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Musings: Tips for life after graduation and figuring out your 20s

By Jane Hagl & Lauren AguirreMay 10, 2017


J: Tis the season of graduation. Or more importantly when you enter the adult world. When I graduated, several people told me that the next few years were the foundation for the rest of my life, so be careful with what I do with my 20s. What’s the one thing you wish you hadn’t done immediately after graduation?

L: It’s been almost a year and a half since I graduated. I'm pretty happy with my decisions, but I tend to have a weakness for impulse purchases. I am pretty good at saving money but if I see a shiny new gadget, I have to have it. Controlling your spending is important as an adult.

J: I think it’s about balance more than anything when it comes to what you do with your money, your time and efforts.

L: I agree there. I recently moved out of an apartment and I decided it would save me much more effort to just pay the cleaning fee rather than going crazy cleaning every nook and cranny in the expense of earning more money. It's all about evaluating what's worth your time and what is not.

J: Travel is a big one. Sometimes the experience is worth the expense but you have to evaluate the value of the experience. As it is with going out, clothing and etc.

L: I also feel like there's this pressure to know exactly what you're going to be doing for the rest of your life. To have a plan. But the truth is most adults don't even know what they're doing even 5 or 10 years out of college. You don't have to have your whole life planned but you should know enough to be able to handle bumps in the road.

J: That emergency fund is important.  Even if you don’t have enough to cover three months of expenses, just enough to cover $500 car repair or $1000 medical expenses is important. Paying off debt ASAP, developing savings and investment portfolios and making the right career moves are things you do in your 20s.

L: I read somewhere that your 20s are where you figure out how you want to live and what you really want to do. It's a sort of experimentation period but there are still foundational things you should work on. The earlier you put away money, the more you'll have later in life.

J: It’s important that money isn’t the only thing in life. Money can buy you a lifestyle but it can’t buy happiness.

L: I'm not saying be excessively greedy but you should still take care of yourself. Money can't solve everything but it can help a lot. You shouldn’t forget to make connections with people in your life who matter to you or to make an effort to meet new people.

J: I mean obviously, taking care of finances is just a non-negotiable responsibility. I’m talking about volunteering, traveling, figuring out what you want out of life in terms of the intangible. No one on their deathbed talking about cash flow— they talk about their regrets or how happy they are about the time they spent with the people they love or doing the things they love.

L: I agree. Make time for things that make you happy, even if your career doesn’t let you.