Admission & Financial Aid

Navigating Life After College

You’ve finished your classes, and that hard-earned diploma now hangs proudly on your wall. Congratulations! Now, are you ready for what comes next?  Life after college can be whatever you make of it…so here are some tips to help make your money work for you.

Growing Your Money: Investment Basics

There are many ways you can safeguard and grow your savings. It’s important to know the pros and cons of each type of account. Meeting with an investment banker at your bank or credit union may provide additional guidance. Here is a basic list of general savings and investment options:

Savings Account

  • Account maintained at a financial institution (generally a bank or credit union) which accrues interest but usually can’t be accessed for direct-payment such as a check

  • The number and method of allowable transactions, minimum balance, and interest rate earned are determined by the financial institution.

Checking Account

  • A deposit account maintained at a financial institution, generally for the purpose of direct, on-demand access to funds

  • Usually there is no limit on the number of transactions allowed per month, provided there are sufficient funds to cover each transaction.

  • Some accounts of this type may be interest-bearing; rates and availability vary by institution.

Money Market Account

  • A deposit account which pays interest based on investment in  the money markets

  • Often has a higher interest rate, but also may require a higher minimum balance than a savings account

  • Transactions may be limited on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Stocks

  • Investments that are basic units of ownership in a publically traded company, and may be bought or sold by the investor

  • Profits from the company are paid to stockholders as dividends

  • Value can rise and fall with fluctuations in specific markets and the economy in general

Bonds

  • Investment that is a debt security, where the issuer (such as the government) is obliged to pay interest over a fixed time frame 

  • When the bond reaches maturity (the end of that fixed time frame), principal + interest is paid to the investor

Certificates of Deposit

  • A special type of deposit account, where you invest a fixed sum of money for a fixed time interval and receive interest payments at regular intervals

  • Generally a lower-risk investment than stocks, but there are penalties for withdrawing funds before the end of the fixed time interval

  • This type of investment is federally insured. Review this FDIC site for some very good tips.

Salaries and Careers

Your career path has great impact on your salary and other benefits. Remember that you have the support and assistance of Career Services at Concordia to help you. 

Another helpful resource is the Occupational Outlook Handbook which is published each year by the federal government. Professional associations and publications often have listings of job opportunities and/or salary statistics that relate to a certain field.

Where you choose to live may also impact your salary. The cost of living varies greatly by geographic region, and especially from rural to urban or suburban areas. There are some helpful websites which can compare costs and salaries between cities, such as Moving.com

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace, can have pros and cons when it comes to your employment. You can use your connections to get the word out about your job search, or find openings through friends and colleagues. However, remember that anything posted about you—whether on your own page, or by your friends—could be viewed by your current OR potential employer! It pays to be smart about your usage of these sites.

Understanding Employer Benefits

In addition to a salary, your employer may offer a variety of benefits to make up your total compensation package. Make sure you compare the total compensation when you are deciding between job offers.

Retirement Plans

  • A 401(K) plan enables the employee to contribute pre-tax earnings, up to a specified dollar amount each year. The employer may match funding up to a certain percentage or dollar amount. For-profit businesses or corporations tend to offer this type of plan.

  • A 403(b) plan is similar, but usually offered by non-profit organizations. Usually these plans allow for a larger annual contribution and earnings grow tax-deferred.

  • With either option, it’s best to maximize the amount you contribute to get the “match” from your employer. Saving for retirement as early as possible gives you the advantage of a long-term investment.

Health Insurance

  • Employer-provided group insurance has quite a varied range of costs and benefits. Remember, if you are no longer a full-time student, you are likely ineligible to be covered by your parents’ health insurance.

  • You may have to choose between a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) or Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Make sure you understand the difference.

  • Employees generally establish their coverage preferences when they first begin working, or as soon as they are eligible if there is a waiting period before benefits apply. After that, employers have an “open enrollment” period where you can make changes to your benefit choices for the upcoming calendar or fiscal year.

Other Benefits

  • Your employer may offer many other benefits, such as: reduced charges for gym memberships, discounts for phone service, access to athletic/cultural event tickets, child care assistance, or tuition assistance for continued education.

  • Be informed and utilize these resources. They exist to help your employer retain happy employees!