We know that life after graduation can be stressful between starting a new job, navigating your finances, finding housing, and more! Where do you start? Learning the best way to handle your money can help you on your way to financial success. Keep in mind, everyone has a different situation, so you have to find what path works best for you!
Like most college students, you probably graduated with some type of student loan debt. Although you are given a deferment period after graduation before you are “required” to start making payments, consider adding the cost and making payments to your budget NOW, so you know what you have remaining AFTER those payments each month. Remember to keep a close eye on your student loans as missing a payment can negatively affect your credit! Aim to pay off your student loans as quickly as possible - not only does this relieve some of the extra stress but you get that cash back in your pocket!
Budget, Plan, Save
Give Every Dollar a Place
Budgeting is going to become your best friend! By splitting your monthly expenses into categories and dollar amounts, you know exactly what is going where and how much you CAN spend for the month. A budget helps keep your finances on track (covering your needs, savings, debts, and wants!) and hopefully avoid any mistakes that could negatively impact you. Don’t forget to include expenses like insurance, retirement, and emergency fund as well as other little things you might not think of! For our budgeting percentage recommendations read this #SmarterHabits article.
SmartTip: It may take a couple of months of adjusting your budget to know what works best for you!
Live Below Your Means
While most people think that this means you must live cheaply, it doesn’t! This simply means adjusting your lifestyle to make sure you can cover ALL your needs, wants, savings and debts. Try cost-saving alternatives like cooking or a movie night at home before agreeing to go out! Most importantly, know that sometimes we must tell ourselves “no” if we cannot afford something and/or it wasn’t it your budget, AND that’s okay. By cutting some costs, you might even have extra cash to pay on debt or add to savings.
SmartTip: Try living in the most cost-efficient place near your job, this will save you time and money!
Saver or Spender
Whether you consider yourself a saver or a spender, you will quickly realize that saving is not only important for emergencies but your future as well. Rule of thumb is at least 10% of your annual income or 3 to 6 months of living expenses. Start saving when you receive your first paycheck, don’t wait! You will also want to include a “saving” category as part of your monthly budget or plan.