I made the big announcement in my last post that I moved to a new city! It has been the biggest, greatest adventure. Making friends was the one and only thing I was nervous about when moving out of state to a city where I knew absolutely no one.
I worried that I would have no way to meet people. I worried that people wouldn’t be friendly and eager to form a new friendship.
Let me just say this: I was so, so wrong.
I have been in my new city for less than a month, and I have already developed friendships. Obviously I haven’t made a “best” friend. How could I in a month?! What I have done is create connections around the city and developed friendships that I know will blossom into even more serious friendships.
Honestly, making friends in a new city by myself has been way easier than I anticipated.
If you’re moving to a new city, making new friends can be easy for you as well. I’m not special! I didn’t do anything crazy or unique. If you’re preparing to move and are worried, don’t be. If you’re thinking about moving to a new place but are hesitant because you don’t know anyone, don’t be!
I have successfully made it through my first apartment lease and am anxiously awaiting my next. Living in my first apartment proved to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I loved the feeling of finding a home, taking care of a place and feeling like it was my own.
Last year around this same time, I wrote Moving into Your First College Apartment for the OCM Blog. Since then I have only gained more helpful hints and tricks, so I’m editing and adding onto my first apartment guide here today!
A week and a half ago I graduated from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign; it seems like just last year I was telling you guys about my high school graduation! Turns out that was actually three years ago. I think it’s true what they say; time goes by faster and faster as you get older.
Graduating college has meant a lot of change. I moved back home. I had to update my about me page because I can no longer call myself a college blogger?! I’m taking the first real break since who-knows-when.
Life has been good though, and I’m thoroughly enjoying my break. I’m taking the time to spend time with friends and family, enjoy the warm weather and post here three times a week (starting next week look out for posts Monday, Wednesday and Friday). I’m also taking this time to work on my Youtube channel. I’ll be posting once a week to Youtube, so make sure to watch for a new video every Friday! Despite editing my about me page because I can no longer call myself a college blogger, I’ll still be sharing college-related posts. After graduating, I think I can give an even better perspective on this whole crazy journey we call college. I’ll also be adding post-grad posts into the mix, giving my advice on the job hunt and living a fulfilling life in your 20s, etc. I’m really excited about this more specific direction I have decided to take!
So… The moment you have all been waiting for, I know. Outside of keeping up with Ali in Bloom, what are my post-grad plans? In an effort to be as transparent and open as possible with you all, I will be the first to admit: I have no definitive, concrete plan, and right now, I’m okay with that.
The past three years have been the busiest, most life-changing years of my life. I grew up. I found myself. I discovered new passions and made my way back to old ones. Now, I’m taking this opportunity to sit down and reflect on where life has lead me and on how I’ve grown as a person. Being able to self-reflect and better understand myself, I can only hope, will help me in the future to be the best person I can be.
Now, when I say I have no definitive, concrete plan, I don’t mean to say that I have no plan at all. If you have been around since January, you probably saw my goals for 2016. One of the goals I set for 2016 was to turn my blog into a business and make it my full-time job. I still want to turn Ali in Bloominto a business. I love this blog, you guys. I really do. It has been with me for so long- through so many different parts of my life. I’m not forgetting about this goal. I still have my business plan tucked away in my journal along with mini-goals to keep me on track, but for a number of reason, I won’t be pursuing Ali in Bloomfull-time just yet. Here’s why:
I want direction. I do want to move out of Illinois at some point in my life (by that I mean some point very soon). As much as I love it here, I don’t want to miss a single opportunity to explore and see the world. Taking on the challenge of moving somewhere new is something I think needs to be experienced at least once in a lifetime. Working as a full-time blogger, I wouldn’t have a reason to move. I still could, but finding a job out of state is definitely a little nudge that I want for myself- plus it takes away the difficult decision of choosing where in the world to move.
I want experience. Sure, managing my own website looks great on a resume, but I’ve never worked in the corporate world full-time. I want to give it a try so that I can know both ends of the spectrum. I really strongly feel that working for a company will give me invaluable skills.
I want stability. Right out of college, I feel like I need stability to get up on my feet. I have student loan debt and an empty savings account. College will do that to you, am I right? I want a steady job that can help me in the next chapter of my life as I move out on my own and take on more expenses.
I want to be a part of a team. This may be the biggest reason I want to join the corporate world. I love being a part of something bigger than myself. At Ali in Bloom, it’s just me.
With that being said, I will start my job search in July after I finish up the last of my break plans. I’m hoping to find a position in the editorial field. One of the major things I learned quickly on this break is that I love writing and inspiring. At the end of the day, writing is the reason I started blogging in the first place. The wonderful connections I’ve made and photography, videography and marketing skills I’ve learned along the way are all bonuses.
All in all, I am so very excited for this next phase in my life. I may not have a concrete plan, but that only makes it more exhilarating. I could end up anywhere. I could do anything. Meet anyone. Experience everything. As I move forward in my job hunt, I will be sure to keep you in the loop and let you know where I end up. And thank you. Thank you to everyone who has read Ali in Bloom once or 100 times. It doesn’t matter. You all have supported my passion and helped me rediscover my purpose!
Did you have a concrete plan when you graduated college? Did they unfold how you expected they would?
Financial freedom can feel a long way off for recent college grads. With student loans and a starting salary, money can be tight. With graduation coming up in less than two months, I was excited to chance upon meeting Janine Rogan, a tax accountant and personal finance/ lifestyle blogger. After hearing about her passion for empowering women to take control of their personal finances, I obviously needed to ask her a few questions and request some words of wisdom. Here are the personal finance tips for college grads that she had to offer:
Ali: Most of us have it… Is there any real strategy to paying off student debt? Is sticking to the minimum payment enough? What advice do you have on paying it off? Is there a percentage of our salaries that we should delegate toward this, etc.?
Janine: I would say in terms of strategy, you need to line up all of your debt and determine which one has the highest interest rate. This is the one that you need to pay off first. Once you have determined this, I would say that you should aim to pay off your debt as fast as possible. Definitely pay more than the minimum balance! That being said, you still need to have room in your budget to slowly grow your savings account and have a little bit of fun money. It’s definitely a balance game!
A: Speaking of percentages… Is there a foolproof way to budget your money? How much of your salary do you think should be spent on fixed expenses, flexible spending, etc.?
J: It’s going to be different for everyone, based on what your living costs are. As a general rule, living on less than 50% of your income is a good idea. Then you can put the rest towards savings, debt and your variable expenses than might come up during the month.
*For my own personal budget, I have been looking a lot into the 50/20/30 method. It sounds a lot like the advice Janine is giving us!
A: With all of these newly acquired bills, how do you suggest young professionals cut back on expenses and save a little extra money each month?
J: There are lots of ways to cut back expenses; the best way to see what you can cut from your budget is to track your expenses for at least a month and see where you are spending your money. If it doesn’t align with your values, then you need to readjust. Likewise if there are expenses that you are shocked by, it might be time to cut back. If you are finding it hard to cut back, it might be time to increase your income.
A: If a recent grad has money to spare after paying the bills, making her student loan payment and saving a little, do you think she should be investing? Or is her money better put in her savings account or added to her student loan payment? When should we first consider investing?
J: Absolutely! The earlier you start investing, the better! Some of your income should be allocated to your savings account. It’s really important to have an emergency fund, and you should be putting as much as you can toward your debt… however, socking a small sum of money into something that will grow your nest egg over the next few decades is a good idea!
A: What do you believe is the biggest mistake young 20-somethings are making with their finances? How can we avoid making it?
J: I think not caring about money is the biggest mistake. A lot of young people think they have all the time in the world to think about their finances, but the truth is the sooner you get your financial ducks in a row, the better off you’ll be.
A: I’m really hoping that I’m not the only one who has never filed their own taxes, so I’m going to ask: what are the most important things recent grads should know before they file their own taxes for the first time?
J: No, you definitely aren’t. There are a lot of people that don’t know a lot about taxes, and usually it’s because the tax system is so daunting. I think all new grads should know the basics. Know how much money you’re making and about how much you should be paying in taxes a year (there are lots of online calculators available). The IRS and CRA aren’t perfect and make mistakes sometimes, so it is important to know what you should be paying.
A: Are there any last minute words of wisdom that you think college grads need to hear in order to take control of their personal finances?
J: Being in control of your money gives you the freedom to spend your money on the things that actually count and will make a difference in your life, so take control of your money as soon as you can; it’s one of the most powerful tools you can have.