For years, you anticipate the day you graduate from college and strike out into the world to embark on a fulfilling career. The day finally comes, the euphoria eventually wears off, and reality sinks its teeth in. The months after college graduation are often full of financial challenges as you settle into a new routine. How can you save money and make ends meet during this time?
Budget, Budget, Budget
Image via Flickr by 401(K)2012
You landed a decent job, and it is a huge relief that you no longer have to subsist on ramen noodles and those free samples they give out at the supermarket. Still, it is easy to get so caught up in the thrill of having a fair income that you overspend.
For a few months, keep track of everything you spend and what you spend it on. This will help you get used to your monthly income so staying within its boundaries becomes second nature to you. It will also get you into a good habit so that when you take financial adventures in the future, you will know how much you can spend and not get in over your head.
There are tons of handy apps to help you budget. Level Money is a good basic budget app for iOS and Android. Mint is a popular app that helps out with all aspects of money management. If your bank has a mobile app, download that as well so you can keep a close eye on your checking and savings accounts.
Be Down on Debt
That shiny piece of plastic in your wallet is calling your name, but it is a siren waiting to lure you into a trap. If at all possible, avoid debt. One Forbes contributor says, “Debt is a dream killer.” Keeping your debt under control can free you up to pursue exciting career opportunities. If a once-in-a-lifetime job comes your way and you have to turn it down because it won’t cover your monthly credit card bills, you’ll end up regretting it for years.
Also bear in mind that more and more employers are checking the credit of potential employees. So take a moment and consider before you buy that enormous television, the brand new car, and that adorable house on the corner. Instead, focus on establishing your career.
Keeping your debt low will also allow you to continue your education without excessive financial worries. If you are in the medical field, for example, you can pursue an advanced online nursing degree while you gain practical experience working part time or full timeâ€”not overtime.
Crash with Your Parents
Ignore the stigma that might come with living with your parents after you graduate college. If they are willing to give you free lodging for a few months while you get your career off the ground, take advantage of it. You can use this chance to save money, and maybe even take some out of those first few fabulous paychecks to reward yourself with an unforgettable vacation.
If hanging out with mom and dad for a while is out of the question, try to find a roommate so you can spare your wallet and have a place you can call your own.
Avoid Financial Kryptonite
While things like credit card and loan debt make for a heavy financial burden, so do bad everyday spending habits. When you keep track of your spending, you might notice that you spend four dollars on coffee every day or that you lost control at that great clothes sale.
Identify your financial weaknesses and think of plan to get them under control. If you can’t resist the daily lattes, buying an espresso machine for your home will work out cheaper in the long run than daily barista visits. If shopping is what gets you, carefully plan every trip you make to the mall and hold onto your receipts, so you can return things if you accidentally go overboard.
The time after college graduation marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life, and the possibilities for your career are endless. By managing your money wisely, you open yourself up to a universe of opportunities.