Ahhh, graduation. The culmination of years of effort and likely your sole target since you were waist high. Now you get to jump feet first into the life of adulthood.
Believe it or not, skate shoes and jeans aren’t appropriate work wear, in most places. Plus, you likely have to get out there and get a job, unless you have managed to secure one already. Here are 7 things you should buy when you graduate university, in no particular order.
7. A Nice Jacket
Jackets are tricky, because they are so expensive. However, you are going to need a nice jacket to wear to interviews, at a minimum. If you work in an office which requires business attire, you are going to need season-appropriate outerwear all year long. You will need a minimum of a lightweight spring and summer jacket, a winter wool jacket or overcoat and a rain jacket. Purchase the one that makes the most sense for the next few months first, and plan to set aside the funds to ensure you aren’t under or overdressed when the weather changes!
6. One Week’s Worth of Office Clothes
As a student, I spent a lot of time in sweatpants. As a young professional, my wonderfully comfortable sweatpant collection does not see terribly much use, relegated to the rare evening or weekend day. Over time, I have built up my office-worthy clothing collection. I am also lucky enough to work in an environment where jeans are perfectly acceptable.
Start your office-wear collection by aiming for a full week’s worth of office clothes, which are primarily new (or new to you, thrift and consignment shops are a fantastic way to acquire the basics). With a few staples, you should be able to mix and match your student wardrobe in and keep yourself dressed appropriately. Do not let your desire to have all of the latest and greatest put a drain on your finances. Save Spend Splurge has tips on creating a wardrobe for new graduates both for men and for women.
If you buy a whole new wardrobe today, you will be tired of it or risk feeling dated after a year. Add to your collection slowly, picking things up on sale and over time. The longer you spend in an office environment, the more you will know if you need warmer summer shirts because the A/C is always cranked, or if the grime of the subway is too gross when it comes to light coloured clothes.
5. Contents/Renter’s Insurance
Going from being a student to being an adult, you need to make sure that you have insurance. Tsk tsk if you weren’t covered by any insurance while you were in school. For some, like me, my contents were covered under my parent’s insurance, but when I was no longer a student and lived on my own, I needed to get my own insurance.
Despite trying to avoid lifestyle inflation, after you graduate and start working, the value of your possessions is likely to increase, as you pick up a few things that you couldn’t afford as a student. Perhaps it will be a new commuter bicycle, some hobby related stuff, a fancy gaming computer, or a new flatscreen TV. Over time, you will have more and more things which will require insurance. As a renter, you want to make sure you are covered, should anything happen. Get insurance now, and each year when it is up for renewal you can re-evaluate your coverage situation.
4. A Haircut
As you start a new job, venture forth on interviews and leave the awesome cocoon that is university, look polished, professional and give yourself a little boost of self-confidence by getting your hair cut.
3. A Travel Coffee Mug
This is a money saver and a convenience factor. You probably already have a travel coffee mug, but make sure you have one that is in decent shape and perhaps not covered with stickers. If you are the kind of person who needs a healthy dose of caffeine in the morning to be up and at’em, make sure you’ve had that first cup prior to arriving at work. Set your coffee maker to start when you wake up, so you can have some java to go, while keeping your budget in line.
2. Briefcase or Large Handbag
You want something professional, which is easy for you to carry day in and day out. It needs to be big enough to fit your lunch, because you’re going to be brown bagging your lunch each day, of course. Take a look for an affordable briefcase or handbag on Amazon.
1. Health Insurance
No matter where you live, chances are once you finish school, you are on your own when it comes to health insurance. Figure out what you need to do, whether that is paying monthly provincial MSP premiums, like in BC, picking up dental coverage, or drug coverage. If you are on any prescription medications, they may have been partially subsidized by your school, by your school’s medical plan or by your parent’s medical plan. The sooner you get your health insurance situation sorted out, the less likely you are to be fully out of pocket for medication and the sooner you can start taking advantage of your new benefits.
Read the fine print, to make sure you don’t have to pay in for six months prior to claiming, or anything like that, then get a plan. If you get a job with benefit coverage quickly, you can cancel your insurance, but many places do not have coverage until you are done your first three months, so the sooner you have your own, the better.
There are a lot more expenses that come up in adult life, but tackling this list of things will get you started standing on both feet. Try to ask for some of them as graduation presents!