Rick Bee is the senior director of advancement at Biola University and a professor at Biola Talbot School of Theology where he teaches a course on faith and money.
For many of you, your final college days are coming to an abrupt end, just about like sand through the hourglass. In just a short amount of time you will be a college graduate, and you will join the list of significant graduates that have come before you from Biola. It will be time to step out on your own to make a mark of your own and becoming financially independent.
I want you to know how proud we are of you as you you begin take the training you have received here and make a difference for Christ’s kingdom wherever you go. There are more than 65,000 Biola alumni around the world. You are not alone in this process. The Biola community is available as a resource to help you get established in your career.
Some of the many concerns I hear from soon-to-be graduates are about managing finances after entering into the working world. As a faculty member who teaches on faith and money, I want to share some insight with you that will help ensure your financial success and make this transition process from college to career a little less daunting.
Here are 7 financial tips to know before you graduate:
1) Get the best first job you can get, but don’t be so selective that you become incapacitated.
Yes, navigating the job market is difficult, but keep in mind there are resources and networks within your current community that you can utilize. Faculty, staff, friends and parents all have networks that will help your job search if you take advantage of these connection opportunities. Biola’s Career Center is a great on-campus resource to help you get connected.
2) Know where your debt is and know what your payments will be.
I have many students that come into their senior year with no idea of how much college debt they have or how they will pay for it. Before graduation, do an inventory of your debt including interest rates and payment schedules. It will help you as you plan for that first job.
3) When you land that first job, start saving for retirement immediately.
Retirement might seem like a long way off, but even a couple of years delay in a retirement plan can make significant differences in what life looks like later. Compounding interest in a retirement plan is an amazing tool that will make even just $25 a week into a significant financial contribution over time.
4) Make a budget and stick with it.
Making and keeping a budget will help eliminate stress about making ends meet. Creating a budget will also give you a strategy to help manage a challenging financial situation.
5) Live within your means.
This might mean living at home with your parents for a while or putting off getting that new car. Determining that “you won’t buy anything unless you have the cash to pay for it” will help ensure that you don’t dig yourself deeper into the debt pit.
6) Know and understand your FICO score and what that means.
Establishing a good FICO or credit score can mean the difference in qualifying for a great loan with amazing interest rates or a horrible loan with tragic interest rates. Even more than that, it may make the difference between approval or denial when you are ready to get that first credit card, car or even a home.
7) Be a good steward of what God has entrusted to you both now and in the future.
What you have is not yours but God’s, and we are only stewards of the resources He gives to us. If you read 1 Chronicles 29:10-16 you will see what David has to say about who really owns it all.
Whether you are graduating this semester or still working your way through Biola, take a moment to think about your personal finance status. I encourage you to seek out wise counsel in these areas as you prepare to enter the working world. We are proud of each of you and look forward to what you, as the next great generation, will accomplish in His name.
Want to learn more about finances? Consider taking a class on personal finances