One of the biggest milestones in your life is graduating from college. It’s a symbol of independence and the start of your life as an adult. You’ll be on the hunt for a new job, a possible new place to live (Mom and Dad’s isn’t that bad, right?), and starting to manage your own money, including paying back those student loans. You don’t want to start your finances off on the wrong foot or overextend yourself from the get-go.
It’s easy to think that you can worry about money once you get a good job or further down the road once your established but having good money habits now can save you from a lot of headaches in the future. Here are some tips to keep you on the right path:
- Be realistic. Before you can even figure out what your monthly budget will be, you need to understand what all your expenses will be. And don’t forget to factor in those student loans. They become payable 6 months after you leave school. Any credit cards or car expenses should be added to your debt as well. Now add up your monthly income, subtract the debt and see what the numbers are. Can you afford to live on your own, with a roommate, or will you be staying with Mom and Dad for a bit until you save up some money or find a better job?
- Cost of living expectations. Living in your own place is drastically different than living on campus in a dorm. Besides rent, you’ll have to pay utilities including electricity, gas, or water, groceries, renter’s insurance, and internet. This is in addition to any additional debt you bring from step 1. You might not be able to afford the apartment that you want right away without a roommate to share expenses. Don’t forget, you’ll also have to pay a security deposit when you rent – in addition to first and last month’s rent, that could be a sizeable amount.
- Avoid new debt. While getting a new car or financing new furniture may be tempting and something you think you need right now put it off. New debt, including credit cards, can quickly become crippling to your finances. A missed payment can easily ruin your credit and could affect your job search if your employer does a credit check. Don’t let debt become a roadblock and dream killer. There is plenty of time to save for items that you don’t need right now.
- Create that budget. Now that you know your income and total living expenses and debts, set a budget and stick to it. A budget helps you understand your finances, what you can afford, and set you up for the future. Living within your means is a valuable skill that is important to learn early on. Need help creating and sticking to that budget? – check out this blog.
- Start saving now! Many new grads don’t understand the value and power in saving. It’s also hard when working with a limited income and learning how to handle your own finances and living expenses. BUT it’s just as important as paying your bills and sticking to your budget. Why? Because no one plans on an emergency happening or losing their job. If you start saving right out of college, you set yourself up to better handle and adjust to any setbacks. It’s also a great way to purchase larger items without adding to your monthly debt. Make sure to budget in money for your savings with each payment – trust me, you’ll thank me later.
Adjusting to life out of college isn’t easy and can take some time. Handling your own finances may seem scary and even hard, but the longer you do it, and the more you understand your financial situation, then better off you will be. You’ll be able to know when you can afford something new when you need to cut back, and easily figure out how to live your life within your means.
Branch Manager – Torrington