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Maya shares what she wishes she'd done differently in the first two years post college. Looking for more post-grad advice? Check out this video:

The Financial Diet blog:


Maya: Hi, I'm Maya and I'm the editorial assistant at The Financial Diet and today I'm going to be talking to you about the first 2 years after college and some of those fun mistakes that I made during my first 2 post-grad years. So the first mistake that I think that I've personally made was that I was very hard on myself during my first 2 years out of college. I think the culture around graduation is so like "What's next?" "What are you going to do?" "Where's your Facebook status about great you are right now?" and that for me translated into a lot of self doubt and honestly all of that anxiety wasn't helping me get a job. It wasn't helping me figure out what my next step was going to be and I really think I could've spared myself some of that. 

The second point is that I wish I considered moving home after graduation. I ended up living in an area that was pretty low cost of living, which worked really well for me. But I think that I didn't even consider moving home as an option because at that point I had lived away from home for so long. And I think that was a mistake and a lot of us tend to say "Well, we've been on our own for 3 or 4 years now. Let's not take a step backward" and I don't think moving home is a step backward. And I think sort of changing the conversation around that would've really helped me after graduation. If I think about the amount that I could've saved if I moved back in with my mom or my dad, it would have been just quadrupled the amount that I had actually saved if not far more. However, I think if you're going to choose to move home, it's really important to get in that mindset of "I'm going to do this and it's going to give me a financial advantage because I'm going to be either banking money into an emergency fund or I'm going to be saving up for a future move or both." I think it's so easy to get into the mindset of "I'm earning, I don't have any bills to pay, I can spend whatever I want" and I think honestly it's best to avoid that. 

My third big mistake was that I never really appreciated the time I had for hobbies when I actually had the time. For anyone that doesn't have a full-time job and a commute right out of college, there is time to take on other activities. I personally volunteered a few days a week and that was really great for me, but I think it was hard to realize that I needed to be getting in this time now because when I do start a career job, it is a lot harder to fit it into the schedule. Not that it can't be done, but I don't have like a Tuesday afternoon to volunteer at a hospital for 5 hours anymore. I wish that I had really made time to appreciate it then.

I wish that I had realized "real life" doesn't start when you get a job in your chosen industry. That's not how actually how it works, but that was very much mindset I was in. And so I think even though I was gaining really valuable experience after college because I wasn't in my perfect field that I saw myself in for the next 10 years. It made me feel like I hadn't started that "real life" yet and that's ridiculous! That was just discounting all that experience, which absolutely didn't need to be discounted. One of the financial mistakes that I made right out of college was the fact that I wasn't really understanding how to use a credit card in the way that I really needed to be. Awhile ago I asked a few financial diet contributors what their biggest mistake was financially right after college and I got multiple responses about credit cards. And the fact that people sort of assumed that a credit card that you'd just gotten was for emergencies. You know, if you ran out of cash it was like "Okay, well I'll put a few hundred dollars on my credit card." That isn't really what you should be doing in an emergency in my opinion, that's why you have an emergency fund. And I think that going into my first few post-grad years I really needed more of an understanding about credit cards than I actually had.

So first I would say that I wish I had understood when I exactly I needed to be paying off my credit card, what purchases were best to go on my credit card. Also sort of related to that, I wish I had saved up a lot more for my first post-grad move because I think that's what really gets people into that emergency credit card bind is the fact that they make a big move right after graduation and there isn't enough money saved up and that's exactly what happened to me. Between deposits and plane tickets and getting my car out there, I felt like I just ran through my savings and I wish I had a bit more of a cushion. Another TFD contributor had mentioned the fact that she wished she started saving for an emergency fund sooner or almost even when she still in college. And even if she was taking out loans, I definitely think that that's a smart idea. I think it's really important to make the distinction between loans that you are currently taking out for school and cash that you really want to have on hand once you graduate in case of an emergency. Because especially when right when you're getting out of school and you perhaps don't have a job quite yet, it's important to have money saved up in case anything should happen. 

I know when I was in my senior year of college and even for the first year out I don't even think I really understood the concept of an emergency fund or at least I didn't realize that's what we were calling it. And I think that it would have been so helpful for me to know that I had that sort of "rainy day fund" in my back pocket. Another thing I would've done differently after college is proofread anything I wrote more. I would say even it feels like you've proofread your cover letters into oblivion, it really doesn't hurt to look over them one more time. Just like it doesn't hurt to go into your resume and tweak it specifically for that job posting you really want. Honestly I look at some of my cover letters from a couple of years ago and I'm like "how was I not catching those typos?" but in the moment I was applying for jobs over and over and over that I just wasn't giving them as much attention as I feel like they really needed.

I think in general I would've been more patient with my parent's advice because they were giving me very, very good advice in my first couple of years after college, but I was so worried about, you know, am I disappointing my family by not getting that perfect job, like May, 20th after graduation. And so I didn't really take a step back and realize that a) their advice was really beneficial and b) that it wasn't coming from a place of disappointment, it was coming from a place of encouragement. So that's all for our financial mistakes in our first 2 post-grad years. As always thanks for watching and don't forget to hit the subscribe button and go to for more. Bye!