College Graduates: The Real World Is Better Than Hell

Dear College Graduates,

I’m sorry to say, but the good times are over! I know making a living on your own might sound scary, but heck, millions of people have done so in the past, so have some faith. 

From a physical standpoint, you’ll probably only get flabbier, grayer, and more stressed. Don't be surprised if you start experiencing chronic back pain, elbow pain, shoulder pain, sciatica, and plantar fasciitis.

The common cold will visit you more often than a good friend will on Facebook. Let's at least hope you got vaccinated and don't catch the coronavirus. Meanwhile, your face will likely start breaking out as if you were going through puberty again.

If you think you don’t look good in pictures now, just wait five years! You’ll look back and realize how good you looked all along.

The real world is tough no doubt about it. Globalization has made competition a nightmare. Housing costs in major job centers has become prohibitively expensive. And student debt level has never been higher. What's a young adult supposed to do?

Here’s some candid advice for new college graduates and 20-somethings trying to make it in this great cruel world. 

Related: An Unemployment Epidemic For College Graduates

Candid Advice For College Graduates

1) Create a massive professional network. 

If you're not one of the privileged, the system is stacked against you. The people who get the best jobs are the ones who are not only smart, but who are also well connected. The best way to compete is to build relationships with people who are in power. Even if you don't respect them because they didn't have to hustle as hard for you, swallow your pride and break into their circle. Drink where they drink. Play where they play.

2) Forget about your college degree.

Once you have a job, nobody will give a crap about your grades, what school you went to, or where you spent your summers volunteering to help eradicate malaria. College graduates are a dime a dozen. All your employer will care about is whether you can add more value than you cost. Always remember this!

They've already made a decision to hire you. Now prove their decision correct. The only people who always talk about where they went to college are too insecure to show what they can do now. Where you went to college is only a reflection of how well you did in high school. 

3) Live like a college student for as long as possible.

There's no need to live in a nice place the first 5-10 years post college. Instead, try and live exactly as you did in college by sharing a room or finding housemates. You should be spending most of your time at work and on your side gig instead of at home. Nobody cares if you live in a hole in the wall. It's to be expected. Only if you've found a partner with a nice income or you want to start a family should you spend up on housing.

Related: Housing Expense Guideline For Financial Independence

4) Play a forever sport: tennis or golf or both.

Advice For College Graduates - College Graduates: The Real World Is Better Than Hell

Surprise! Unless your job is in research, you don't need a brilliant mind to get ahead. Instead, you need to learn how to connect with people. Common interests bring people together, no matter what age, sex, seniority level, or race. By playing tennis or golf, you increase your chances of spending time with other people who enjoy the two sports.

For some reason, tennis and golf are two of the most popular sports enjoyed by people in positions of power. If you can spend one-on-one time with a person for 1 – 5 hours, you will inevitably build a better relationship. If you have no athletic skills whatsoever, learn as much as you can about golf, tennis, football, and basketball so you can smoothly participate in all the small talk. Go Warriors!

Related: Should I Join A Private Sports Club? Yes You Should

5) Always be building your brand.

The resume is going to be a thing of the past. Instead, every single employer or prospective client wants to get to know as much about you as possible through your online profile before doing any business.

Yes, have a LinkedIn profile given it's the largest professional network today. But also have your own website where you can shape your brand. You will find more opportunities due to your online presence thanks to the law of attraction. A strong brand is imperative for achieving maximum value.

Related: How To Build A Stronger Brand For Everything

6) Give as much face time as possible 

Because you will initially provide minimal value to your employer, face time is extremely important. Face time means your boss always sees you at your desk by the time she comes in and when she leaves. Your senior colleagues all want to see you put in the effort, even if you aren't adding much value yet. They are betting on your potential. 

7) Know your place.

Please, for the love of God, stay humble and hungry in the work place. The first people to get fired are the know-it-alls who aren't willing to listen or learn from others. Respect your elders, do what you're told, and always ask whether you can help others when you're idle.

Related: Emotional Intelligence: The Key To A Better Life

8) If you think you’re so great, go out on your own.

Only a few lucky people can say they truly love their job more than 50% of the time. Either find another firm that recognizes your abilities, or start your own company. It would be a crying shame if you were stuck in an environment that suppressed your creativity. Even if you fail, at least you'll know you tried.

You'll also become more appreciative of having a day job once you fail as an entrepreneur. Take more risks when you have less money and zero dependents.


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5 Money Lessons For College Students

9) Let go of comparisons. 

Within five years out of college, you’ll start seeing many people your same age drive expensive cars and purchase nice homes. You’ll constantly ask yourself, “How can they afford such things?” All you’ve got to do is do the math.

A lot of your peers are not buying houses and expensive cars on their own. Its the Bank of Mom & Dad hooking them up. If you try to keep up with them, you'll lose because it's two balance sheets against your one. If you aren’t lucky enough to have parents who still change your diapers at 27, focus on building your own wealth. You'll feel a far greater sense of pride. 

10) Take care of your body.

Life is messed up because our bodies are in the best shape of our lives in our 20s. Yet, we kill ourselves by trying to get ahead in our careers. Having a proper mind / body connection is imperative to prevent burnout. Have an ideal body weight dear college graduates.

Burnout is what makes you irrationally quit a job with nothing lined up when you have little experience and no money. If you burn out too soon, you destroy your wealth creation potential. Do not join the majority of Americans who don't care about their health. 

Related: Track Everything! We're Eating And Spending Way Too Much

11) Save early and invest often.

You've got to get in the habit of saving a painful amount of money each paycheck. If you aren't feeling pain, then you're not saving enough. After years of developing a savings mindset, you minimize the risk of financial ruin because you'll always be spending less than you make even if you start making the mega bucks. Further, your savings / investments should grow mightily after 10+ years thanks to the power of compounding interest.

Related: How Much Should I Have Saved By Age?

12) Passive income will be your best friend.

The whole point of saving and investing is to develop passive income streams. And the whole point about having passive income streams is so that you have the optionality to do something new once you hate your job. I don't care if you work at Google or McKinsey, you will eventually not want to go to work anymore. Passive income will allow you to take that leap of faith.

Related: Ranking The Best Passive Income Streams

13) It can get very expensive to wait to have a kid.

Kids are expensive, but waiting until you’re in your mid 30s or later to have kids could literally cost you $20,000 – $100,000 to try and conceive. What’s worse, you might not even be able to have a child after spending all that money. Having children is obviously a personal choice. Just know that your odds for having a baby decline the older you get.

There's also the psychological trauma you may experience due to miscarriages and false hope. It's not easy being a working pregnant woman in America. On the flip side, it can also be very expensive to have a kid early due to the time a kid takes away from work.  

The cost of having multiple kids is not only the money, but all the time. Some parents have multiple kids and end up neglecting their children!

14) Do something that matters. 

If you have to, sacrifice for the first 10 years of your post college life in order to shore up your finances and give yourself experience and optionality. After 10 years, if you aren't doing work that's meaningful, leave. You will absolutely regret not taking a chance at doing something you love when you're much older.

Keep searching for that something you'd do for free. I guarantee you will find more joy making $50,000 a year doing something that matters versus making $1,000,000 selling sugary drinks to kids.

Related posts:

What If You Go To Harvard And End Up A Nobody?

How Employers Take Advantage Of Its Employees

15) Perseverance is the key to progress.

Some call perseverance grit. Either way, those of you who can keep on going no matter what will fulfill your dreams. It takes grit to stay awake from 10pm – 6am taking care of a baby while also trying to do some work. Gut it out.

It takes grit to work on a side business while working 60 hours a week at your day job. But if you do, success is an inevitability. When you do achieve your goals, try to stay as humble as possible.

BONUS: Embrace criticism. You will be annoyed at older people nit picking at all your flaws. But older people have already been where you want to go. Therefore, spend as much time as possible with the people who want to give you feedback. Keep and open mind and take some of their advice. Stubbornness will get you in a lot of trouble. “Your critics are the ones still telling you they love you and care,” Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon professor. “Tell the truth.”

Don't Look Back With Regret

Dear college graduates, make the best use of your youth!

30 will come way sooner than you think. Hopefully, you’ll have either made it by 30 or know that you're on the right path by 30. If you mess around in your 20s, you'll probably play catch up for at least a decade because success begets success. The cacophony of bitterness you hear is from the ones who decided to YOLO a little too much. Please don't waste your youth by trying to keep up on appearances with people you don't like.

You will regret more of the things you don't try than the things you do. I've found this to be true after 40 years of living. Even if you fail, you'll find peace knowing that at least you tried. Please think about how great your life will be based on the things you do today.


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Readers, any new graduates out there want to share their thoughts about the future? What do you plan to do with your one and only exciting life? Any older readers out there want to share what they should have done differently right out of college? My biggest error was not listening more to my colleagues. I thought I knew so much, when in reality, I knew so little.

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 100,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. Everything is written based off firsthand experience. College graduates, never stop learning!

42 thoughts on “College Graduates: The Real World Is Better Than Hell”

  1. ThisIsAllNew

    Ok so I’ve got the degree, I’ve got a decent salary job, and I am on track to save about 50k a year, but I’ll also be paying 50k in taxes! I know real estate is the absolute best tax deduction, but I live in a 600k+ area and my savings are closer to 10k than the 120k 20% down. Meanwhile I pay 25k in rent. Should I fear getting into real estate with low equity? Stashing the savings to do nothing but yield interest lower than inflation seems like a dumb move, but what else can I do?

  2. Definitely keep learning. For job growth, but also because the world is full of wonderful things and I don’t know most of them yet.

    I enjoy tennis, but I don’t understand why tennis and golf are so beloved by rich people in this country. Is it because you can still be good when you are not at your athletic prime? Is it because the hobby is expensive and you can “keep the wrong sort of folks” out?

    1. I think it’s because you can play until you’re old. People have a natural desire to balance physical activity with mental activity, at least I know I do. And people also have a natural desire to be around other people. Spending quality 1X1 time for 1-5 hours with someone on the tennis court or golf course achieves these two desires.

      It’s much easier to get ahead when you have good relationships.

  3. I love the points about creating a massive professional network and taking care of your body.
    A great thing I did while still in university was talking with people who were older and more established than me. It’s easy as a young twenty-something to stay in your bubble of other young twenty-somethings, but there is a huge benefit to talking and hanging around older people. You learn a lot about life as well!

  4. Sam,
    Another excellent, informative post…i could have used this advice back in 2000…it’s funny, i tell my younger cousins about not worrying about what college they go to because employers and coworkers never talk about it…
    Take care,

  5. Great post!

    #1 is number one for a reason – it is indeed the most important, in my opinion. However, I disagree with how it is framed. Focusing on “Creating a professional network” is exactly how NOT to create a professional network. Being an overall good person, listening to others, and not being too quick to make judgements is how you make a network of organic, genuine relationships that could eventually turn fruitful in a professional capacity.

    Many times, it is the friend of a friend, old teammate, or some random person you just met at the bar who will be your most valuable professional connections. These kinds of things introductions and outcomes are impossible to predict, but being an asshole will almost surely eliminate any chance you might have had, so don’t be an asshole, and don’t try to make relationships exclusively for professional reasons!

    And of course, select your inner circle of “best friends” wisely. “You are who you hang out with” holds true in many cases.

  6. There is a lot of great advice in this post. Living like a college student for five – ten years after graduation is important. So many people get that first job and buy a house and a new car and end up in debt. Living like a college student will help you get your finances in order. It will motivate you to make enough money so that you can actually afford the car and the house.

  7. I absolutely agree with all of the professional advice you listed. Networking is the most important thing. No one cares about schools, even on LinkedIn that information is smooshed towards the end of your profile! Experience comes first.

    11, 12, 14 & 15 are all great advice but they all require some form of long-term investments and this is where I see a lot of people fail. It’s touch and go for a lot of people. Not readers of Samurai per se, I’ve seen the polls, readers here skewed towards the much higher end. But generally speaking, delaying gratification is hard for normal Americans.

    Thinking about 13 (having children) & it sounds like a double edge sword. Career, cash, or kid? Pick two. Argh! But it’s hard for me as a woman to say “no kids ever.” It’s one of those things you’ll royally regret or won’t regret.

    I’ll be 26 this year. For my one and only exciting life…well I wanted to be Cindy Crawford when I was younger…but I’ll be realistic and settle for infamous writer.

  8. Vancouver Brit

    I really wish someone beat me around the head with #3 and #11 much earlier in my life, though I am thankful I discovered this on my own at around 26 (which is likely much earlier than many people). I wish I was good at #1 too but it isn’t easy as an introvert. To me this is the main reason extrovert personalities dominate the highest earners on the Myer’s Briggs scale.

    Can’t say I agree entirely with #13 but that might be because I am not too inclined to have kids anyway. There is a major opportunity cost to having kids young, one in which I am not comfortable with. If my wife were to have a kid now (28) she would be foregoing a great career path and decent salary with the potential to struggle to get back on track after several years out. By mid 30’s she would likely be pretty established in her career and be able to get back in relatively easily.

  9. Sam,

    have you ever considered Brazilian Ju-Jitsu? Even though it looks aggressive, the word Ju-jitsu stands for the gentle art.

    It is certainly a forever sport that you can make excellent connections with. If you tried an introductory class for free, you would love it.

    It’s human chess. There is punishments and consequences for moves you make. Strategy with the human form.

    Give it a shot!

  10. Great advice for grads and just as great of a refresher for people well into their careers to continue to strive. I updated my Linkedin last week to clarify language in work experience and add recent training. You can always find something to improve upon in your profile.

  11. Steve D Poling

    I beg to differ. Hell is a nice little town which happens to be about 380 miles south of Paradise, Michigan. Since it’s a real place, I think that puts it in a tie with the real world.

  12. I wouldn’t say tennis is a forever sport to anyone with bad knees but golf definitely fits the bill!

    I think finding your niche and not chasing dollars is an important lesson also. Not everyone can work for GS or Google so find a passion you like. I work in non-profit fundraising, not a career where I can retire after saving for 10 years, but one I enjoy. I didn’t even go to school for this but fell into it, enjoy it enough, and it pays the bills so I don’t mind having to work for more years than an i-banker. Living in a lower COL area really makes it easier.

    I would also add–don’t be afraid to change jobs a bit early on. In the same field, I changed jobs every 1-2 years 3 times and am now happy and staying put. In my field, you only get better pay if someone leaves so the only way to get a significant raise is to go somewhere else. I don’t plan on leaving this job for a while because after working three places, I knew what to look for and what to ask for with the current job and I got it (plus I knew what to look for at interviews when it came to a bad place to work–ie why the previous person left). However, don’t continue to be a short-term job jumper forever–there is no such thing as a perfect job, and you don’t want the new job to be a worse working environment than the last job just for a 20-30% raise. Also, after a while, too many short term jobs are bad for the résumé.

  13. I just finished my PhD this semester (age 28) and #10 is definitely of great importance to me right now. School, and grad school in particular, can really take a toll on your body, but I’m hoping to re-develop some good habits now.

    Number 3, living like a college student as for as long as possible, is another thing that really resonated with me, but it’s also tempting to live a life of greater luxury after having limited earnings for 5 years. We’ll see how it goes.

  14. “Tennis and Golf”. Let me add running to that list. The networking I have gained from running races is insane, I still have people text me about races that I haven’t seen in 10 years.

  15. Stealth Saver

    I wish you had written this 15 years ago for me to see :)

    I will make my kids read it though.

    By the way you are spot on with number 2. In my entire career no one has ever inquired into it. Makes me think that I could have skipped it all together and just added it to my resume. Although maybe I should turn it into an MSc now.

  16. The big one for me was networking. Fresh out of school I use to blow off team outings and other social work activities, especially during work hours. I thought I’m here to work not fraternize. I was wrong. Since then I participate in these events to network and it helps my career. Don’t go to far and be the lush and the Xmas party who sinks their career, but do attend and have a beer. It might bring you a connection to your next job.

    1. Yup – much easier to move up the corporate ladder with a bit of schmoozing – I hate doing it but it works.

  17. Sage advice and as a slightly early retired guy doing multiple side gigs for fun I can say I followed it pretty closely and was well rewarded. I’d add a couple of things. If you marry then cultivate some common interests so that you can stay married. Divorce has a huge emotional and financial cost to both spouses and to any children caught up in it. I am still married to my starter/trophy wife for 39 years today, yes happy anniversary to us! Tomorrow we’ll be up early to run eight miles together and most weeks we play tennis together. We also run separately at times and play a lot of tennis with our own gender but having tennis, running, hiking, fishing and skiing as common hobbies has very much helped. The only other thing I’d put out there is that sometimes you can do your side gig at work and get paid for it. I don’t mean work for yourself while pretending you are doing your job, that would be dishonest. I mean volunteer for the tasks that are outside of your peers comfort zone. In my case as an introverted engineer surrounded by introverted engineers I volunteered to give plant tours, speeches, lobby local government, attend political and civic and chamber of commerce meetings, join civic and charity boards and tackle regulatory problems at work along with anything nobody else wanted to do. I did this for two reasons, to build a network which you covered superbly in your post but also to build my future side gigs. Now retired and not needing a penny in additional earnings I enjoy making six figures working part time lobbying, litigation support, and a couple of technical regulatory consultancies. I rarely work over three days a week, sometimes less and have yet to have to touch my savings in retirement. I built the side gigs as part of my job with my company’s approval because it was work needing doing and outside the other engineers skill sets. I literally created the side gigs the week before I retired and walked into three nicely paying gigs the next week and a fourth really nice one a couple of months later. If you have a demanding job and have limited time outside of work like I did you still may be able to build your future inside the context of your job. I think it is worth considering.

  18. Sam, this may be one of my favorite posts by you yet.

    Being that I’m only 6 years post-college, some of these even resonate with me now, specifically number 15. There are some days where I feel so overwhelmed trying to work on the blog after work amongst all the everyday chores I’ve got going on, but looking at how successful others bloggers are (i.e. you) makes me realize this is a hump to get over. If I keep persevering eventually this could (hopefully) be my full-time job.

    Number 11 is what I wish I knew. I was clueless about investing and horrible at saving. Being in college I used my savings for things like dinner and drinks and shopping and other activities. I wish I had done less of that and invested more. It’s something I am constantly trying to stress the importance of to my younger brother, sister in law and her boyfriend, as well as other people my own age.

    Number 9 is also something that is truly applicable to EVERYONE, but definitely better to realize at a younger age. A majority of the people I see driving around expensive cars or constantly buying designer things don’t have help from their parents, but rather are drowning in debt. People are too impatient to hold off on doing these things for themselves until they actually have the money to afford that kind of lifestyle.

  19. My advice to a new college graduate would be to immediately make the moves toward financial independence. At this stage you may think that paying your own expenses from your new wage income means you’re already there, but this is just financial independence from parents. Your goal should be to gain financial independence from your employer.

    Why should I do this? Doesn’t it imply a lack of confidence in my future? Not at all– sure having a stash can tide you over in case bad things happen, but it’s also a major advantage if a once in a lifetime opportunities appears. Like if some startup needs your time or capital, if your paycheck has been barely covering your expenses, you won’t be able to afford to invest either.

    The moves you want to make are listed above in #3,9,11,12. The overall strategy is living small while earning large, investing the difference in tax advantaged accounts up to their limits, and taxable accounts for what’s left. Can this all wait until my wage income grows to a comfortable level? In short the answer is NO do it NOW because the power of compounding delivers the biggest gains to your earliest dollars invested.

    Some people equate financial independence to early retirement, and while it’s a natural consequence, it’s not required. In my case reaching my number allowed me to negotiate some changes I wanted to my job parameters and so it has actually extended my career. Freedom or control, take your pick.

  20. My advice for someone in their 20s would be the opposite of most common wisdom. I agree don’t succumb to lifestyle inflation and get in debt, but focus on enjoying your 20s and not worrying too much about investing. Travel, do what your love, hang out with friends, date and enjoy life while you’re young and don’t have that many responsibilities.

    If you get married young, wait to have kids and enjoy your time with your spouse.

    if you don’t work in a strenuous job, I think it’s well worth working a few extra years when you’re old to enjoy your youth. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

    1. Investing in your 20s allows to retire a LOT sooner than investing in your 30s, 40s. I’d suggest traveling, hanging out with friends etc as well BUT cut back on other areas (cheap cell plan, do without cable and just get netflix, limit alcohol consumption, don’t buy a new car, etc) to fund them, not at the expense of savings.

  21. I feel like this is great advice with a smidge of foreboding – as a college graduate with 3 years of living in ‘the real world’, I can honestly say it’s a lot better than I thought it would be.

    My first few months after graduating were awful. I felt all this pressure to succeed and start living my life and didn’t have a clue what to do. Now, I realise most people don’t know what they’re doing all the way into their 40s and 50s!

    Do something that matters resonates with me most. I’ve already seen how easy it can be to graduate, get a job, and roll comfortably along the same well-trodden path – but how many people who do that are truly fulfilled? More people should be putting themselves out there and seeing what happens – whether they fail or not isn’t important at this stage. Well said!

  22. Great advice and mostly mirrors what I give. The main differences:

    Play a forever sport – I recommend a forever hobby/sport/passion for those not athletically inclined. There are some great organizations out there where you can make connections and also you can get in a lot of valuable networking doing charity/volunteer work.

    Learn how to optimize taxes – I could have saved more money by using strategies to lower what I paid in taxes.

  23. Great graduation speech, Sam!

    I teach high achieving undergrads at a selective private research university, and this applies as much to them as it would have to me (with my liberal arts degree) so many years ago!

    #3 is, of course, super important and practical advice that too few can follow. It is so tempting once you get a “real” paycheck to stock up on the things we “think” we should have — those trappings and accoutrement that show to others that we are successful. These trappings of success too often become traps.

    #4 is great — and wonderful for networking and socializing. Let me add swimming, if the physical benefits are the core goal. And, of course, skiing can be done late into life if you’re not too extreme :)

    #14 might be, in some ways, the most important. The life that lays ahead of us is more than just a career or an income stream. Those income streams and paychecks ought best be directed at some other goal. Live in a way that stocks your mind with the richness and beauty of life (and manage money wisely so that you have a long time to enjoy it)!

  24. Ten Factorial Rocks

    Great advice Sam. I would add “stay humble and kind” to your No. 7. As a senior manager who has probably interviewed/evaluated over 500 people over the course of my career, I have seen how arrogance can derail and paralyze a smart person’s career. People in C-suite know the difference between cockiness and self-confidence, and can smell the former a mile away. The self-confidence you show where you give a critical insight at the right time to solve a business problem and encourage others is vastly different from giving the same insight in a condescending manner. You will burn lot of bridges this way and colleagues will either avoid you or worse, look for ways to stumble your progress.

  25. Take care of your body and DO NOT HAVE KIDS EARLY. The only benefit of having kids in your 20’s is that they are out of the house by the time you are 50. The downside is that your focus changes dramatically. This means less time side hustling, putting in long hours, etc. if you want to be home spending time with the kids.

    1. “The only benefit of having kids in your 20’s is that they are out of the house by the time you are 50.”

      I think you’re missing the biggest benefit – the fact that you get to spend more time on earth with your children (and, likely, grandchildren). My wife and I also started having kids in our 30s and I don’t regret anything, but having more time to watch my kids and future grandkids grow up is becoming more and more important the older I get. Throw in the fact that they would be “off the books” by the time I’m 50 and it’s easy to see the upside of having kids earlier.

      Unfortunately, as you allude to, having kids early requires a good deal of focus and responsibility. That wasn’t exactly me when I was 25. I just don’t think it’s as simple as “DO NOT HAVE KIDS EARLY” and depends on the couple.

      1. Doug, I agree with your statement. When we have kids, we end up loving our kids. Then we tell ourselves, “I wish we had our kid(s) earlier!” simply because we love them so much.

        But of course, we don’t know for sure whether we’re ready to have kids until AFTER we have kids and go through parenthood.

        I do want to write about this subject on when to have kids in an upcoming post.

        The conclusion I have is: if you know you want to have kids, then all else being equal, it’s probably better to have kids earlier due to the reasons you’ve said and also due health and the easier ability to have kids younger. Let me go write this post now!

        1. Sam, good call on the health reasons. Both for the ability to have a child and for the health of the child, it is better to conceive before 30.

          Also, the fact that you are alive is important. Each day that passes is a day closer to your death. That’s life. And when my wife became pregnant I felt this sort of primal feeling of accomplishment, like I helped continue humanity and passed along the family name. Each day that I waited risked the chances of that happening. I know that should be way down on the list of reasons to have kids, but even if I died the next day (fortunately I did not) I was selfishly glad we were able to get pregnant.

          One final reason, since you’re writing an article, the earlier you start to have kids means the more time you are able to have additional kids. Lots of people I know thought they would have 0, 1, or 2 kids and then wished they had 3 or 4, only it was too late.

          PS – My first-born’s name is Sam, too. Great name. Keep up the great work and congrats!

  26. As a recent college graduate myself, I struggle with what I consider the second most important point of this post. “Create a massive professional network”. Ultimately, your career will depend more on who you know than what you know – and having a huge network really helps with just about every aspect of your professional career.

    I never really thought of using sports as a means to connect with someone else. I typically sway away from competitive sports (due to my lack of physical skill), but I may try picking up tennis again. I’ve recently started playing some volleyball, but its not something that’s easy on the arms.

    I think that taking care of your body is the most important take away from this post. It doesn’t matter how rich you are if you are about to die!

  27. Apathy Ends

    Lot of great advice Sam, but I am particularly drawn to number 14, I am six years into my corporate career and spend a lot of time thinking “Outside of a positive performance review and more $, I don’t really care about the problem we are solving”

    In 4 years we will have no debt and at least 300k socked away, should be enough to bet on ourselves (provided we start planning now)

  28. I had the most fun in college my freshman year and after that I was really focused on academics. I was the odd ball because I crammed in extra credits so I could eagerly graduate in 3.5 years. Although most people love college and never want to leave I was actually really excited about leaving and starting a job partly because I was sick of homework lol. I could have had more fun and stayed longer but I don’t have any regrets. I consider myself quite lucky to have graduated so fast because most students take 4.5-5 years these days it seems.

    1. PhilanthroCapitalist

      Hard-working student who will graduate in 4.5-5 years checking in. Colleges nowadays create programs that delay your ability to graduate quickly. By the time I was a junior (now), I was “technically” a senior, with only a few credit hours left (about one semester’s worth). Little did I know, my remaining classes had to be taken in a certain order over the next two years. That meant, functionally, I was still a sophomore.

      But I didn’t know that because I was lucky enough to get matched up with an academic advisor who didn’t know what she was doing. She gave bad advice to a lot of kids, and she ended up getting fired.

      Still, that doesn’t save me any time or money.

      Conveniently, though, it ends up earning the university money. Isn’t that neat? Just another ~$23k that will go towards an expensive building unrelated to my major.

      In fact, only 19% of kids nowadays graduate within four years. Do you think all the students changed? Or the way colleges operate? Complete College America did a report called “The Four-Year Myth” where they note that two extra years in certain colleges can increase a student’s debt load by 70%.

      Personally, I think college is hell. I got a job working in a factory making shims 60-70 hours/week and, even though I lived paycheck to paycheck and had a hard time paying the rent for a couple months, I can say with 100% certainty that it was twice as much fun as what college has put me through — even though I enjoy my classes.

      Still, I like the article. It’s definitely valuable. I’d put something up there about keeping your brain sharp, too.

  29. Mr. Freaky Frugal

    Wow, this is really great advice for new college graduates.

    I think one of the most important points is to save early and invest often. As long as you live well below your means, life will turn out OK. This is the main thing that allowed me to retire early. College graduates should also spend some time learning about investing. It’s better to learn early instead of finding out the hard-way through a painful investing experience.

    The taking care of your body point is also really important. I discovered the Paleo/Primal diet later in life but it has made a huge difference for me and Mrs. Freaky Frugal. I wish I had started much earlier. I also think that taking care of your body requires reasonable breaks from work – if you have vacation time available, take all of it.

    We had a son when we were 30 and another at 33. Children are very expensive but the cost was a really good Happiness Return on Investment for us. To each his own.

    I really agree with the “I don’t care if you work at Google or McKinsey, you will eventually not want to go to work anymore.” I used to love my job and freelance work as a Software Engineer but eventually I got sick of it. At that point, I really just become a Wage Slave. I was lucky to be able to retire by then.

  30. Great advice! I particularly like #3 and #4.
    #3: I once got into that mentality where I got a new job and thought I deserved a studio or a one bedroom in an expensive city. Luckily, it didn’t pan out. I realized how much money I would have wasted if I had gotten a place of my own.

    #4: I heard the same advice from a more senior male who advised his wife and me to spend more time with the management on the golf course to get promoted. If they like you and remember your face, they will think of you when promotion time comes.

  31. Grant @ Life Prep Couple

    3, 10 and 11! I so wish I could go back and tell myself to keep living cheap and to invest 50%+ of my pay. There is so much fantastic free advice on the internet now. You just have to be smart and humble enough to listen. When I graduated in 2009 most of these fantastic blogs didn’t exist.

    My advice would be to get hooked up with as many head hunters as you can find and don’t be afraid to negotiate.

    Great post for all the recent grads out there.

  32. Echoing off of number 10, take care of your body, also learn how to eat correctly. Pounding beers and eating pizza may have been fine in college but your metabolism is going to slow down in a hurry.

    Learn to eat well and start eating nutritious meals early on. You will feel much better when you are grinding at work trying to get ahead. Plus you’ll live hopefully a lot longer :)

    1. This is such good advice! If you are treating your body ten-years post graduation the way you did freshman year, there’s going to be a problem.

      But remember also to treat your mind well. So often we graduate and forget to keep learning new things (apart from the skills that get us ahead at work). College was at least the opportunity to try new areas of scholarship that expand our range of experiences and ideas; it was also a time to widen the set of people with which we interacted.

      So treat your body differently, but keep your mind going in the same creative and inspiring directions!

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