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A Financial Guide on What to Do After College

Use these resources to help you set up retirement savings, tackle debt, and begin investing.


Editor’s Note: A version of this article previously appeared on Dec. 20, 2023.

Congratulations, graduates! Now that your march to “Pomp and Circumstance” is over, here comes the fun part: navigating your first job, setting up your retirement plan … the list goes on. This guide will help you with the many “firsts” you’ll face during this turning point in your financial lives.

What Are My Company’s Benefits?

A big part of starting your first job is understanding your benefits, like your company’s retirement plan options. As you find yourself in a flurry of first-day jitters and paperwork, some of the questions running through your mind may be:

  • What retirement savings plans does my new employer offer?
  • How much should I be saving for retirement?
  • Do I have to get my own insurance now?
  • Am I eligible to invest in a health savings account, or will a flexible savings account be a better fit?
  • Where is the best place to begin?

We have all the answers to those questions and more.

How Do I Manage My Money Better?

Earning your own money can be exciting. Making smart, financial decisions about where those dollars go is … a little less so. You’ll most likely be juggling several financial goals and responsibilities, like:

  • Saving for retirement
  • Paying down debt
  • Building an emergency fund

Just to name a few. Find balance by creating a realistic budget, keep your financial goals in mind, and protect your money with these tips.

How Can I Tackle My Debt?

Debt is an intimidating subject—and reality for a lot of people, especially college graduates. Student loan debt at graduation is an estimated $37,650 per student, according to research from the Education Data Initiative.

As your financial journeys continue to unfold, you’ll face other kinds of debt, too: credit card debt, auto loans, mortgages, and so on. I know what you’re thinking: So when do we get to the good part?

Here’s the good news: you can take control of your debt.

How Can I Improve My Financial Literacy?

Before you download a brokerage app or open up an investment account, take some time to learn the basics about investing. Undergrad may be over, but financial literacy is a lifelong course.

From the best investing books for beginners to the ins and outs of the most common investment vehicles, build your financial knowledge with these resources and real life portfolios.

The author or authors do not own shares in any securities mentioned in this article. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.

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About the Author

Carole Hodorowicz

Audience Engagement Editor
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Carole Hodorowicz is a former audience engagement editor for Focusing on the individual investor audience, she managed content, created explainer videos, and wrote articles about different topics in finance for beginners.

Hodorowicz joined Morningstar in 2015 as a customer support representative for Morningstar Office before moving into an editorial role.

Hodorowicz holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University.

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