10 Pieces of Advice College Graduates Are Unaware Of


I was recently asked what my biggest piece advice for recent college grads would be.

While I don’t think of myself as an old geezer giving advice, I gave it a try.

1. Don’t live with mom and dad


Baby bird needs to fly from the nest. Time to grow up.

I know you want to save a few thousands bucks a month, but it’s not worth it.

Even if you have student loans.

You need to experience what your personal economic circumstances are and how you can improve them.

Your future boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife will thank me.

Mature, successful, accomplished individuals don’t live with mommy and daddy.

2. Start a side business with less than $500 start up money

This can be a new hobby.

Think catering Saturday football games, or becoming an Uber driver.

What is something you can do to experience what it’s like to be an entrepreneur rather than an employee?

This will help you empathize more with any entrepreneur clients you have and inspire you to think about business, not just busy work you are assigned in the early days of your career.

Not to mention, you can make a little money!

3. Get on a budget

I’ve shared how we managed to pay off $55,000 of student loans in 14 months.

Get the excel budget here.

That was largely because of doing a written budget every single month.

When you sit down and look at every single transaction, you realize you are killing yourself a 3-4 pointless purchases a day.

$27 at a baseball game

$77 night out with friends

$17 new music that came out

That adds up! That’s over $400/mo and you’re probably doing more than that!

I’m not against enjoying money, I just want you to have a conscious plan about how much you’re going to spend.

Making and reviewing a budget is the best way to do that.

4. Get on a plan to get promoted

Not 3 months before year end. Day 1 of your new job.

Getting promoted is a multi-year effort and is MUCH easier if you do a little bit each month.

Working on 1 extra project not assigned to you per month means 12 after a year!

That looks damn good for year end reviews.

See my recent webinar: How to Guarantee Your Public Accounting Promotion

5. Pay of student loans in 3 years or less

Income – Expenses = Money to be saved or applied to debt

What does your equation say?

Debt / Money to be applied each month = number of months until you get out of debt

Make that number less than 36. Preferably MUCH less.

We cut all non-essential expenses and increased our income by working 3-4 different jobs. But hey, now we’re DEBT FREE!

6. Create a personal brand online

Even if it’s just LinkedIn. Although I would also recommend twitter.

This is at the very least damage control for anyone searching your name on Google and for people like me: LIFE CHANGING.

I have a very different life now. All because I decided to put myself out there, openly, and honestly.

Not to mention I control Google 100%. Look what happens when you Google me?

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 5.07.01 PM

7. Make a plan to find a spouse

Most people meander through there 20’s (and honestly even 30’s) without any real game-plan to find a spouse. If you don’t want to get married, fine.


If you think you want to one day, don’t you think you should have a plan?

I mean, they do play a MASSIVE role in your life.

It’s not always easy to find a great spouse. The dating scene can be tough and you may not live in the best area. All the reasons to start early.

Get involved in your community, play pick-up beach volleyball, hang out at coffee shops.

Tinder and plenty of fish may be fun, but there is an immediate/short-term view on those things.

If you know what I mean.

When you are on your first date, ask real questions. Share your response as well.

  • Do you want to have kids?
  • How much debt do you have?
  • What are your parents like? What is your relationship with them?
  • What religion are you (if any at all)?
  • Can I kiss you? (yes, asking is still a turn on and sign of maturity)

No I wouldn’t pepper these questions at the other person before the appetizers arrive, but I would slowly make your way to them.

Why waste your time with a loser.

8. Never lease a car

Want to stay poor?

Live on a credit card, lease a car, and pay minimums on your student loans.

Remember that old capital one commercial?

That viking guy says: “what’s in your wallet?”


What should be in your wallet: cash.

Simple as that.

No you do not deserve a $25,000 car because you work in the Big 4.

I don’t even own a car currently and my last car was purchased for $6,000 and sold for $3,700.

It honestly sucked, but I shave off $55,000 in debt when I had that car, not bad.

Leasing is just another form of financing (debt) on an asset that is plunging in value.

You want to take out debt? Fine. But don’t be a fool like I was and do it on something where the value will go down. Remember this:

  • The effective interest rates on leases is usually over 15%
  • It’s very hard to get out early without paying thousands of dollars
  • You don’t own the car at the end.

Don’t get ripped off, pay for whatever car you want in cash only.

9. Get the CPA done if you haven’t already

This is the #1 thing I see holding people back from getting promoted.

Not only does their firm require it for promotion, but it is dragging them down.

They work all day and instead of enjoying the freedom of being a working adult, they start studying from 7-11pm.

Then they have to come in the next day and compete with someone who went on a date, or relaxed at home watching Netflix.

It’s not hard to tell who is happier, works harder, and more likely to get promoted.

Get the CPA done as soon as possible!

10. Exercise more, drink (alcohol) less, and eat well

While I’m only 25, I wish I would’ve learned this sooner.

We have the chance to live to be 100 nowadays. Are you going to do it?

Make a conscious effort to be healthier now will save you thousands of dollars and years of your life in the future.

We all know it: Prevention is better than cure.

What did I miss? Any advice you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!

  • http://lifestyleaccountant.com/ Lifestyle Accountant

    Awesome list Andrew! I think you are really spot on with your points.

    I would stress that #2 Start a side business with less than $500 start up money is something that everyone should be doing to diversify their income and not solely rely on a job. As a recent Corporate America dropout, I am slowly building up a side hustle as well as #6 Create a personal brand online (something I wish I had done awhile ago). After nearly a decade in the accounting profession, I’m finally becoming the change I wish to see and starting to address my frustrations with the profession.

    One piece of advice I might add is: “don’t be afraid to break the rules”. To clarify, I’m not saying break the law or do “creative accounting” and wind up in jail. But to use your accounting brain not only at the professional level but in your personal life as well and really question (out loud or just in your head at first) what your managers and society want you to do. Accountants ask a lot of questions by nature so start asking more questions, and if you don’t like the answers, you may need to break the rules to make things better. Start thinking about what you really want out of life and how you want to maximize your lifestyle while being an accountant. There’s a great quote that I love and it goes like this “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”

    Andrew, you are living proof that accountants can achieve much more than a fancy job title and your career path doesn’t have to be linear. Keep on rockin it!

    • http://www.thebeancounter.com TheBeanCountercom

      We had that same quote on a podcast recently and I loved it:

      “Sometimes I would rather have to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.”

      There are so few people doing something different that once you take that leap, you really stand out. There are so many opportunities you just cant’ see until you try.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Link1194

    This is a pretty bad list. Number 1, you assume everyone graduating college has student loans, certainly not true. Number 2, you talk about getting rich and saving up your money, yet you say to move out of your house right away. Why would you take on the extra expenses of food, rent, utilities, and everything else that comes with being on your own? You could be investing that money while living comfortably with people who love you and only want the best for you. Oh and car leasing is wonderful if you’re into cars and enjoy getting a new one every couple of years. You should be doing the cpa in college if you’re getting your masters. This list bothered me a lot.

    • http://www.thebeancounter.com TheBeanCountercom

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate the criticism.

      “Nearly 7 in 10 graduating seniors in 2013 – 69 percent – left school with an average of $28,400 in student loan debt”


      You are correct, not “everyone” has student loans. But those numbers are from 2013 and most people did. It’s only gotten worse from there.

      Living with parents does help you save some short term cash, but I believe it’s more important to stand on your own two feet and learning to save/earn as an independent adult. Experience the economic circumstance you have and bettering them.

      And leasing…. you are right. If you want a new car every few years and don’t mind wasting money paying 15%+ interest, go for it.

  • TruthIsRelative

    Great list…even for the not so new grad!

    • http://www.thebeancounter.com TheBeanCountercom

      Nice! Glad to hear it applies to other ages!

  • Leonard Schwinder

    Great list, Andrew! keep ’em rockin’!

    • http://www.thebeancounter.com TheBeanCountercom

      Thanks Leonard, appreciate the comment!

  • TruthIsRelative

    As a college professor, CPA and entrepreneur, any list that I can agree with 7+ out of 10 is a winner. Yours is closer to 10! One caveat, although the most common answer in my class, even financial accounting, is “It Depends”, so some of the answers are subject to individual circumstances (though never lease a car has a 99% approval rating in my book). Also wish you would include a LinkedIn button in addition to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for easy addition of your posts to our group at Marian University Accounting Student Exchange which ALL my accounting and business students join as part of our curriculum/syllabus.

    • http://www.thebeancounter.com TheBeanCountercom

      I’ll look into that! Appreciate you sharing and for now you can use the page URL. That will usually show up great in a group!

      Appreciate the comment and would love to hear about your entrepreneurial activities as a CPA/professor. Email me anytime: andrew@thebeancounter.com

  • Elijah Williams


    I have a question in regards to having a side business, or what I like to call a “side hustle”. How were you able to work at a Big 4 firm with a side business? Do the hours allow this?

    I was thinking maybe after my public accounting career I could work a corporate job while fulfilling my entrepreneurial side goals. Also, would you recommend doing tax preparation or some type of accounting focused side business?

    • http://www.thebeancounter.com TheBeanCountercom

      It is certainly easier if you are working in private than public accounting as the hours are less intense. However, I wouldn’t let that stop you.

      I think the biggest thing is to start small, don’t have crazy expectations. You are just trying to learn/get your feet wet. The money doesn’t really matter at this point.

      You can start small with a weekend catering business, anything online with a website, lawn business, car-washing business, leaf blowing, errand running, dog walking, babysitting, bookkeeping/tax, I mean get creative! The biggest thing that holds people back is the thousands of excuses you can make – time, small amount of customers/market, what friends/family think, you are likely to fail. They key is to ignore all that noise and just do it!

      • Elijah Williams

        Thanks for replying Andrew.