By Nancy Parker
I’ve been reading a whole lot of articles on getting jobs after college, how to dress for success, whether you should live at home with mom and dad or get your own place, and on and on. All of these are important topics to be sure, but let’s focus on some of the more basic after college skills. Some things, hopefully, you’ve already learned by living away from mom and dad, and some of that you learned before leaving home. But if any of you are like a child of mine who will not be named then you need to get back to the basics a little.
1. For Pete’s Sake (or at least your own) Learn How To Cook – You cannot eat out for the rest of your life. It’s a waste of money which you probably don’t have. It’s not hard, really. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to make a decent meal. And you don’t have to eat Ramen Noodles either. Get yourself an everyday foods kind of cookbook, look something up on the internet, or call mom and ask her how to make one of your favorite meals. But whatever you do, don’t make this meal and leave the dishes to sit out for a week before you clean them. It’s so much easier to get out one thing, use it, and put it back. Wash as you go along. It’s much healthier that way too.
I remember visiting my brother and his roommate (and this is after college in a house they rented) not too long after they both got hired on at the same company. When I got there the house was spotless, but after I was introduced to my brother’s then girlfriend (who I believe must have lost her mind) she told me that she had been working the entire day to clean. She then went on to say that they had hidden the dirty pots and pans under the sink and there were maggots on them! And she still dated my brother? Poor girl. So, my point is, don’t do this; it’s not healthy.
2. If You Don’t Already Know How, Learn to Do Your Own Laundry – If mom didn’t teach you this (she probably tried but you didn’t listen), then go back and ask her again. Don’t ruin your clothes because you are stubborn. Don’t waste your money and take them all to the cleaners. Laundry is not hard. If you can get a college degree, then you can sort, wash, and dry your own laundry. I will give you a mini lesson: There are whites and there are dark colors, which need to be washed separately. Whites get washed with hotter water, especially if they are really dirty. There are nicer clothes which need to be washed on a gentle cycle and lower water temperatures. Read the tags that are located either on the back of the neck or pants or sometimes along the seam, inside, on the side of the shirts/skirts, or pants. Read the directions on the detergent or anything you are adding to the washer or dryer. Follow the directions.
3. Keep Your Home Neat and Clean – It’s not really hard at all if you keep it picked up as you go along. I’m not talking about a deep cleaning right now. I’m just talking about it not looking like a cyclone hit and you are the lone survivor. Put your dirty clothes in a hamper, put away the snacks after you eat them, put your video games back where they go after you play them, and put your shoes away. Make your bed, or at least straighten it a bit, and make sure you put away those folded clothes you just washed. We already talked about the dishes; do them as you go, remember? Just keep up with it as you go and you won’t have a big mess to deal with later.
Here are links to two sites about keeping your house clean. The first site recommends doing one chore a day every month and then starting over the next month the same way. This may work for you. http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-schedule-house-cleaning-in-131142
My cleaning style goes more along the lines of this next site where you do a little of everything for thirty minutes a day to keep things up to par. http://shine.yahoo.com/work-money/how-to-clean-your-house-in-30-minutes-or-less-2580107.html
Whatever works best for you and your lifestyle is the way to go, but if your lifestyle is to not clean at all it’s not working.
4. Manage Your Time – I know if you graduated from college you had to learn to do some kind of time management. You had to get to your classes and do homework at some point. However, this does not mean that you did it efficiently. I have a daughter who did brilliantly in college, but a bigger procrastinator I have never seen! It worked for her because she has super human brain power and the ability to put things down on paper intelligently and quickly. It worked, but it was and still is a very stressful way to live your life. You need to plan out your time to some degree. I don’t mean that every aspect of your life has to be planned with no spontaneity whatsoever, because that would just be boring. You do need a schedule for the important things, like being ready and on time for your job. This is important. Getting enough rest to do the job effectively is another important time management skill. You can’t stay up all night and continue to do a good job at work. You need to keep your body healthy, so plan some exercise a few times a week. Set aside a little time in keeping your house clean, as we already spoke about above. You need to make a trip to the grocery store every once in a while so that you can make a meal for yourself a few times a week.
A schedule is not only important for getting things done, but it is a great way to keep your stress level down and be productive. You don’t have to stop having fun, but you do need to start being a productive, giving part of the community at large. You need to start thinking about the bigger picture now and branch out from yourself. It’s very important if you want to be a well rounded member of society and not just part of the every man/woman for his/herself group.
5. Manage Your Money – It’s time, if you haven’t already learned this, to sit down and make a budget. If you don’t do it now it will be much harder later on when you are overwhelmed by debt — that is, if you aren’t already. I’m not saying that it’s too late for you to get it back together, just harder. My budget starts out with giving ten percent to God. That’s because I’m a Christian and I believe that He gives us everything we have and we need to give to help out others in need. I’m not saying this is the way everyone feels; I’m just telling you what I do. The next ten percent needs to go into savings. If you start this at the beginning of your career it’s not so hard; you aren’t giving up money you have already been used to spending. You need to save for a rainy day and for your future. Then put aside for something you really want but don’t particularly need. If there is something you have your heart set on, instead of using a charge card and buying it right away, ending up with a whole lot of interest to pay back, save up for it. I saw a really neat idea the other day about getting a picture of what it is you want, putting the picture in a big jar, and throwing in money until you have enough to buy it. Some of us aren’t that disciplined, I know, but it’s a good idea for others.
After the savings of course come the bills, starting with the rent or mortgage payments, the utilities, insurances (which by the way you need or you will have more problems in the future), cable, cell, etc. You probably have school loans in what you owe as well. I read an article that they have set in place a “pay according to your income plan” to pay back your school loans. If it is not offered to you then ask about it. Check with all your creditors or the companies you deal with and make sure you are on the best plans they have. Let them know you are just out of college and need to be economical. You’d be surprised what just asking can do. If you do have credit cards, then you need to check on the interest rates and see if the credit card companies can lower them. They can do that if they want; you just need to ask, especially if you have paid your bills on time. If they won’t then see if you can find a new credit card with a lower interest rate and transfer your balance to the new card. There are ways to cut back if you try.
Then, when you’ve taken out all the predesignated funds (and don’t forget gasoline and groceries), hopefully there is some left over. Take that money and divide it by however many days are left before you get paid again. This is how much you have per day for whatever. You may sit at home five days a week and go out once or twice so you don’t have to worry about how much you spend each day, in which case you should just designate enough for those couple of days. No matter how you spend it, you should still be aware of how much you have till the next pay day. Don’t spend it all up front and then live like a pauper until you get paid again. This is not good money management.
My advice is to sit down immediately after getting paid each week (or bi-weekly or however it is that you get paid) to pay your bills and set aside designated monies. Do it that day, or at least by the next day, before you start spending and eating into money you don’t have. This will wreck your budget. If you manage your money this will make your life even more stress free and will free you up to have more fun in the future.
Some of you are thinking that this is all just common sense that everyone already knows. It should be, but that is not always the case. This wasn’t written for those of you who have it all together. This is for the more rebellious college grads that have put off growing up until now. Or the ones that need to hear that it is time to do so or at least to start thinking about it. It really does make you a happier, more productive, less stressed out individual to have these basic principles at work in your life. Do it for yourself, or at least for your dear mom and dad who have been waiting and praying for this day to come for a long time. I’m just saying.
Author Bio: Nancy Parker is a professional at www.enannysource.com and she loves to write about a wide range of subjects like health, parenting, child care, babysitting, nanny background check tips, etc. You can reach her at nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com