In college, whether you were on the straight and narrow four-year plan or the winding and sidetracked six or seven-year plan, there’s a sense of accomplishment and relief when the end is in sight and a diploma is in your hands. Your financial future, however, may be daunting and full of expectations. As long as you can remember, you were told that as long as you work hard, you’ll get ahead in life.

Unfortunately, a diploma doesn’t automatically guarantee a planned out future and financial security as soon as you graduate. If you have a dream job lined up as soon as you exit your university, consider yourself lucky. According to After College, a job site for new college graduates, only about 14% of college graduates had “real” jobs lined up right after graduation in 2015. While you’re looking for the right job, here are some personal finance tips to keep you afloat:

  • Create a Budget: Maybe you thought your days of scrimping, saving, and eating ramen were behind you. Even if you have a decent paying job after college, it’s important to create a budget and learn to stick to it. When creating a budget, figure in all your expenses (even the ones that aren’t a constant), as it’s important to know how much money you really have to work with. Once you have figured out your monthly expenses, such as rent, student loans, food, car payments, and “fun” stuff, you may feel underwhelmed by the amount of money you are actually making.
  • Stick To Your Budget: If you want to have splurges throughout the year, such as concerts, dinner with old college roommates, or gifts around the holidays, you will have to stick to your budget. If it means going out to eat less and learning how to become a better cook and a coupon-clipping shopper, go for it. It’s a good idea to revisit your budget every couple of months to make sure you’re being financially responsible.
  • Avoid Debt, Try to Be Positive: Life right after college can be a bit “dark”, especially if you feel like you are limiting yourself from having fun, but as an educated adult it’s up to you to be creative and enjoy what you want in life. Don’t get go on vacation with friends? Host a backyard BBQ potluck and invite new friends from work and old friends from college.

It may be tempting to open another credit card if you’re financially strapped, but unless you can make the monthly payments on time, don’t do it. Make the best of your life right now, it’ll get easier if you’re wise with your personal finances.

Your Job as a College Graduate

Employment after college is crucial. Even if you’re completely burned out and would like to go on some sort of a “soul searching” journey, now is not the time. If you’re not finding the “dream job”, don’t worry, a job doesn’t need to be forever. Be open to all kinds of jobs and consider the ones that offer full-time, reasonable pay, and benefits.

You can always pay attention to the job market while already employed, but if you just wait for the right job to come to you, it’s likely your debt will be overwhelming. Another important thing to remember is to treat each job like a “real job”. While it may just be a stepping stone in your life, it’s an important one.

Placing Loved Ones in a Retirement Home

Once your career has taken off and you are successfully managing your personal finance, paying off student debt, and making enough to purchase your own home, a few decades can fly by quickly. At the peak of your financial success, you may find that your aging parents are ready to move into a retirement home. Here are some things to consider before helping your parents take this big step:

  • Can Your Parents Afford to Live in a Retirement Home?: Even if your finances are secure and growing over time, your parents may have little to live on. Personal finances can change for various reasons, but many elderly individuals face issues with pension or Social Security. Before you help your parents make a decision, take a look at their finances.
  • Consider Your Options: If your aging loved ones are able to get around in their home, maybe they could benefit from a live-in caregiver or one who stops over on a daily basis. This may be a cheaper and temporary alternative, but may buy you some more time as you research the best retirement home.
  • Will You Have to Chip In? If your mother or father would benefit from living in a retirement or nursing home, will you need to chip in and pay for the difference not covered by Medicaid? Do your research and talk with homes. If your parents have a limited income or health issues, they may be eligible for assistance. Look at all your resources and talk with a financial planner if you’re running into financial hurdles.