So you’ve just graduated from college and you’re now entering into the working world. Well, congrats! If you’re like me, then you’ve left school with a truckload of memories and a pile of debt that’s almost soul crushing. Whether you’ve landed a job or still on the market, getting that student loan debt paid off will be no easy task. But take a deep breath, with a little planning and saving, those loans and other payments can be managed in a reasonable fashion.
Here are a few steps you can take to make your post-grad finances less stress-inducing.
Where Is Your Money Going?
We get paid, go out for drinks with friends and pay our electric bill among many other things. Unlike college where we could live off of $20 a week if we needed to and not think twice about it, the post-grad world requires a bit more attention to detail. In order to lay the groundwork for financial security, you must be aware of where your money is going. Keep track of everything you make and spend. This will show you how much money you’ll need per month to cover things like bills, food and entertainment.
Keeping track of cash flow will also show you where you can cut spending in order to save extra money for your student loan payments (those six months come quickly). It should be relatively simple to find the holes in your pocket, because, let’s be honest, did you really need that White Castle at 4 a.m.? There are many other ways to cut useless spending; you just have to figure out how to fund your needs while trimming your wants.
Save, Save, Save
You just returned bottles that your parents gave you and now have $12 in extra cash. This money can, and should be saved. Trust me, it adds up very quickly. Every dollar that you don’t spend on unnecessary things is a dollar that can be put towards bills looming on the horizon. Recently, I’ve gotten in the habit of establishing tunnel vision when I walk into the gas station. I’ve stopped buying energy drinks and snacks there and my bank account appreciates it. So, instead of buying that little thing out of impulse, take that money you would have spent and save it.
Saving can also take place on a larger scale, but it may take a bit more mental toughness. One major saving technique for post-grads is moving in (gulp) with their parents or relatives. Think about it. Imagine not having to pay for rent, electricity, or other utilities. That could mean around $500 in savings a month for you. I know it’s tough, but your bank account will thank you. You can also save some money by taking advantage of public transportation/carpools. That guy on the bus may smell funny, but soon he’ll smell like money saved.
Set Realistic Financial Goals
You might have an entry-level job or deliver pizzas, but either way you’re not going to be able to buy that Lamborghini. Sorry. After you’ve figured out your cash flow and started saving, think of financial burdens that you will have to take on as you progress through your young adult life. One of these goals should be making payments on your student loans. Also, think about what you’ll need in the next few years. These things will probably include a car, apartment or home, and insurance. Do your research and figure out how much per month these things will cost you. You’ll then be able to figure out how much longer you’ll have to live with mom and dad in order to achieve these goals.
All these new payments that you’ll be taking on over the next couple years might be scary, but they’re manageable. You just need to plan ahead and be smart with your spending and saving. How have you altered your finances for the better after leaving college?