Just Graduated? 3 Things To Do in Your Early 20s to Set Yourself Up For Financial Independence

College graduation is a huge mile marker—but sometimes it can seem like real life afterward isn’t what you thought it would be. (I know, shocking.) It’s a time to find a new direction after twenty years of school. You're released into summer, notoriously not a chill time for casual hangs, low urgency. And the most pressing issues all seem to center around one thing: money. 

How do you land a job that will cover your needs? What’s the best way to prepare for the future? How do you balance having fun now?

Let’s cover a few top tips so you can be confident in your financial independence.

Set a Budget Using the 50/20/30 Rule

A budget allows you to balance your needs, wants, and saving for the future—but how do you know if you have the right balance? One way to guide your budget is rolling the 50/30/20 ratio. 

Fixed Needs: Your fixed needs include rent/mortgage, a car payment, food, clothing, and bills like internet and your phone. Keep these in check by budgeting 50% of your income for these expenses.

Wants: You should enjoy life now! Plan to use 30% of your income for wants, like cool trips, clothes, apartment upgrades, and eating out. PRO TIP: Want a significant other? Dates cost money! Dating apps cost money! Budget for this.

Future: Prepare for your future by dedicating 20% of your income to savings. This includes 401k contributions, investments, and liquid savings in a traditional savings account. 

Pursue the Best Job with Flexibility 

Did you graduate and feel stuck? Unfortunately, many college graduates find themselves working in a job unrelated to their degree or without real growth opportunities. Maybe you didn’t pick the best major for the job market or didn’t get the best internship during college. It may seem unfair, but don’t get stuck in that mindset! 

Working in the same job or even the same field from graduation to retirement is an outdated ideal. Recent studies show that, on average, successful people change jobs every three to five years.

How do you successfully upgrade your working situation? Try these:

  • Networking consistently gives you the best chances at applications, interviews, and job placement. (Networking is—absolutely—cringe/eye-roll emoji, but literally everyone does it. You can call it something else, like, "conversing." Or "dream making." But those alternatives are confusing. And suck.)
  • Continue pursuing new skills. You wanna learn 3D modeling? Pick up a language? Get certified in digital marketing? There's literal apps to help you continue to learn and grow and expand your professional repertoire. 
  • Keep the big picture for the life you want in mind. In that big picture, accept that there will be set-backs, failures and dead-ends. But keep your vision intact!  

The Future is Now

Everyone has heard the statistics about how saving a small amount of money ten years earlier creates massively increased returns than starting in your 30s. And it’s true! So take care of your future self now by saving intentionally: 

  • Take advantage of 401k matches.
  • Have a 3- to 6-month rainy day fund.
  • Continue learning about investments.


Kora is dedicated to helping college students successfully manage their finances now and after graduation. Use their app to track finances, compare where you stand against other students, and get notifications– plus earn up to 10% cashback with the Kora Student Card! Get started today!




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