The time after completing your college degree is an incredibly exciting one, but it can also be full of uncertainty and anxiety.
The future you’ve been working toward for the last four years is finally here, and it can be hard to know where to begin with creating a life for yourself that’s stable and comfortable, especially when it comes to your finances.
In truth, though, it’s not quite as daunting as it might seem! To help you get started on the right track, here are a few suggestions for things you can do.
Be Frugal at First
Even if you manage to leave college with a full-time job already lined up, don’t take that as a sign that you can spend a ton of money without consequence. You’re trying to establish a stable existence for yourself, and while splurging on the latest gaming console or concert tickets for your favorite band might seem like a well-earned reward for finishing your degree, it’s probably not the wisest financial decision you could be making in the early stages of building your adult life.
Treat your finances the same way you treated your freshman-year roommate on the first day of living together, and be a little overly careful with how you behave.
Teach yourself how to build a budget, and stick to it as best you can— avoid situations that would lead to you make impulse purchases! The more money you’re able to leave yourself to work with as you begin creating a life for yourself, the more stable and non-stressful that life will become.
Establish Your Priorities
While frugality might seem like the best option in theory, it’s not always realistic in practice. You’re human, after all— you have wants and needs that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice altogether for the sake of saving money.
That said, it can be helpful to prioritize your spending so that you are able to make certain cuts to your expenses, but not enough to where you feel like you’re depriving yourself.
If living in your own apartment isn’t yet a top priority, for example, see what kind of living space you could afford with roommates, or see if you could even live at home for a while with your parents to significantly reduce the amount you’re spending each month on rent. Try to remove other unnecessary expenses for the time being to save money, like non-essential subscription services or unused gym memberships.
Decide what things matter most to you (both the necessities and the more “frivolous” buys), and mold your budget to regularly account for those things. That way, you aren’t living beyond your current means, but you’re also still able to find enjoyment in the life you’re building.
Tackle Your Student Debt Head-On
Nowadays, it’s more than likely that you have some amount of student loan debt that you accumulated during your undergraduate career. As much of a headache as it can be to think about paying off your loans, it’s vital that you hit the ground running and start making payments as soon as possible. Ignoring its existence won’t make it go away, sadly, and you definitely don’t want to have to deal with decades’ worth of debt looming over your head.
Set up a payment plan that is as aggressive as you can afford, but not to the point of putting yourself at risk of financial ruin— this is a long-term stability game, after all, so do your best to stay within your current financial capabilities. But, the faster you can pay down your student loan debt, the easier you’ll be able to breathe when it comes to establishing a healthy financial future.
Automate Your Expenses
One of the easiest ways to make sure you’re on top of your financial obligations is by automating some of your monthly expenses. There’s nothing worse than that moment of sheer panic when you realize you’ve forgotten to drop off a rent check or make a payment on your student loans, so cut out the potential for that stress by setting up direct deposit for your paychecks and automatic withdrawals for your bills each month. So long as you’re proactive about keeping track of where your money’s going through an online banking service or a money tracking app, automating your expenses should make managing your finances far more efficient and less headache-inducing.
other valuable tips:
Think of Your Future
The reason you went to college in the first place was, in all likelihood, to create a better future for yourself, and your efforts to pursue that better future shouldn’t end after you receive your diploma. With everything you do personally and professionally after completing school, make it a point to act in a way that will help you move closer to achieving that dream life.
For instance, set an amount for each pay period that you would feel comfortable contributing to your savings consistently. If your job allows you to start contributing to your 401k early on in your career, seize the opportunity and start setting small amounts aside toward that plan as well. Once you begin to feel more at ease with your steadied financial status, educate yourself on how investing works and start getting involved in the stock market.
As tempting as it can be to place all of your financial focus on the present, taking actions well in advance to make your future as secure as possible will allow you to go about your life with greater peace of mind in the long run.
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