Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

50 Awesome Life Tips for New College Grads

graduation_000‘Tis the season a new batch of college grads join us here in the real world. It can be a scary place for anyone, but especially for a brand new graduate who has been nestled in the relative safety and comfort of college life. I asked readers to share their favorite life tips for new college grads to help them navigate the terrain of life post-college, and their advice is seriously awesome (no surprise there). Keep reading for 50 awesome life tips from DW readers as well as yours truly and share, share, share with anyone you think could use them!!


1. “If you can’t find a decent job right away, do SOMETHING to get out of the house. Work at Starbucks (like I did) till something comes along. After the extreme social nature of college it’s a wakeup call to be stuck back in your childhood bedroom with not much to do.” [Elizabeth]

2. Before you move in with a significant other, make sure you do these 15 things.

3. “Use birth control if you aren’t actively trying to get pregnant.” [honeybeenicki]

4. As a recent college grad, you may be hired not for what you studied in school but for your computer skills and social media expertise (so play those skills up in cover letters and in interviews).

5. Before you sign a lease with someone, make sure you know the answers to these 15 questions.

6. TRAVEL! It’s easier and often cheaper when you’re young (while you’re still used to and satisfied with staying in hole-in-the-wall hostels and eating street meat for dinner).

7. Avoid garlic on a first date.

8. “You don’t need to love your job or have your ‘dream job.’ If you never find your work passion, you can still have a deeply fulfilling life – mine is filled with family, friends, books, hiking. Work is often a means to an end, and that’s okay.” [LANY]

9. Don’t commit “premature relationship status change” on Facebook.

10. “Be responsible about your healthcare. Go to the dentist, get your eyes checked, schedule a skin check at the dermatologist. If you have Humana or another major health insurance plan, look at the ‘freebie’ reward programs they have. Humana has one called HumanaVitality and it rewards you with points for all the ‘healthy’ stuff you do AND IT’S FREE! Last year, I had enough points for a new Canon camera. This year, I’ll cash in all my points for either an Amazon card or save up for new golf clubs.” [MaterialsGirl]

11. People are flawed. People disappoint those they care about. People make mistakes. If you want a happy, successful relationship, you need to work towards more compassionate acceptance of those mistakes and flaws. You need to learn to forgive and move on.

12. “Everyone can use a little extra money, so sign up for paid market research and working promotions. I made extra cash one summer by working promos for naked juice company. AND I GOT TONS OF FREE JUICE!” Check the “etc” category on Craiglist to find similar gigs. [MaterialsGirl]

13. Avoid trash-talking exes on a first date (or talking about them at all, really).

14. “Don’t go to grad school unless you know exactly what you want to do and absolutely need the advanced degree to get the job/career you are sure you want. Don’t put yourself in outrageous grad school debt if you aren’t fairly certain the career path you’ve chosen is stable and profitable… and that you really want to go into it and you’ve got a great chance at doing well.” [Everyone]

15. “Don’t buy things that need to be dry cleaned or ironed if you can at all avoid it. Dry cleaning eats your paycheck, ironing eats your time (and your paycheck if you keep buying new stuff because you have no time to iron).” [Elizabeth]

16. “Lots of people graduate with loans, and the best advice I have is to live far below your means so that paying off those loans and getting adjusted to real life isn’t so hard.” [mylaray]

17. “Put away 5-10% of your paycheck, even when it hurts.” [Amanda]

18. “I know retirement seems like it’s forever from now, but contribute to your 401K as soon as you can – max it out if possible. Max out your Roth IRA every year. If you make too much to contribute to your Roth IRA, use the loophole that allows you to contribute $5K to a traditional IRA, and then convert (google it). That loophole will likely be closed by Congress in a couple years, so do it while you can.” [LANY]

19. d2 explains: “Employers in the USA often offer 401K retirement plans. You can contribute a portion of your pay pre-tax, which means that your current taxable income is lowered (although you pay the tax when you withdraw later in life). Typically, you have a selection of mutual funds from which to choose to invest your retirement contributions. You own the portfolio and control all investment options. Many employers offer a contribution match-up to a limited percentage to encourage employees to contribute. For example, if you contribute nothing, they contribute nothing. If you contribute 2 percent, they contribute 2 percent. If you contribute 3 percent, they contribute 3 percent. They stop at 3 percent; so even if you contribute 10 percent, they still only contribute 3 percent. It’s always best to contribute at least the minimum, so you get the maximum employer match (hence, the reference to the “free” money).”

20. “Get a low-limit credit card that you pay off monthly to help build your credit score (it’s also great in case of an emergency).” [honeybeenicki]

21. “Pack your damn lunch. It’s healthier and cheaper.” [MaterialsGirl]

22. FWB relationships can only work as long as both parties are on the same page. As soon as one person wants more — or much less — from the relationship than the other, things are doomed.

23. “Call your parents often. Tell them you love them. Ask them questions about their choices, their favorite memories. Get to know them as an adult. They won’t be around forever.” [LANY]

24. When you go out drinking, line your stomach with bread, drink one glass of water for every glass of alcohol, and don’t drink more than three glasses of red wine or you will curse yourself the next morning.

25. To start a conversation with people at a social event, ask them questions like where they grew up, how they met their significant other, what their weekend plans are, or how they know the host (don’t start a conversation with “What do you do?” which is boring and can be a sensitive topic in this shaky economy).

26. “Regarding social media and blogs, don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your boss, the boss at your dream job, your grandmother, and your future mother-in-law to see. That stuff is not as private as you think it is, and anything scandalous has a way of getting passed around to the people you least want to see it. In that vein, don’t gossip about work stuff at work. It gets around, and it will bite you in the ass. If you must vent or say something catty, tell your dog about it.” [Turtledove]

27. Learn to cook!! [Everyone]

28. “I second everyone who says “learn to cook.” I feel like it’s the easiest way toward savings and paying off your existing debts. Because seriously:

A. You learn to cook
B. You cook on a regular basis
C. You pack your lunch
D. Now you’re saving money on restaurant and packaged food, plus you’re eating more healthy things. [Miel]

29. If you’ve only been dating someone for six months and there’s been an unresolved issue that has relentlessly bothered you the whole time, MOA.

30. “Get more hobbies and engage in several changing activities if you can. Money came easy for me. The weirdest and hardest thing about being out of school for me is that I know my days are going to look the exact same the whole year. It’s depressing as hell, and it’s hard to cope with. Do something to bring some change in your life. I’m trying yoga for the first time soon, and I’m trying to make things more interesting in the kitchen. Mix it up, but not at the expense of your wallet. Use groupons, coupons, etc.” [theattack]

31. “Sign up for adult intermurals! They’re awesome and will keep you active (read: stop you from gaining weight as your metabolism goes to shit), and help you make new friends since a bunch of yours from college will scatter.” [iwannatalktosampson]

32. To dry out a wet cell phone, turn it off and let it sit in a bowl or bag of rice overnight.

33. “There’s no shame in living with your folks for a little while if that option is available to you. It’s a great way to save! But, eventually you do need to figure out how to live your life on what you make.” [Copa]

34. Shannon adds: “Before you move back home, have a real conversation with your parents about everyone’s expectations for the situation – money, how long you plan to stay, “house rules”, etc – so nobody is surprised or resentful when conflicts arise. And they will. Also, don’t take the first shitty roommate situation you can find just to get out of your parents’ house – it’ll suck more if you don’t have a plan and end up having to go back home again.”

35. “Work on your interview skills! Seriously, recent grads really aren’t qualified for much, but a good interview can give you a leg up on the competition.” [Grilledcheesecalliope]

36. Always write a thank you note to the people who interviewed you for a job, even if it’s a job you don’t necessarily think you want. A. It may be your only option; B. The interviewer may be in a position one day to help you get a job you DO want; C. It’s just a good thing to do.

37. “Networking is awesome because, even if nothing comes out of it right away, you still get to get out and meet a lot of new people and potentially get free food and drinks!” [Caroline]

38. Before you get married, absolutely discuss these 15 issues — they are a MUST for any couple!

39. “People will frustrate you. Your boss will suck, your co-workers will be annoying, the guy who can barely spell his own name will be promoted over you. These things will happen and it’s not always a reflection on you. Learn to relax and roll with this stuff because life is long and awful otherwise.” [Turtledove]

40. To dump someone gracefully, do it in person, if possible; get to the point quickly, choose a time when the other person isn’t expected somewhere any time soon (like work…or a wedding); give a reasonable explanation; answer whatever questions he or she may ask.

41. To find someone’s bridal/wedding/baby shower registry online, go to WeddingChannel.com and type in honoree’s name. You’ll find registries for a variety of stores. Do a “find a registry” search on Amazon, too. Always bring gifts to events you’re going to attend, unless you’re broke and already spending a lot on travel, in which case, at least send a nice, hand-written card. If you can’t attend an event of a close friend or family member, it’s a nice gesture to still send a small gift and your regrets. Check out Dear Wendy’s gift guides for great suggestions on a variety of special occasions.

42. If it takes a potential date more than three days to return an email, text, or phone call, MOA. Someone who is truly interested will move fast so as not to lose a chance with you.

43. When you ask someone out on a date, don’t use ambiguous language like “hang out.” Have a specific activity and/or place in mind, even if it’s just coffee.

44. If you want to maintain college friendships, you need to work at it, especially if you’ve scattered across the country or globe. Schedule a phone date a couple times a month with your best girl friend, share interesting articles or funny websites via Facebook and e-mail, keep that Gchat window open while you’re at work to have some back-and-forth banter. At the same time, work on making new friends. Invite that girl in the cubicle next to you who seems pretty cool out for a drink. Join a Meetup group. Take a class in something you’ve been interested in and then ask the other people in the class to grab a coffee afterward. Call up that girl you knew from high school you weren’t super close with but you know lives around the corner from you and invite her for a burger. Friendships are different after college, but in many ways they can be more meaningful and based on a true common interest rather than convenience.[vizslalvr]

45. If you don’t want to piss off friends and family and former classmates you sort of keep up with through social media — and you don’t — always, always return an RSVP promptly, even if your response is, “No thanks.”

46. “home ownership is not the be-all / end-all. It’s not always the right choice for your circumstances, and it’s not for everyone. It doesn’t make sense to buy a home if: you’re not buying in a neighborhood that will appreciate in value; you don’t have 20% to put down so you have enough equity to refinance and such; you’re not going to be able to stay put for several years; you don’t have a solid savings fund for maintenance, repairs, and costs you don’t anticipate; you don’t have the time or desire to do regular maintenance and upkeep, etc. And renting is not “throwing money away.” There’s value in living in a great place in a great location, with flexibility to relocate if you need to. [Kate]

47. Online dating is a wonderful way to meet people you may not otherwise be exposed to. Here are 15 tips to make your online dating experience more successful.

48. If you can’t afford to be a bridesmaid in your friend’s wedding, graciously say no from the get-go; don’t wait until a few weeks before the big day to back out.

49. If someone has to change — even if it’s just one little thing — in order to be right for you, he’s not right for you.

50. If he won’t share his address with you, MOA.

82 comments… add one
  • Taylor May 23, 2013, 1:44 pm

    I’m well past graduation (15 years, how does that happen?), and there’s still a lot of pertinent advice in here. Good luck to you new grads! The one thing I’d add, do things that scare you occasionally. It’s good for you.

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    • iwannatalktosampson May 23, 2013, 2:03 pm

      That’s what I was thinking – this is just a good list for life in general. Although especially important for new grads since they don’t have a lot of real life experience. And I completely agree with doing things that scare you. If you’re not occasionally scared you’re probably doing life wrong. With great risk comes great opportunity for awesomeness. (or however that saying goes)

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      • Taylor May 23, 2013, 3:12 pm

        I like how you put it! Plus, the ones that lead to disaster vs. awesomeness, learning experiences!!

  • quixoticbeatnik May 23, 2013, 1:51 pm

    Yay, I made the list! I’m a recent college grad sui this all applies to me and it’s all good advice!

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    • quixoticbeatnik May 23, 2013, 1:53 pm

      *so I tried to modify it but I can’t! My kindle likes to aggravate me with autocorrect!

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  • boredatwork May 23, 2013, 2:44 pm

    Not sure if this was mentioned, maybe I missed it, but ” 51. Don’t get a pet until you can commit to one. They are expensive (vet, food, toys, leashes, bowls, care etc.) and, depending on the pet, require your time/a regular schedule to be happy. Its best to just google adorable kittens/puppies then have one and not be able to pay the vet bills when they are sick.”

    this is a pet peeve of mine I know enough people who bought animals after graduating and now they are either in shelters, sold to other owners or neglected (not up to date on shots/ never outside). I know cats are obv easier to care for then dogs and many people I know own cats and think ‘hey there is a maintenance free pet’ then forget to clean the litter box/feed them good food/ever exercise them or bring them to the vet (if I hear one more person tell me an indoor cat never needs to see a vet I may explode)

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    • katie May 23, 2013, 2:48 pm


      ever since i have started volunteering at a shelter, i have absolutely zero tolerance for people being assholes to pets.

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    • theattack May 23, 2013, 2:54 pm

      This goes double for people still in college. I never met a college student who took care of their pet. It makes me so angry.

      Also, who the heck says indoor cats don’t need to see the vet?! That’s insane!

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      • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 2:56 pm

        A LOT of people don’t bring their indoor cats to vets. Like, almost everyone I know with indoor cats. And the few that do, only do when the cat is clearly sick.

      • theattack May 23, 2013, 3:00 pm

        That’s TERRIBLE! I’d never heard that before. Poor babies!

      • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 3:03 pm

        Well, in their defense, I never go for checkups either. Only when I’m sick. And I’m perfectly fine.

      • theattack May 23, 2013, 3:08 pm

        It’s so different though. When you care for something, you should really do all that you can to take care of it. Most good parents take better care of their kids than themselves, ya know? Vet visits are especially important because animals can’t communicate their needs like humans and don’t know how to get their own help.

      • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 3:09 pm

        Oops, I swear I put a winky face at the end.

        I agree, and good point about parents taking better care of their kids than they do for themselves. True for me.

      • boredatwork May 23, 2013, 3:09 pm

        Its not that I think your pets need to be at the vet all the time, but your pet like a person should go for a once annual checkup. I mean my vet basically gives my dog an entire run down every time we go. He feels all over his body for abnormal lumps talks to us about his pet food and treats, about weight issues and things to watch for as he ages. Its not like they can turn to you and say “hey I have this really weird growth under my armpit lets go to the dr.”, or “man this bacon cheeseburger diet isn’t working and making me fat, lets cut down on carbs and up protein”. Vets can be a spokesperson for a pet, another set of eyes making sure they are properly cared for.

      • honeybeenicki May 23, 2013, 3:25 pm

        Wait, wait, wait… all else aside, I don’t see how a bacon cheeseburger diet could EVER be bad for anyone 😉 I’ve been doing just fine on mine!

      • AliceInDairyland May 23, 2013, 4:36 pm

        I like you. 🙂

      • Astronomer May 23, 2013, 6:33 pm

        I’d like to believe I’m the exception, though doesn’t everyone? Me and my three cats made it through undergrad and grad school together, and they’re all still with me and very happy. I’ve had them for 13, 12, and 9 years respectively. I know exactly what you mean, though. The responsibility can feel a little overwhelming, especially when you’ve got so many other things going on. I used to coordinate a rescue/foster network for dumped cats when I was in school. Ugh, college towns. I could not believe how many idiot kids MY AGE(!) thought it was okay to put your cat in a patch of woods or an alley when they didn’t feel like having a pet anymore or they moved. I may also have my mother to blame for being a very young cat lady in training, haha.

    • kerrycontrary May 23, 2013, 3:00 pm

      Yes!! Great advice. I got a pet in grad school and it is HARD. I love my doggie, but man it is a lot of work. I have to go home after work every day. So that means no happy hours (ever), and any weekend trips have to be planned far in advance (so no last minute trip to visit your college roommate). Your living situation is often limited due to pet restrictions, especially if you can’t afford to live on your own and need a roommate that is Ok with pets. I don’t regret having her because it forces me to go on a walk every night and I generally enjoy having a dog around (and affording her isn’t an issue). But having a dog is like having a toddler who doesn’t grow up. I would say pets are great for some people, but you have to be really honest with yourself about your schedule and lifestyle because its not for everyone.

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      • boredatwork May 23, 2013, 3:05 pm

        Kerrycontrary you summed up my entire life. Hahaha my bf and I own a dog and we are both working full time with good jobs so affording him isn’t ever a problem. But it can be hard to go places overnight where he’s not allowed, or go on a long day trip if we can’t bring him along (he is also 70 pounds so it is even more restrictive). I think a lot of people just get pets bc they are lonely and then end up with this intelligent, loving, caring, needy, emotional creature in their house who they didn’t plan on dealing with.

      • Taylor May 23, 2013, 3:14 pm

        That last sentence applies to a lot of post-college human relationships too =)

      • iwannatalktosampson May 23, 2013, 3:18 pm

        I completely agree. I got Sampson in law school and I absolutely adore the shit out of him, but to say he’s high maintenance is an understatement. I don’t do anything after work during the week because I have to hang out with him. Even if I want to go to yoga or grab a quick drink or dinner I make sure I schedule it on a day I’m planning to take him to day care, that way he’ll be super tired and also he’s already had human and animal stimulation all day. I don’t go on quick little weekend trips, and I literally have to plan every decision around him. On the weekends if I want to go out at night – even to a 4 hour baseball game – I have to make sure I have time to take him on a reeeeeeallly long walk that day – like longer than usual. I think there’s just so much that people don’t realize goes into caring for a dog.

      • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 3:22 pm

        This might be the first time I’ve ever heard about a dog actually sounding like a kid.

      • katie May 23, 2013, 3:26 pm

        really? dogs are so much work!

        thats why i dont have one- its the equivalent of having a toddler in many ways.

      • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 3:36 pm

        I mean those people (no offense guys!) who say having a dog is *just like* having a kid. Its really not, in my opinion. But the whole never being able to go out after work was one similarity.

      • iwannatalktosampson May 23, 2013, 3:42 pm

        Yeah I mean I won’t take it that far, because if I do have to leave I can just put him in a kennel, but there are a lot of similarities when it comes to their dependence on you. It’s that same grounding principle. Like I can’t just pack him up and take him to a restaurant, and with a kid you can do that but it’s a pain when they’re young with the diaper bag and their mood and blah blah blah. This is one of the reasons I don’t think I could ever live alone (besides the fact that I need people around) – it’s so nice to be able to have even one night a week where I can run an errand after work and don’t have to rush home to let him out to pee.

      • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 3:46 pm

        There’s another similarity! Whenever I have somewhere fun to go, I stick lil_be_honest in a kennel too. 😉

        I was scared to even make that comment because I know a lot of pet owners believe their pets are exactly like kids…was waiting for backlash.

      • iwannatalktosampson May 23, 2013, 3:54 pm

        Plus I’m guessing you don’t have to let her out to go pee, she probably just uses the toilet herself 😉

      • rachel May 23, 2013, 4:02 pm

        And I bet you don’t have to stand outside in the rain waiting for lil_be_honest to poop.

      • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 4:03 pm

        This is taking a really funny turn!

      • sobriquet May 23, 2013, 4:38 pm

        Yeah, my roommates once went out of town for a weekend without telling us, leaving their very needy dog in our care. I was pissed. I would never go out of town without making sure my cat had a clean litter box and an abundant supply of food and water, yet they left their dog for 3 days without telling us first. Ugh. We ended up dropping him off at a kennel for the weekend.

        They also used to go out directly after work and not get home until 10 or 11- again, without telling us. The last time it happened, I asked if they could please shoot us a text if they were going to be home late so that we would know to take the dog out. Their response? “Well, we never know if we’re going out until the last minute.” Um, so text me at the last minute then? Gawd. Just an example of a mid-twenties couple who are definitely not responsible enough to own a dog.

      • kerrycontrary May 23, 2013, 3:59 pm

        I think my dog is not *just* like a kid because kids can’t be left alone when they are little, obviously, and you can leave a dog home alone. But children grow up and start to take care of themselves, whereas a dog doesn’t. Luckily summer is small and easy in the car so she gets dragged on weekend trips all the time, as long as people are accepting of having her at their house. And my mom watches her when I’m away on longer vacations. But much of my schedule does revolve around her (like I’ve never gone to a baseball game after work during the weekday).

      • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 4:02 pm

        I wish these comments could be posted at the shelter/pet shop. People never think of the fact you can’t just willy nilly go anywhere once you have a dog (or, at least you have a plan a bit, call the kennel or whatever).

      • CatsMeow May 23, 2013, 3:26 pm

        Wow. I love dogs, but this is exactly why I don’t have one yet.

      • Fabelle May 23, 2013, 3:47 pm

        Yeah. I really, REALLY miss having a dog, but damn. Cats are so easy.

      • Astronomer May 23, 2013, 6:41 pm

        Oh, man. I totally agree. I can just imagine how ridiculous I’d be if I had dogs. I could see myself discussing poop schedules and consistencies with other dog owners, like no big deal. I’m absolutely sure the crazy cat lady instincts would get totally out of hand applied to dogs.

    • bethany May 23, 2013, 3:22 pm

      Totally agree!
      And if I could add onto that- If you miss having a pet, but don’t want to commit long term, FOSTER! Most shelters only require you to pay for food/supplies (vet care is provided by the shelter/rescue/whoever).

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  • Fabelle May 23, 2013, 2:53 pm

    But garlic is awesome 🙁

    (but yes, I love this list! Definitely could’ve used it right upon graduating, but it’s a great list of tips for life in general as well)

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    • gatecrashergirl May 23, 2013, 2:58 pm

      It both people eat garlic, it tends to work out okay 😉

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    • katie May 23, 2013, 3:00 pm

      one of our chocolate suppliers took us out to dinner this weekend, and one of the appetizers was roasted garlic, and it was AMAZING but i tried not to eat a lot of it.

      why, oh why, would they give an amazing garlic app to a table of business people? why??

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      • Taylor May 23, 2013, 3:16 pm

        You have a chocolate supplier? What kind of magical job do you have? That’s way cooler than having a chemical supplier.

      • honeybeenicki May 23, 2013, 3:27 pm

        I think I need to get a chocolate supplier.

      • katie May 23, 2013, 3:28 pm

        haha, i work with food. desserts, specifically. im on the team that creates new items to be made on a large scale in manufacturing plants.

        really, its no different then having a chemical supplier.

      • Taylor May 23, 2013, 3:48 pm

        Nice! It’s still a little cooler than having a chemical supplier =)

    • Taylor May 23, 2013, 3:15 pm

      I love garlic. I will never get attacked by a vampire. Or get scurvy for that matter, I love lime juice. And now I’m hungry.

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    • othy May 23, 2013, 4:43 pm

      I’m heading to San Francisco next weekend, and we’re going to a place called the Stinking Rose – all garlic everything. Might have to make sure I get some before Mr. Othy and I head out to eat 😉

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  • sobriquet May 23, 2013, 2:17 pm

    Watch this video:

    Take the advice to heart. You can use it every day of your life!

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    • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 2:19 pm

      Do you remember that video/ “song” that was big a few years ago. It was a man with a deep voice sorta reading out loud…anyone?

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      • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 2:23 pm


        Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free

      • BriarRose May 23, 2013, 2:39 pm

        Sadly that was more than a few years ago, LBH.

      • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 2:42 pm

        Funny you say that. I almost changed the word “few” to “several” but decided I would just continue to believe whatever I want to believe. Yikes, 1999. Sure, that was just a couple years ago, right?

      • othy May 23, 2013, 2:54 pm

        Yep, 1999 was just a couple of years back. *gulp*

      • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 2:55 pm

        Thank you, othy! I’m glad we agree.

      • Fabelle May 23, 2013, 3:48 pm

        If it makes you all feel better, I tried to say the other day that 1993 was “over ten years ago” before I realized, oh shit, if by “over ten years” I mean fucking TWENTY years…then, yes.

      • BriarRose May 23, 2013, 3:45 pm

        I think it was 1997, actually. I graduated in ’98 and it came out while I was still in high school.

      • BriarRose May 23, 2013, 3:46 pm

        Or maybe not! Now I’m so old that I’m getting things all mixed up. Like I can’t even remember to only put one space after punctuation marks. Sad.

      • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 3:47 pm


      • bethany May 23, 2013, 3:19 pm

        My thoughts exactly… That came out the year I graduated high school….1999

    • sia May 23, 2013, 3:17 pm

      That was awesome.

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  • Amanda May 23, 2013, 3:23 pm

    I would add that it’s necessary to pay off your credit card in full every month. In general, you need to use 10% or less of your available credit otherwise your credit score can be adversely affected.

    Wendy, if someone creates an Amazon gift registry through your link, will you get credit for the purchases even if the buyers don’t use the link?

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    • nico_lasa May 23, 2013, 3:28 pm

      Just to clarify, you may use up to 30% of your credit before your score is adversely affected. To really optimize your credit score, it is good to use between 1% to 30% of your credit (try not to go above), and pay it off every month. If you have a credit card, and carry a zero balance (never use it), that also is beneficial- but not as good as the first scenario.

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      • Amanda May 23, 2013, 4:39 pm

        Cool, good to know. I heard up to 10%, but 30% is better!

    • honeybeenicki May 23, 2013, 3:28 pm

      I advise to pay it off because I know that sometimes people will go a little crazy and then will keep spending without paying down what they should. But you’re right, it’s generally about the percentage of your credit that you’re using.

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    • kerrycontrary May 23, 2013, 3:55 pm

      I have a question. So if I have like 500 on my credit card, but I only pay off 200 and then 300 is still remaining on the card for the next month (but my limit is hypothetically 5000), does that negatively affect my score?

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      • othy May 23, 2013, 4:45 pm

        You’ll pay interest, but as long as you make the minimum payment, and keep the percentage down (300 should be fine), it shouldn’t hurt your score.

      • kerrycontrary May 23, 2013, 4:50 pm

        Thanks! I always pay wayyyy more than the minimum (like if the minimum is 25 I pay over $100. Last time I checked my credit score it was really good, but that may be because I also pay massive student loans every month.

      • Amanda May 23, 2013, 4:53 pm

        Ditto, you should be fine!

    • mylaray May 23, 2013, 4:13 pm

      I thought it can be bad to pay it off in full every month, especially if you’re trying to build good credit? I’ve often heard it’s good to let a little bit carry over.

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      • Amanda May 23, 2013, 4:37 pm

        Nope. It’s best to pay it off in full every month, mainly so that you don’t pay any interest on your accrued debt. EquiFax, TransUnion and the third credit score company can’t ding your score for paying in full every month.

      • mylaray May 23, 2013, 5:16 pm

        Oh okay. I pay it off in full every month since I don’t want to be paying interest anyways, so I was hoping it wasn’t bad.

    • Wendy May 23, 2013, 3:25 pm

      I don’t think it works that way, unfortunately. Purchases have to be made directly through the link on DW in order for me to get a commission, but thanks for thinking of me!

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    • Amanda May 23, 2013, 4:49 pm

      Oh, I forgot that your credit score can go down if you open and close credit accounts very quickly. If you have a credit card, keep it for at least a year before closing it. Also, when you apply for a mortgage or any major loan, try to apply to banks within a span of a few months because multiple credit inquiries over a long period of time can ding your score, at least for a little while. I’m not certain exactly how that works, just what I read (I take my credit score very seriously).

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    • othy May 23, 2013, 4:49 pm

      When I was trying to build my credit, I didn’t qualify for any credit cards, because I’d never had credit (oh, the joys!). I ended up getting a secured card for $500 (you put the $500 up front as collateral, and have a $500 credit limit). We started putting our Netflix (about $15/month) and nothing else on the card. Everything else was cash/debit. We paid it off in full every month. Because the usage to availability ratio was so good, my credit score skyrocketed. It only took me 6 months to build a 750 credit score.

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  • Anna May 23, 2013, 3:48 pm

    I’m going to add “believe in yourself and have confidence in your decisions.” It goes for basically everything on this list…relationships, marriages, pet adoption, dream vacations, and choosing a job. There will always be someone telling you that you’re crazy for making your dreams come true and if you had half a brain you would take the boring safe route. When it comes down to it, nobody knows you and what you are capable of better than you. And it’s the best feeling in the world when you make a big personal goal and succeed.

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  • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 3:59 pm

    ha! I was so confused for a second.

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    • lets_be_honest May 23, 2013, 3:59 pm

      That was for fab.

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      • Fabelle May 23, 2013, 4:13 pm

        I think Wendy edited it. Thank you, Wendy! I ruined my whole story with that mistake, haha

  • mylaray May 23, 2013, 4:21 pm

    This is a really great list! And definitely something I can still use. The other thing I would add is to practice due diligence. Whether that is getting a second opinion from a doctor, researching enough background info for a job interview, or buying a home, I think with the all the information out there on the Internet these days, it’s easy to believe the first thing we see/read. Reminds me of that commercial where someone says how everything you see on the Internet is true.

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  • lamia aster May 23, 2013, 6:22 pm

    Look into life insurance. I know people don’t tend to think of that often, but there’s so many reasons to get it when you’re young.

    1) There are some policies that gain cash value that you can use to buy a house, pay for a child’s college education, anything. Be sure to check with your agent all the guides to cashing out and any restrictions.

    2) The younger you are, the cheaper it is. If you keep a permanent life insurance in force (and don’t add any benefit amount) it will remain the same price for good. $30 a month for life insurance when you’re 40? Amazing deal.

    3) You never know when you may get sick and can no longer qualify. Some companies can offer insurance even if you’re not in the best health, but these are often more restricting.

    4) Your funeral. Not the most cheery subject, but funerals can cost thousands. There’s also the coffin, burial, services, headstone… It will also pay off any debts you might have.

    5) If you’re married, it can keep your spouse afloat until they can survive on your own. It can ensure that your child can be supported and go to college themselves.

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    • kerrycontrary May 23, 2013, 7:31 pm

      Such a good point! I wish we had thought of this. My parents got me life insurance when I was born (as morbid as it is, child funerals still cost money). It was like $10/month but I was able to cash it out when I started my current job (and I have life insurance now through my job)

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      • lamia aster May 23, 2013, 10:24 pm

        Oh it is a morbid thought to get it for kids, but needed none the less. I have seen so many families have to do car washes or bake sales to bury a baby. Its a horrible thought and you never want it to happen, but sadly kids do have fatal accidents, get cancer, get murdered. 🙁

        I always say it’s better to have and not need than need and not have.

    • Amanda May 25, 2013, 2:59 pm

      Thanks for the advice! I’m going to look into life insurance for me and my husband on Tuesday.

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  • PumpkinLatte May 24, 2013, 6:59 pm

    To tack on to #16 – if you have Direct loans and work full time at a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit or a government organization, you can qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (not just for teachers!!). Your loans have to be “William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans”, but you can consolidate your government loans into a Direct loan to qualify. After 120 payments (10 years), you can qualify for getting the rest of your loan balance forgiven. This program really saved me a ton of freaking out, as I have both undergrad and grad school loans. Here’s a link:

    Also, look into Income-Based Repayment or Income-Contingent Repayment programs for your loans. This will lighten the burden of loan repayment as you are starting out. Here’s another link: and http://www.ibrinfo.org/

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