For many college graduates, it’s time for the real financial world.

Are they ready?

If you’re a graduate, are you ready?

In a post for the Motley Fool, Nicole Seghetti provides five pieces of advice to help graduates start off on the right financial foot.

Here’s one of her tips: Don’t try to compete.

“Out-of-control spending on ‘must-have’ designer shoes and expensive nights out at trendy restaurants can rack up credit card debt that takes years to pay off,” she writes. “If your friends decide to go this route, so be it. You don’t have to follow them down the same slippery financial slope.”

Read the rest of Seghetti’s advice.

Teresa Mears, writing for U.S. News and World Report, offers 13 money tips for graduates, including this bit of advice that I often tell graduates. Mears suggests that people weigh the costs compared with the financial benefit of going to graduate school.

“In some fields, such as education, a master’s degree is a necessity,” writes Mears. “In others, having a master’s degree grants few career benefits beyond what you learn. You don’t want to accrue additional debt to get a degree that won’t increase your salary. After you’ve been in the workplace several years, you may decide to change direction, or your employer may pay your way.”

Read the rest of Mears’s tips for graduates.

Color of Money question of the week

What one piece of financial advice would you give to a college graduate? Send your comments to Please include your name, city and state.

Troops battle unfair student loan charges

Sallie Mae and its former subsidiary Navient Solutions were slammed with $97 million in fines for unlawfully charging active-duty service members high interest rates and late fees on student loans, reports The Washington Post’s Danielle Douglas.

“Company staff denied some borrowers’ benefit requests and stuck others with more than $500 in excess interest,” reports Douglas. “And when soldiers fell behind on payments, Sallie Mae took legal action against them without documenting their military service, in violation of the law, according to the complaint.”

About 60,000 service members were affected by the practices, which date to 2005. Douglas says that the case against Sallie Mae marks the first time the government has sued a student lender for violating the rights of military personnel.

Neither Navient nor Sallie Mae admitted or denied wrongdoing.

At a news conference, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the fines were intended to send a message to lenders. “This type of conduct is more than just inappropriate, it is inexcusable. And it will not be tolerated,” Holder said.

Live chat today

Join me for today at noon ET. I’ll be taking your personal finance questions. What’s your financial issue? Are you fighting with family and friends about money and need a mediator?

If so, maybe I can help.

Talk to me live today. Here’s the link to join the conversation.

Monica Lewinsky: An affair to remember

Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky made quite a bit of news recently by writing an essay for the June issue of Vanity Fair in which she talks about — again — her affair with President Bill Clinton.

So for last week’s Color of Money question, I asked: What’s your take on Monica Lewinsky complaining that she can’t find work?

Here’s what some of you had to say:

“Perhaps she feels if Hillary Clinton runs for president she will be news again and would prefer not to be,” e-mailed George Hughes of Bethesda, Md.

Coretté from Fort Washington, Md., wrote in an e-mail: “I believe Monica Lewinsky should profit from the scandal. The Clinton’s have made millions, and she should, as well. I agree that her actions were completely inappropriate and undoubtedly wrong, but she should not have to continue to suffer for this wrong. The media needs to cut her some slack and leave her alone. I think she’s endured enough ridicule, humiliation, and job loss to go around for several people. If I were her, I’d change my name, dye my hair and move on with life once and for all (after she makes money on the article).”

“The first thing this woman should have done was go to court and get her name changed,” e-mailed Kathleen Higley of Wolfeboro, N.H. “The second thing would have been to use her intellect to pursue an education that would have guaranteed her a job serving others, something along the lines of social work, nursing school or medical school. She obviously doesn’t really want to ‘bury the beret and burn the blue dress.’ How sad. Her 15 minutes of fame has become a weight dragging her down. It’s long past time to move on.”

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to