How to start adulting after college graduation

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Once you graduate from college, it’s time to join the “real world.” Being part of the real world comes with more responsibilities than just getting a job, paying your own bills, or paying taxes… and we call it “adulting.”

Maybe you lived on your own during college, and maybe you even had a part-time job – but the truth is life after college will be different. This can be a little scary, but armed with the right tools, you’ll be able to handle anything life throws your ways. Here are some tips to help set you up for success.

Let’s start with the basics.

Create a Professional Resume

You probably already know this, but before you are able to land an interview, you’re going to need a resume. I’m sure you also noticed there are thousands of other students getting their degrees and hitting the job market. So, it’s important that you not only have a resume but that it highlights your skills, so you shine above the rest.

If you can make your resume stand out, you will move through the application process more easily. The more you stand out, the closer you are to a job offer and a nice paycheck!

Look the part

When you’re on the hunt for a job, armed with the stellar resume you just created, the next stop is the interview. This means you’re going to need to dress the part

It’s always best to look your best, so make sure you have a suit or some form of formal attire (not a ball gown, of course) to wear and make a lasting impression.

Some employers might have a casual dress code, but wearing nice clothes shows you take the position and opportunity seriously. It will also give the impression that you’re qualified and confident (even if you’re nervous).

Make a budget

Let’s face it, after graduation you’ll probably still be penny-pinching and having ramen more often than you’d like to admit. It’s important now more than ever to set a budget and stick to it. This will not only help you now when money is tight, but it’ll help set you up for financial success later in life.

You’ll want to look at your monthly take-home and figure out how much you feel comfortable allocating to rent, car payment, car insurance, groceries, and so on. A budget will show you how much you can afford and how to manage your bills properly without hurting your credit score or even being evicted for not paying rent on time.

Get a credit card… and pay it off!

It’s never too early to start working on building your credit. After all, you will need a good credit score when you try to finance a car or buy a home later on in your life. 

Find a low-interest credit card, maybe even one with no annual fee, and make some small purchases on it that you can pay off every month.

Just make sure you’re using your card wisely, and not going into unnecessary debt.

Be on time

Whether it’s for an interview, new job, or lunch with friends – make it a point to be on time. Being on time makes a good impression when meeting someone for the first time and shows that you respect the people you’re with.

It’s especially important for new employers. They want to see that you’re committed and serious, showing up on time is an easy way to reassure them that you were the right choice for the position.

Stay active

Staying active is good for your health, both physically and mentally. Let me tell you when I turned — well, it doesn’t matter how old I am — but as you get older, you’re going to FEEL it.

You don’t have to go running or lift weights, just find something that you like. Even walking with friends while you catch up on your day is a great way to get moving. It’s also been said that being active can help alleviate stress and help you focus on the important things.  

Stock your kitchen

I know we’ve already talked about setting a budget, saving money, and being healthy – all of those things come together in the kitchen. It’s no surprise that eating out can be quite costly, so it’s really important to stock your kitchen

In addition to cooking your own meals, stop using paper plates or plastic utensils. Not only does the cost add up over time, but they’re horrible for the environment.

Stay healthy, save money and save the environment by purchasing some cookware, dishes, and keeping your pantry stocked with healthy groceries.

Be Social and Make Friends

We all have “friends,” but how many of those so-called-friends can you call in the middle of the night if you truly need something?

As you get older, it’s important to have at least a couple of close friends you can depend on. If you need someone to talk to, need help moving, or just want companionship; they’ll be there

Save for retirement!

I know, you’re not even settled in a career yet, and retirement feels like it’s a million years away. But, it’s 100% necessary to start saving now. When I finished college, I didn’t put much thought into a retirement account, and I regret it now.

When you get a job, you will have the opportunity to contribute to a retirement plan (401k, IRA, etc.), and it’s good to start doing so as early as possible. 

Each year your contributions will earn interest, so even if it’s small amounts now until you can afford more later, it’s never too early to start! 


There’s no true guide to adulting. We’re all out here trying to do the best we can with the situations we have. The best thing you can do is try your best to stay on track, work hard, and pay all your bills on time. Good luck!