June 18th, 2013 by sophie
You’ve graduated from college. The past 17 years of your life have been dedicated to schoolwork and I’m sure you’d like a break. But it’s an important time for planning your next move. Some opt to travel while others dive right into the job market. What should you do?
The benefits of traveling post-graduation:
• Free your mind. After many years of school and hours studying for finals, give your mind a break so you can be fresh and motivated to start looking for a job.
• Your vacation time is unlimited. When you start working full time, you’ll be limited to a couple weeks of vacation per year – if you’re lucky. Take advantage of your unlimited time while you can.
• Experience the world. Strive to immerse yourself in different cultures and learn about how others live. Some employers admire time spend abroad because it demonstrates maturation and initiative.
The benefits of looking for a job:
• Pay off those loans. If you’ve racked up some debt, it can be relieving to start paying it off as soon as possible with your new salary.
• It takes time. Finding a job usually isn’t easy. It can take weeks and even months. The earlier you start, the sooner you could land a job.
• Maintain your motivation. Chances are, you’re still in school mode. Keep it up by applying your brainpower to searching for a job.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. Consider your short-term and long-term goals to decide what’s right for you. If you are looking for a job, check out these tips here in Welcome to the Real World. If you’re thinking of traveling instead, here are some budgeting tips for summer travel.
June 12th, 2013 by sophie
If you think your father is the best in the entire world, you might be tempted to shower him with gifts. But there are less expensive ways to show your love and appreciation. Check out the following cheap – but still special – ways to celebrate Father’s Day without breaking the bank.
• Get artsy. Whip out your “inner artist” and make dad a homemade card. It worked like a charm when you were five, so why not now? Plus, you will save some cash on a store-bought card.
• Get personal. Gift certificates can be expensive. But what about a coupon of your own creation? Perhaps he’d like a massage, a coupon to clean his car or a night off from taking out the trash – all of which you can do for absolutely free.
• Get outside. Few fathers would argue with simply spending quality time with his offspring. Research a nice hike he might like or pack a picnic and take it fishing.
• Get cooking. You’ve heard the saying, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Cook him a breakfast buffet, dinner feast or homemade pastry basket.
• Get on the phone. Not living nearby anymore? Pick up the phone to tell your dad how much he means to you.
You don’t have to spend loads of cash to make dad happy. All you need is some creativity!
If you live in an apartment or a home, you need to factor in the cost of utilities so you don’t overspend by doing things like cranking the AC in the summer and heat in the winter. Utilities can vary depending on your landlord and where you live. Here are a list of possible utilities and their average costs:
• Garbage. Typically, trash pickup is included in your rent if you live in an apartment. If not, it can cost $10-40 per month, on average. To set up trash pickup services, contact your local city hall for information about refuse collection.
• Electric. This utility covers needs like air conditioning and lights. Keep an eye on the air conditioning in the summer, which could significantly raise your electric bill. If you don’t use your air conditioning and monitor how much you turn on lights, the average cost can be $30-50 per month. One company that offers both electric and gas services is PG&E.
• Gas. You use this utility when you fire up your burners, oven and heating system. If you live in an apartment complex with radiators, you probably won’t have to pay for heat. Also, depending on how much you cook at home and whether you have a gas range, the bill can average $15 per month.
• Cable/Internet/Phone. There are many different options when it comes to these utilities. Do you want just basic cable channels or HDTV? What about a sports channel package? Do you want high-speed wireless internet? Will you have a landline phone? Ask your cable company if there are any specials – sometimes it’s cheaper to sign up for more. But also ask if the specials expire or you could be confronted with a high bill in a few months. Companies offering these services include Comcast and DirectTV.
• Water. This utility is also usually included in your rent and handled by your landlord. On the small chance it’s not, the average monthly bill can be $10-30.
You can lower your utility costs by living with roommates; splitting the utility bills with others lowers individual costs. Utilities are an important part of renting that need to be monitored closely. Look for sudden increases in your monthly bill and pay your bills on time.
For help tracking your monthly budget, check out this Rework Your Budget calculator.
The job market is tough. Don’t make it even harder by committing avoidable errors in how you present yourself and your work experience. Make sure you’re doing the following to ensure the best possible chances of landing a job.
• Research the company. Know who the owner is and when the company was started. What are its goals? How many employees are there and what are their roles? The more informed you are, the better you’ll be able to answer specific questions about the job.
• Proofread your resume. Nothing says incompetent than a glaring spelling error on your resume. It should also be concise and laid out in an organized manner. Make it easy for potential employers to quickly familiarize themselves with your background.
• Write a cover letter. This is an opportunity for the potential employer to get a sense of your voice. Don’t simply reiterate the previous employment on your resume. Explain why you want to work at that particular company and how your skills can contribute to the position. As with your resume, proof it for grammatical errors before you send.
• Sell yourself. Provide a link to your portfolio or bring samples of your past work to your interview to sell your skills. If you are showcasing your work on the web, make sure it’s user friendly by being easy to access and browse.
• Dress professionally. Your physical appearance says a lot about who you are. Even if the other employees are in jeans and t-shirts, you should be wearing professional attire. This means slacks and blouses that don’t reveal too much.
• Ask questions. At the end of the interview, there is usually a time for you to ask questions about the company or position. Prepare questions ahead of time and ask them. This demonstrates that you’ve done your research and are taking initiative to understand the role further.
For more tips on finding a new gig, check out What’s My Score’s Welcome to the Real World Job Search Resources and Finding a Job.