Felt free when you stepped onto your college campus freshman year? No parents to enforce curfew, make you wash your clothes every Sunday, or walk the dog. Still, the freedom you experienced in your freshman year in college is nothing compared to the structure-less life you will experience as a college graduate. If graduates do not properly manage their new-found freedom, it can cause frustration for themselves, their family, and their partners.
The first step towards adult living is beginning to manage your finances with an eye towards the long term. Before, all you had to worry about was making sure you had enough credits to do laundry - now you need to pay rent.
It’s not an easy transition, but we’re here to provide the essential rules you need for getting your financial future started right.
- Live below your means. Place extra money into savings or investment accounts to create a more stable future.
- Keep an open mind. A May 2012 Rutgers University Study revealed that only 51% of college graduates have full-time jobs. The job market might appear unfavorable, and at times unforgiving, but you only need one good job offer—not two or three. In a difficult job market, you may wish to try something new - perhaps not what you planned, but where there may be more jobs available.
- Avoid new purchases during the first months of a new job. That includes new clothing, expensive restaurants, and other new expenses. Especially avoid large purchases, such as leasing a home or buying a car. Renting an apartment for the first few post-graduate years will suffice, and you avoid many incremental, variable expenses such as utilities, and gym membership at some apartment complexes.
- Save money, but don’t move back home. Moving back to your parents’ home might seem like an effective to save money, but it can also remove your motivation and drive to grow. Most graduates lack the discipline to place the money in investment or savings account, and instead begin spending it on new electronics, cars, entertainment systems, and anything else imaginable.
- Grow your credit—carefully. Too many people open credit cards under the guise of improving their credit, or thinking “I’ll pay it at the end of the month.” However, many people lose track of their expenses, and think the cash back rebates, or airline miles will offset the cost of the interest rate. Use Mint.com to track all your credit card, savings, and checking accounts in one central place.
In short, the easiest way to save money: keep living like a college student.