Graduating from college is an exciting but daunting time in anyone’s life. At first, the world is full of possibility, opportunity and dreams just waiting to come true. However, for most graduates, this time is often tainted by the reality of responsibility and uncertainty. Unless you’ve walked out of college and straight into a high paying job, it’s likely that a lack of money is going to be a tricky issue for many newcomers to independent living. On the other hand, even high earning graduates may not have the money management skills they need to stay in control. Here are ten money-saving tips to help you manage your finances after college.
- Develop Your Budgeting Skills
You may have already gotten to grips with budgeting as a student living on loans and grants, but that doesn’t mean that you stop when you’re earning a wage. You need to establish a monthly budget based on how much money is coming in and where it needs to go. Luckily, today’s computer literate students can do this easily through online banking and money management apps so that you can keep a close eye on spending and your current balance.
- Calculate Your Living Expenses
When you’re living as a student, a lot of your living expenses are taken care of or significantly reduced in line with your lack of earnings. Unfortunately, that can mean that you’re unprepared for a lot of the costs and bills which start coming your way when you start living independently. Unless you’re living with family, you’ll need to pay utility bills, rent, and your transport costs, as well as the usual groceries. These expenses can quickly add up, and if you’re not smart, you can find yourself in trouble.
- Pay Off or Refinance Your Student Debt
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to rid yourself of student debt instantly, but that doesn’t mean you should only pay off the minimum amount each month. The quicker you can repay your loans, the less interest you will pay and the quicker you’ll be able to put your money into savings. You can set up a payment plan so you pay more than the minimum amount each month or you could consider refinancing your student loans to get a better interest rate. You can find out more at Crediful.com.
- Think About Retirement
It may seem a long way off given that you’ve only just finished college, but it’s never too early to think about your retirement. A 401(k) is a retirement savings plan which can be matched by an employer to increase its worth and putting some of your wages into a personal savings account is also a great habit to start.
- Save for Emergencies
In addition to your retirement fund, savings are also crucial when it comes to more immediate issues. Sometimes emergencies happen, and often they come with high costs. You could find yourself unexpectedly unemployed and unable to pay your bills, or your car could break down. Start saving money each month for an emergency fund to give you a safety net against the unexpected.
- Always Pay Your Bills on Time
Missing payments is a quick way to both damage your credit score and land yourself with extra fees. It’s relatively simple to keep track of all your obligations thanks to automated bank payments and budgeting apps which include payment reminders so you can keep all your bills organized in one place.
- Build and Maintain a Good Credit Score
A good credit score will be crucial when it comes to accessing the best credit cards, loans and mortgages in the future, so start building one as soon as you can afford to. Open a low-interest credit card for some of you bigger purchases and pay more than the minimum payment back each month to establish yourself as a responsible borrower. Missing payments, late payments or using too much of your available credit will negatively impact your credit score, so be sure to use credit responsibly.
- Learn to Live Within Your Budget
Being sensible with money doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy life, but you need to get used to living within your means. Avoid expensive luxuries as much as you can and reserve them for special treats.
- Team Up with Other Budgeting Friends
You’ve just left college, so the chances are that you’ve got a few friends around you who are also trying to live frugally. This is a great opportunity to maintain a social life but to do so in ways that don’t break the bank. Find free events you can attend together and organize parties at home rather than visiting pricey bars and clubs.
- Focus on a Long-term Goal
Saving money is much easier when you have a goal to aim for. This doesn’t have to be something as practical as retirement or an emergency fund; it can also mean saving for a vacation or a new car and that down payment for your dream home. Whatever you’re striving for, your financial responsibility will be rewarded.