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Money Fix: Here's your financial survival guide, new grads

Criminology majors take a selfie during the State

Criminology majors take a selfie during the State University of New York College at Old Westbury School of Arts and Sciences Graduation on Sunday, May 17, 2015. Photo Credit: Angela Datre

After the ceremony, the parties, the magic moments and memories, new grads will face reality, and it will bite, hard. The Class of 2015 faces the most debt in history, reportedly $56 billion, or $35,000 each on average, in student loans.

With that noose around their necks, there's little room for error. Here's a game plan to get off to a good financial start.

Temper expectations: "Don't rush to buy a new car within two weeks of your first job offer. Don't take on large expenses like your own apartment right away. Staying with old roommates or at home for a period can pay off," says David Flores, counselor at GreenPath Debt Solutions in Hauppauge.

Create a budget: Once you get a paycheck it can evaporate. Decide how much you'll need for student loan repayment and other expenses. "Concentrate on paying down high- interest credit cards and building an emergency fund," says Benjamin Sullivan, a certified financial planner with Palisades Hudson Financial Group in Scarsdale.

Pay yourself first: Set up direct deposit from your paycheck into savings and investments. "Aim to save at least 5 percent from each paycheck," advises Rakesh Gupta, a professor at Adelphi University in Garden City.

Even though you might not get that big starting salary that you hoped for, enroll in your company's retirement savings plan. "Sign up for automatic 1 percent increases in your 401(k) contribution each year," says Lisa Holland, market president, retail, for TD Bank in Melville.

Time is on your side. Good habits like paying bills when due and not spending like there's a money tree in your backyard will serve you well, forever.

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