The First Years Out
You’ve done it. You’ve landed
that first post-college professional job, and the salary
sounds fantastic. But a glance online at
apartment rents in your new city has
you reeling: $1,500 for a one-bedroom?
First and last month’s rent plus a security deposit and a finder’s fee? You need
furniture and a work wardrobe, and you
were hoping for a new car. You’ve got
student loans and credit card debt —
about $14,000 worth if you’re like most
new UNC graduates — and about 30
percent of your new salary will go for
taxes. That leaves ... not so much. What’s
a working slob to do?
Budget. The word may make you
wince, but there’s no way around it.
Getting a handle on how much you
have coming in and going out each
month is the only way to be sure you’ll
stay fed, sheltered and safe from collec-
tion agents, even if you’re not starting out
Budgeting might be a necessary evil, but young alumni
in a new city. Some people find budget- who are learning to live on their own, on entry-level
ing satisfies their inner-math nerd; others salaries, usually find that it pays off.
look at it as a way to work out their values and priorities; and most just consider
it a necessary evil. However you look at it,
budgeting is an essential skill, and one
many young alumni have mastered.
With careful planning and a
little restraint, young alumni
live well on limited income
Eliza Peebles ’06 learned from her parents to keep a close eye on her finances. “I
always know how much I have at whatever moment,” she says. That’s particularly
important because she lives in Washington, D.C., which she describes as “a very
pricey place.” Peebles chose the city
because she went to boarding school
nearby and loved the area. She moved to
Washington in October after taking an
administrative job in a downtown law
She’s careful with her budget to be
sure she can cover her share of the
Georgetown townhouse she rents with
three other women.
“I really plan it out,” she said. “I shop
a lot for food. Rent I definitely have to
keep an eye on because that’s hefty
Peebles keeps receipts and balances
her checkbook regularly. She doesn’t
have a credit card, she makes do with an
old car and she plans carefully how she’ll
spend her limited entertainment budget.
But she still manages to enjoy herself.
“We gather a lot at people’s houses and
bring our own food and drink.” That’s
cheaper than eating out, which she
indulges in only every few weeks. When
she does go out to eat, she chooses
Much of her entertainment costs nothing. She walks along the Potomac River,
window shops on M Street and visits the
city’s free parks and museums. And, she
says, she and her friends “go to bars with
happy hour specials, places that reach to
our age bracket, where you’re very
Tips or thoughts to share?
Join the discussion online with the GAA’s new “Ask An Expert”
GAA’S MANAGER OF
ALUMNI CAREER SERVICES
When: Aug. 1 to Sept. 1
Who: Linda Conklin, certified career coach and GAA manager
of alumni career services, will answer questions about budgeting
and offer advice on saving, spending and using credit wisely.
What: The GAA has launched an “Ask An Expert” section on
its Web site to help with those questions that weren’t covered in college. Let us know what topics you’d like to quiz an
expert about, and we’ll do the homework.