Great Advice and Book Giveaway for New College Grads!

It hit me last weekend that it has been exactly 3 years since I graduated college. I cannot believe how much my life has changed. I think it took me the whole 3 years to really get used to this whole “college is over, you’re officially an adult” thing.

With that being said, graduating college comes with a lot of new responsibilities, bills and bizarre scenarios that you have most likely not had to deal with yet. I wish I would’ve had Kathryn Marion’s new book: “Grads Take Charge” a few years ago. The book is filled with awesome REAL advice you can use, including snippets from awesome young bloggers who can relate (including me!). Order your copy of the book at

I’ll be giving away a copy of the book to one person who leaves a comment on this post. What are your biggest post-graduation fears? What are you most excited about? Do you feel that college prepared you for “the real world”? Let’s hear it people!

In the meantime, here are 2 questions submitted by Ms. Career Girl readers which I sent to author Kathryn Marion to answer. I hope you find them helpful!

“I want to move to Chicago after graduation but I don’t have a job yet. It seems like job searching would be much easier if I was already living in Chicago, rather than in Ohio where I live now. What would you recommend?

-It can be easier conducting a job search when you’re local, but moving before securing a job can be dangerous. There are a lot of expenses involved in the move itself and if you sign an apartment lease, you’ll either be limiting yourself to look for jobs within a very small radius of that building or locking yourself into a long commute if the job you eventually land is across town.

-Another strategy, that would give you more flexibility, is to network from where you are right now to find a place in Chiacgo to stay temporarily. Ask relatives, friends, your parents’ friends, your alumni association, your online network through LinkedIn or Facebook, professors, and advisors. Find contacts in Chicago through professional associations, local churches and synagogues, and craigslist (with caution; ere on the side of safety).

-If that turns up nothing, consider setting up shop in a hostel. It’s inexpensive; you’ll meet new people, and it keeps life simple because you’ll take only the bare necessities with you. Once you land a job, you’ll know which part of town to search for more permanent housing without having wasted money and effort on moving everything ahead of time.

-If making a partial move like this isn’t appealing to you, then I would recommend that you stay put in Ohio and conduct your job search from there. There’s no reason why you can’t start networking online and over the phone with Chicago-based classmates, friends, and alumni. Staying at home will give you the maximum free time to conduct your search because you won’t be busy with moving hassles, plus you’re comfortable where you are and that will come across in your communications. New-city stress may come out negatively in interviews; this way you can avoid that altogether.

“I graduated college with about $7,000 in credit card debt and my new job isn’t exactly the highest paying gig. How should I start tackling my credit card debt while not getting into MORE debt?”

Congratulations on taking your financial health seriously-too few young people do these days. You need to treat your credit score like gold from here on out, so not getting into more debt that you may struggle to pay back is very wise.

-First, head off additional debt by putting your credit cards away, using cash or checks for everything, and not making big purchases, like a car. It’s a bit more of a hassle to write a check than swipe a card, but you can feel safe doing it if you’re diligent in keeping track of your balance. Cars and expensive furniture can wait until you’re on firm footing again. You may want those trappings of the young professional life, but they will be like iron shackles around your ankles for years to come.

-Next, you need to pay more than the minimum each month in order to whittle the balance down, so you’ll have to keep your other expenses down to free up that cash. Housing is usually a new grad’s largest expense, so that’s where to look first. Living at home or with a relative is the least expensive and can help you make a lot of progress on that credit card in a short time. If that’s not an option, I would go for the least expensive housing situation you can find: house sitting, renting a room rather than a whole apartment, sharing a place with a group, or even a hostel. Making the sacrifice now will pay huge dividends in getting you debt-free. The experience itself can open your eyes to what’s truly important to you and prepare you to make much wiser financial choices in the future.

-Once you’ve experienced debt-free living, you won’t want to go back to racking up debt with credit cards and loans anymore. Use a credit card for a few purchases a month (maybe only for groceries and gas) and pay it off at the end of the month, on time. Never carry a balance again and watch that all-important credit score increase as time goes on. Later, when you’re ready to buy a house or car, you’ll be rewarded with the lowest interest rates around, savings you tens of thousands of dollars over the long haul.

To order a print copy of “Take Charge!” for 25% off, use coupon code MSCG25.  Otherwise, the e-book is free through May!  For great tips, articles and info for recent college grads, follow Kathryn on Twitter: @RealSolutions22.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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