have a lot of money to be successful," Obenauer says. "You just have to have a plan."
Form a relationship with your bank
In this day of ATMs and online banking, it's tempting for consumers to handle their banking without ever forming a relationship with the financial advisers, lenders or counselors at their local bank. Charlie Crawford, president, chief executive officer and chairman of Private Bank of Buckheard in Atlanta, says that this is a mistake.
He's currently teaching his son, who will graduate from college in two years, to develop an in-person relationship with the financial professionals at his bank.
"While it might be tempting to do all of your banking online, keep the long-term picture in mind," Crawford says. "Realize that you may at some point need your banker's counsel. It's best to establish a relationship like this before you need it. You don't want to meet your banker for the first time when you are asking for a loan."
Dan Rafter is a columnist for Money Rates.
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