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4 Ways to Prep For Your Post-College Life – Right Now

November 1, 2019

College life can be a bubble. In many cases, you’re shielded from the real-world realities of full-time jobs, rent and student loan payments. But before you know it, graduation will pass and you’ll be thrown into the responsibilities of adulthood.

 

“You need to plan for the future, and the future is here,” says Barbara Thomas, executive vice president of Education Loan Finance (ELFI). “It’s not just when you graduate.”

 

But you also don’t have to sacrifice a memorable college experience to set yourself up for future success. Here’s how to estimate — and plan for — the cost of your post-grad life.

 

1. Make a list of future monthly expenses

Having a sense of how much life costs is helpful for choosing a major, researching jobs and negotiating your first salary. It’s okay to estimate for now. For example:

  • Rent: Nationally, a one-bedroom apartment typically costs about $1,000/month, but that could be higher or lower depending on where you live. Research typical rents for your area (or the place you want to move after college) to get a better sense of what to expect.
  • Student loan payments: You’d owe about $333/month on a $30,000 student loan balance, which is about what the average undergraduate owes at graduation. (This assumes a 10-year repayment schedule and a 6% interest rate). Use a student loan calculator* to see an estimate of how much your future monthly payment would be based on your loan amount, interest rate and repayment terms.
  • Food: If you live off-campus and buy your own groceries, your current food expenses are a good indicator of how much you’ll spend on food in the future. For this example, let’s say that’s $500/month.
  • Transportation: If you have a car, include your monthly payment, insurance costs and gas. If not, budget for public transportation and Uber/Lyft. Let’s say this costs $300/month.
  • Other bills: This includes utilities, internet and your cell phone bill. If you split costs with roommates and are still on the family phone plan, let’s say this sets you back $150/month.
  • Miscellaneous: Include other categories that apply to your life, like clothes, travel, and personal care items and services. Let’s say this all costs $250/month.

 

2. Add it all up, then account for taxes and savings

In this example, your total monthly expenses come to $2,533. But you’re not done yet — there’s a lot this number doesn’t include. For one thing, the government takes money out of each paycheck for taxes, Social Security and Medicare. You also need health insurance, the cost of which may get taken directly from your paycheck if your job offers it.

 

Those costs vary based on factors including the amount you earn, where you live and your job’s benefit package (use a paycheck calculator to estimate yours), but they could easily run you $1,000/month. This puts you at $3,533/month in this example, or about $42,000/year.

 

You’re still not quite done. You need to be saving for the future and for inevitable emergencies like car trouble or accidentally smashing your phone on the sidewalk. Experts recommend saving 20% of your paycheck, which is about $600/month in our example. (That may not be realistic at first, but it’s an excellent goal.) So, you really need to earn $4,133/month, or about $50,000/year.

 

3. Make adjustments to save money

You might be panicking a little right now, but these numbers are attainable. The average annual starting salary for the class of 2018 was about $51,000, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

 

Plus, there are ways to cut your monthly expenses to make some wiggle room in your budget. For instance, student loan refinancing* can potentially shave hundreds of dollars off your student loan payment by lowering your interest rate. To qualify, you’ll need good credit, which takes time to build. While you can’t refinance until you at least have a post-college job offer, you can start establishing credit now.

 

4. Get a credit card (but don’t carry a balance)

Student loan refinancing isn’t the only thing that demands good credit. Almost everything you’ll need or want to do after graduation — rent your own apartment, buy a car, travel on the cheap with credit card points — requires a strong financial track record. The easiest way to establish good credit is to get a credit card, use it and fully pay it off every month.

 

As a student, you’re limited in your credit card choices because you don’t have much of a credit history. Your options are:

  • Get a secured or student credit card. These cards require a deposit (secured cards) or that you have an income (student cards), but they’re designed to help you get started. Over time, you can add other cards with more perks, like cash-back and travel rewards.
  • Ask a parent to add you as an authorized user on their card. This gives you a copy of the card to use, but keeps the payment responsibility on them. Before going this route, double check that the card company will report the card activity to the credit bureaus (the companies that create credit reports) on your behalf. Otherwise, it won’t help your credit.

 

Having a credit card will only help you if you spend within your means and consistently pay off the balance on time. Otherwise, you’ll rack up interest charges and be stuck with debt you can’t afford.

 

By doing these four things, you’ll emerge from your college bubble ready to take on the “real” world.

 


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

NOTICE: Third-Party Web Sites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

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2019-11-21
Tips for Navigating Career Fairs

Career fairs present you with the opportunity to network with potential employers, learn about job opportunities in your prospective industries, get eyes on your resume, and even get some preliminary interview practice. While these opportunities are great, you won’t be able to take advantage of them without proper preparation. Here are some tips for making the most out of career fairs.   

Prepping for the Career Fair

Do your research Before the fair, contact your college’s career center to see what companies will be present at the fair. Make a list of the companies or organizations that you’re interested in and conduct some online research about them. Understanding the company’s history and information about what they offer will help you better engage recruiters, and just might earn you an on the spot interview.   Prepare your resume Proofread your resume, show it to friends and professionals you know, and even run it by someone in the career center. Follow our guide about
resume tips for some help here. If you want to go above and beyond, make different resumes for different career paths that you’re interested in.    Find appropriate attire While most career fairs suggest business casual attire, make sure you’re prepared to dress to impress. Typically men should wear pressed pants with a shirt and tie, and women should wear pants or a skirt with a blouse. Wearing sneakers or a graphic tee probably isn’t a good idea.    Practice your pitch Get your “elevator pitch” ready for the career fair. This is basically just your way of introducing yourself, highlighting your skills, and presenting your interests to the recruiter or employer. Being able to express your skills and aspirations in a succinct manner will be sure to impress potential employers.   Create a list of questions Come up with a few questions to ask the employers, so they will know you are interested in their company. These should be questions that you could not find the answers to during your research. Here are some sample questions:
  • What kinds of entry-level positions exist within your company?
  • What courses do you suggest in order to be a successful candidate?
  • What is the average length of stay in entry-level positions?
  • What new product lines/services have been announced recently?
 

At the Career Fair

Devise a game plan Picking up a copy of the floor plan at the career fair and mapping out your main booths of focus will help make the process less overwhelming. Some lines may be longer than others, so plan your strategy to make the best use of your time. While you want to try to talk with every employer in your targeted group, remember to stay open to meeting other employers you may not have originally considered.   Be respectful While you want to make the most of the career fair, you shouldn’t just move from booth to booth picking up free stuff and handing out your resume. This can be a major turn-off for recruiters because they want to talk with people interested in the company, not the giveaways.   Warm up Start your rounds by going to a couple of booths that are not at the top of your list. This way you can get warmed up to interacting with the recruiters before meeting the employer in which you are really interested.   Show confidence Remember to smile, make eye contact, and give firm handshakes when introducing yourself to recruiters. Being confident should come easy to you as long as you do your preparation homework before the fair. Remember your pitch and be ready to answer any questions about your resume. Don't forget to ask the recruiters questions about their companies; it shows that you are interested.   Ask for business cards and contact information For future correspondence, be sure to request the business card of each recruiter with whom you speak. Make notes on the back of the cards to help you remember what was discussed.   Close strong When wrapping up with employers, you should always ask about the next step in the recruiting/application process. Be sure to shake hands and thank them for their time. Stress your interest by saying that you look forward to hearing from them within the near future.  

Following the Career Fair

Review literature  After the fair, go through all the information that you gathered from the recruiters. Look over your notes and think about your interactions with each employer, so you can decide which positions may be of interest to you.   Follow up Be sure to send thank-you notes to the recruiters with whom you spoke. Include specific information so the recruiters will remember you. If the recruiters asked for more information, such as transcripts, another resume, writing sample, reference list, etc., be sure to get that information to them as soon as possible.    For more tips and suggestions on navigating the career fair and to find out about career fairs in your area, visit your school's Career Center.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2019-11-20
5 Ways to Declutter Your Life in 2020

We’re all busy and feel overwhelmed from time to time. Balancing a job, family time, friendships and finances can take a pretty major toll. Taking control of the space around you and getting a grasp of your financial situation can take a burden off and help you feel at ease. Here are some tips for decluttering your life and your finances. 

 

1. Learn to Say No

When it comes to simplifying your life, one of the best tactics is to cut off your clutter at the source – in other words, learning to say “no” to things you don’t need . This also applies to the voice in your head that tells you to hang on to old furniture, keepsakes, family belongings, and everything else that you stuff away or put into storage. The truth is, holding onto everything of monetary or sentimental value just isn’t logical. Knowing when to say no, when to donate, and when to let things go will be a big help in simplifying your life. It’s been found that the average American thinks about decluttering at least six times per year, but only ends up decluttering about three times each year. Holding onto too many things can create a great deal of stress.

 

Try taking photos of your keepsakes and family furniture and file it away. By doing that, you’re able to hold onto the memories without holding onto the items that cause clutter in your home.

 

2. Clean Out Your Closet

Having a surplus of clothing can cause cluttering nightmares. While we like to hold onto novelty t-shirts from every 5k race, or think we’ll be able to squeeze into the jeans we last wore ten years ago, eventually things can get out of hand. If you struggle with overloaded closets and dressers, here’s a trick you might want to try – turn all of your clothes inside-out. After 9-12 months, reassess your clothing inventory and see which clothes are left inside-out. You now have a clear-cut idea of which clothes you wear, and which you don’t. If it’s left inside-out at the end of that time period, consider donating it to a good cause. If this doesn’t work for you, try sorting through them a few times each year and getting rid of the items you know you don’t wear.  

 

3. Cut Down on Food Waste

Our refrigerators get cluttered too. The main reason? We simply don’t eat everything we buy. If you’re the type that ends up with a full cart at the grocery store after going in for one thing, you’re probably dealing with an overloaded fridge as well. A study found that Americans consume only about 50% of the meat, 44% of the vegetables, 40% of the fruit and 42% of the dairy we buy. What doesn’t go to waste takes up precious space in our pantry and refrigerator. After all, who knows how long that bottle of salad dressing has been sitting there? Look into meal planning or even getting an affordable meal subscription (just don’t let it fall into the category mentioned below). What’s great about meal subscriptions is they’re perfectly portioned and will go far in cutting down the amount of food you waste or store away.

 

4. Cut Out Unnecessary Subscriptions

Ever checked your monthly bank statement to find that you’re paying $4.99 for a random app that you no longer use? A new study that surveyed 2,500 U.S. consumers found that they spend an average of $1,900 in subscriptions that are unaccounted for. These can include anything from TV and music streaming services to subscriptions to your local car wash. Getting your subscriptions under control is a great way to simplify your finances and decrease month-to-month spending. 

 

There are a variety of budgeting apps that help you track your finances, but Clarity Money® is great for managing subscription services in particular. After connecting your bank account, it will provide you with a list of your recurring subscriptions, and even allows you to cancel them right from the app. 

   

5. Refinance Your Student Loans

If you’ve graduated from college, you may be paying back student loans. Some people can find themselves paying back several loans that all accrue interest at different rates, and have differing payment due dates. Refinancing your student loans may make repayment more manageable because it consolidates your student loans into one monthly payment with a single interest rate. Not only could you have the flexibility of choosing a repayment term that fits your financial goals, but you could also lower your interest rate or save money over the life of your loan. 

 

We hope these tips help put your mind, your finances, and your life, at ease. By following these tips, 2020 could really be “new year, new you”. Stay tuned for more helpful tips from the ELFI team.

 
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2019-11-18
The Average Cost of College

When it comes to shopping, many of us have champagne taste and a beer budget. We shop with our eyes and our hearts before taking a peek at the price tag. The process of selecting a college is no different. We make decisions based on location, athletic teams, available programs of study, greek life, or even where our friends apply. Unfortunately, for many people, the cost of college lives at the bottom of the checklist, despite being a vital factor to consider.    The average cost of college for the 2019-2020 school year, is $21,950 for public, four-year, in-state colleges and $49,870 for private universities. This is an increase of 2.6% and 3.3%, respectively, over the year prior, alone.    Without question, college is expensive, and very few people are talented enough to get an athletic or academic scholarship to completely or partially cover the cost of education. An even smaller number of people are able to pay for a degree out-of-pocket. That leaves the majority of college students and their families to rely on loans to pay the bills.     Further complicating matters, a lot goes into the cost of college, including your residency status, level of degree you seek (bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral), where you live (on-campus, alone, or with a house full of roommates), and even how much you eat or how you commute to campus.    To help you understand where you can save, as well as how you can cover expenses with financial aid, let’s dig into what comprises the average cost of college.   

Tuition

Average Cost: $10,440 (public) | $36,880 (private)*

Tuition is the amount you pay your university to enroll in classes. The total changes based on the number of credit hours you take and if you take courses with additional charges like science labs or residential academic programs that let you attend smaller classes in your dorm. Offers like the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) can help students save money by providing in-state tuition to out-of-state students. Despite programs like this, the average cost of college is always rising because tuition increases each year based on inflation, school budgets, and a variety of other factors.    Mandatory fees are lumped into tuition and include contributions toward campus construction and access to things like:
  • Student rec center
  • Athletic events
  • Career services
  • Student activities
  • Computer labs
  • Bus passes
  • Etc. 
 

Room and Board

Average Cost: $11,510 (public) | $12,000 (private)*

Many colleges require you to live on-campus for at least your first year of attendance. The benefit of this requirement is that you’re close to classes and resources, including dining halls and bodegas that can be paid for with your room and board fees. These costs aren’t typically part of the bill for community colleges or schools with a high population of daily commuters. However, students will still need to cover living expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries if they chose not to live at home with their parents and amounts vary based on eating habits and geographic locations. For example, rent in California is higher than in Tennessee and the general cost of living in an urban setting is higher than it is at a rural school.   

Books

Average Cost: $1,240 (public and private)*

Books can be a secret killer when it comes to college expenses. No one ever anticipates the sticker shock associated with their first $300 textbook. These costs also include necessary technology like tablets or laptops for note-taking and essay writing. It also can include special supplies like graphite pencils and drawing paper for art majors or scrubs or stethoscopes for nursing majors. These semesterly shopping trips can do real damage to your checking account and add to the average cost of college.   

Transportation

Average Cost: $1,230 (public) | $1,060 (private)*

So far, we’ve focused on what you’ll need to pay to get by on campus, but we haven’t talked about the expenses associated with getting to campus. These costs impact resident and commuter students and range from airplane tickets and bus fare to parking passes and tanks of gas.    

Financial Aid 

When factoring the average cost of college, the other side of the ledger is represented by financial aid in the form of scholarships and need-based grants. With these awards, that don’t have to be repaid, the cost of tuition is reduced.    In addition to scholarships and grants, federal and private loans are available to help cover the cost of college. Private lenders offer student loan options for undergraduate students, graduate students, and even parents. Loans cover everything from tuition to personal expenses that you’ll occur during your college years, like cell phone bills, clothes, laundry, or even a bed for your apartment. The biggest thing to keep in mind when taking out loans is to borrow only what you’ll need. It’s necessary to have money to pay bills while you’re a full-time student, but borrowing too much can put you in a bind when it comes time to pay back those loans.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.