Life After College

The financial decisions you make immediately after college graduation have a huge impact on your future.

At CommonWealth One, we are fully committed to your financial success after graduation. We offer in-branch resources, as well as online resources to help you make smart financial decisions like Savvy Money and COFCU Knows

Here are nine ways to make sure you are headed in the right direction with your finances:  

1.     Match cash income and outflow. Take inventory of your current finances. List all debts and expected expenses and then make a budget. Get into the habit of saving money regularly. By using direct deposit and payroll deduction, you can put your savings plan on autopilot.

2.     Start paying off student loans. Start making a dent in your student loans. Figure out how much you owe and how much you can afford to pay each month. Lenders recommend payments not exceed 8% to 10% of your gross monthly income.

3.     Manage credit card debt. Get your credit card debt in order by paying off any outstanding debt and making subsequent payments on time. This will help you build a good track record to qualify for the best mortgage rates by the time you're ready to make a down payment on your first home or condo.

4.     Start a money management system. Start by keeping track of all expenses so you can see exactly where you are spending your money.

5.     Decide where to live. Housing will be your biggest expense post-graduation. It’s important to make sure you can afford the monthly payments. Consider finding a roommate as a good way to share those expenses.

6.     Decide if a new car is feasible. Before making a move to buy a new car, make sure you can afford both the payments, as well as the high price of car insurance as a single in your 20s.

7.     Start saving for retirement. When you do get your first job, Invest in your company's 401(k) retirement plan as soon as possible. The employer's matching contribution is like getting free money!

8.     Don't stop educating yourself. Subscribe to local or national newspapers and magazines and stay informed.

9.     Set goals. Make a list of goals you want to reach within the first six months, year and five years after graduating. Measure achievements along the way, and change your goals as your career and life advance.

And remember, the friendly staff at your JMU college branch and at CommonWealth One branches across Virginia and Washington, DC are ready to provide the services and support you need as you get started and as you move through your life.

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