Graduating college is an exciting time to be sure. You have finally finished your education – which you started when you were just a small child – and you get to head out into the real world to get a job and make some real money. While you know that there will be challenges ahead, it is exciting to get to start out on your own and feel like a true adult for the first time.
One of the obvious challenges that faces almost every new college graduate is a lack of money in the bank. Between student loans, low entry level wages, and newfound expenses, it can seem like an impossible challenge just to get by. Fortunately, it is possible to survive, but you are going to have to think logically and make sound decisions right from the start.
Modest Living Arrangements
While you are certainly excited to finally bust out of the college dorms, you don’t want to go overboard with your first apartment or condo (or even house). Keep your budget at the top of your list and pick out something that you are sure you can afford. There will be plenty of time to upgrade later, so play it safe to start with. Also, finding a roommate is a great way to share costs initially.
Now would be a great time to start to learn how to cook for yourself (if you don’t know how already). You might have gotten through college on a combination of cafeteria meals and fast food, but that just isn’t going to work out in the real world. Learn some basic cooking skills and you will quickly save money because eating out is expensive!
Avoid Credit Cards if Possible
Getting your first credit card can make you feel like you are rich, even if you only have a modest credit limit. While it is a pretty good idea to have a card in your name in case of emergencies, try to limit your spending to debit cards and cash so that your spending doesn’t spiral out of control.
Just as with your housing arrangement, you also want to be smart when picking out a car (if you don’t already own one). Buying a used car that is in good condition will probably be your best bet, as you can hopefully get a few years of service from it before you are ready to purchase something new. Consider ‘certified pre-owned’ programs at dealerships which often back used cars with a modest warranty.
Set a Savings Percentage
One of the first things you should do when you get your first job is to set a percentage of your wages that you would like to save. Many online banks, such as Discover Bank, allow you to automate savings on whatever interval you like. If you can stick to the number that you set for yourself, and you do a good job of just living on what is left, you will see your savings quickly grow and you will have a nice financial cushion as you move later into adult life.
How else can a new college graduate save money? Did you do these things to avoid overspending after college?
Photo courtesy of: MariaGodfrida