Student LoansCongratulations! Whether you just graduated from a Georgia high school, college, law school, or medical school, you should give yourself a big pat on the back for all of your accomplishments and for entering a new and exciting chapter in your life.

If you intend to continue your education or if you decide to join the workforce on a full-time basis, one of the most important ways you can prepare for this next stage is to get a handle on your finances. For many recent graduates, the prospects of moving out on their own, paying rent and utilities for the first time, and beginning the student loan payback process can feel daunting and make you want to rush back to school! Don’t worry, there are many fantastic resources available that provide excellent guidance to new grads on how they can start their financial lives in the right direction. Read on for 3 financial tips for recent grads that are our office recommends. If you have any questions or would like more information, feel free to contact us and speak to an experienced Georgian attorney – we look forward to working with you!

1. Get a handle on your student loans IMMEDIATELY

This tip is the most important, and likely the one you will hear over and over again (with increasing urgency). If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of students who took out loans to pay for all or part of your education, the repayment period for these loans will likely begin within a few months after your graduation. So you have time to educate yourself on exactly how much you owe and to which providers, and to decide which repayment plan works best for you and your goals. Check “3 Things Families Should Know About Student Loans“.

2. Consider all of your living arrangement options before signing a lease

There used to be a sort of stigma attached to new graduates who continued to live with their parents (or who moved back in with their families after school). This stigma has largely disappeared because most everyone recognizes that times are tough. Having your own place is a significant step towards independence, but it may not make sense or even be possible for you right after graduation, depending on your financial circumstances. Consider living with your parents (even just temporarily), getting a house with multiple roommates, or renting a basement in order to cut down on housing costs.

Along these same lines, if there is a living arrangement that you really, really want to take advantage of then you can try to cut other costs in order to make it work such as renting your own apartment close to your job so you don’t have transportation costs, or forgoing the most expensive TV and Internet package to save on your other monthly bills.

3. Understand all of the benefits offered by your prospective employer

Now that you are looking for full-time employment, you should make sure that you understand all of the benefits offered by your prospective employers such as does your employer offer traditional health insurance or just a health savings account, will you be eligible for an employer-matched 401(k) or IRA plan, etc. These plans can be very confusing, especially if you have never had one before, so don’t be afraid to speak to the HR department about the terms and conditions. Benefit packages are becoming increasingly important for new employees so remember that a job offer can be negotiated just like a lease or any other agreement, and if you are highly qualified for the position you may be surprised at how flexible employers can be if they really want to hire you.