Tips for Becoming Independent After College

Tips for Becoming Independent After College

For many students, college can be a little bit like adulthood with training wheels. You aren't as dependent on your family as you were in high school, but you aren't yet fully independent either. Establishing your independence after college can be difficult, especially if you have to move back home for a while until you get a higher-paying job. Whether you're back in the family home or out on your own, the tips below can help you stake out your autonomy.

Manage Your Money

One of the hardest parts of adulthood is figuring out how to manage your money. If you are lucky, someone taught you or you taught yourself how to budget when you were growing up or in college. If not, you are not alone. You can get plenty of budgeting help from apps, websites and blogs about personal finance.

It's a good idea to reduce your monthly expenses so that you can start building an emergency savings account and put away money in your employer's retirement plan if one is offered. If you are paying off student loans, you may want to look into refinancing them with a private lender. This helps establish your independence in two different ways because in addition to saving money, you can remove an existing cosigner, meaning that your parents or whoever else signed for you to borrow the money won't be on the hook for it any longer.

Learn to Cook

Maybe you did a lot of cooking as a college student, but if you did, you'd be a minority. More likely, you subsisted on the meal plan offered by your school, takeout food and anything you could heat up in a microwave or boil for a few minutes on the stove. Learning how to cook a few healthy meals is an important element of fending for yourself.

You don't need to be a gourmet chef or even enjoy cooking, but you should be able to knock out a few reasonably nutritious meals. You only need perhaps five or so regular recipes that you can rotate through. Pick up a cookbook for beginners or try some recipe sites online with entries marked "easy" to help you get started.

Handle Your Own Responsibilities

Did you tend to turn to your parents for help and advice when you were in college? You don't have to stop doing that, but if there were things you tended to let them manage, it's time to take it all on yourself now. It's great if your parents can be a source of wisdom and advice, and they will not doubt value that you still turn to them for that reason, but if you have not already begun making your own decisions and handling issues that arise yourself, it's time to do so.

This might mean learning to file your own taxes or handling landlord disputes on your own. You might also want to think about what kind of boundaries you want to set with your parents. Of course, you can share with them what you are comfortable sharing, but they may not need to know every detail of your relationship woes or financial tribulations.