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How to Become Financially Independent After College

Financial Time Line For 20-Somethings

While we'd like to blame the economy, Generation Y — often called the Boomerang Generation of Americans born in the '80s and '90s — have earned that snide title for their inability to land jobs after college and for commonly moving back in with the folks several years after graduation. In an effort to move away from this common trend, here's a list of goals and a realistic time line to help you move toward an independent, adult life.

Last Year of School and Graduation

While some college students apply for jobs or graduate programs during their last semester of school, you might feel overloaded if you start the search while you have a full schedule of classes, an internship, and even a part-time job. Rather than trying to juggle all of those tasks at once, focus on completing your degree. Do make use of your college career services, so you have websites and resources at hand when you are ready to seriously start the hunt.

If you have savings or financial support from your parents, go to Europe or take that dream vacation you've always wanted. It's important to take a break after graduation to decompress before jumping into a job search or a new job. Even if it's just a road trip with your friends, take the opportunity to celebrate your graduation.


Click here to read what to do during your first and second year after graduation.

First Year After Graduation

Take the first few months after graduation to play, travel, or figure it out your next steps. But by Fall, buckle down and make a goal of finding a job by the following May. Expand your geographical boundaries. Apply for jobs local to your college city or hometown, but also look for jobs in cities you've always wanted to live in.

If you are living at home, set a deadline to move out, especially once you are employed. Moving back home makes sense since when you are jobless and can't afford to live on your own, but once you secure a steady income, it's time to leave your childhood room behind. While it's comfortable and safe to stay at home, the real world — and real-life problems — await you. It might be staggering at first to manage cleaning your own house and paying your bills on time, but these are essential parts of growing up.

Second Year After Graduation

By your second year after graduation, you should start thinking about financial independence, especially if you still depend on occasional handouts from the folks. It's a numbers game, and even if it hurts to give up the Starbucks runs in the morning or your DVR, remember it's only temporary. Giving up luxuries for the meantime will only inspire you to work that much harder for a promotion or raise. Part of being in your early 20s is learning to live within your means and on your own two feet.

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Dana2532736 Dana2532736 5 years
This is a ridiculous article. The longer you are looking for a job after college the more likely you will be labeled damaged goods. Graduating college is stressful but it isn't as stressful as real life work will be with deadlines etc. Take your trip to Europe the summer of your junior yr. If you tell future employers that you took 6 moths after college to go you look high maintenance. You are also competing with the future grads looking at the same jobs you are, the ones who didn't go to Europe and have a stronger work ethic. 
retired-RN retired-RN 5 years
Where are you getting the money to take a trip to Europe? Children I know are deeply in debt from college. I'm retired after working 34 years full time at a physically and mentally challenging profession. I've never been in a Starbucks. Why would I spend my hard earned money there?? A $4 cup of coffee? How crazy is that?
Assistant-Community-Manager Assistant-Community-Manager 5 years
Great post, I just emailed it to my sister who graduated last May. It can be such a hard time in life- so full of opportunity that you don't even know where to start.
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