If you’ve been out of college for some time, then you’ve probably forgotten the difficulties that you endured during your first few months out in the big, bad world. You’re trying to figure out your next steps, bracing yourself for more responsibilities, and, yup, trying to figure out the money situation. With a new wave of college graduates recently entering the real world, we thought we’d put together some useful money tips, which will help to ensure short- and long-term financial health.
In all likelihood, you’ll have had a sizeable loan to help guide you through the costly business of attending college. While you may have also had a part-time job, so you had some money for entertainment and other expenditures, you could essentially live relatively comfortable in the knowledge that your main expenses were covered. Now that you’ve left college, you’ll have no such security. As such, it’s good practice to review your living situation and all the costs attached to it. Could you live in a less pricey part of the city? Do you really need to go out two times a week? Of course, you don’t have to save every penny, but at least make sure that you’re not living a wildly impractical and unsustainable life.
And following that theme, it’s good practice to get a solid grip of your finances, including all your incomings and outgoings. It’s unlikely to look all that pretty, but it’s a necessary step. If they’re in a mess and you need some time to get them in order, it may be a good idea to pause all expenses for a while. Unfortunately, that may mean moving back in with your parents. After several years of freedom this won’t be the most exciting idea you can come up with, but don’t overthink it – it’s only a temporary situation.
You may have grand ambitions of taking over the world, but…you might have to wait a little while before you put your plans into practice. Success doesn’t come overnight! While you’re waiting for your dream career to come knocking, you should get a part-time job. We say part-time job because searching for a career usually takes more time than people realize; you should approach it like a second part-time job! While you’re searching, you’ll be bringing in some much-needed cash. Plus, you might just learn a thing or two that will be useful to have on your resume.
But of course, your part-time job isn’t going to be everything. Give it your all, learn a thing or two, and use it as a way to bring in some extra cash, but make sure you don’t settle. Your long-term financial health will be determined by your professional success. Alas, there’s a snag: the economy isn’t what it once was, and for every good job that you find, there will be dozens of candidates (if you’re lucky – in some cases, there’ll be hundreds). As such, aim to do everything in your power to get ahead. An internship, volunteering, or otherwise being dogged in your approach will serve you well in your quest to land your dream job!
You’ll have spent a lot of money during your time at college. It can feel like all you were doing was buying textbooks, computers, and other essential college life equipment. However, it’s important to remember that these were not “dead investments,” as in you get nothing in return. You can! Instead of letting all your old textbooks gather dust, sell them via a website like BuybackExpress.com. You’ll be clearing space, and getting some money to put in your bank account. A win-win situation!
Now that you’ve entered the real world, you might be tempted to do all those things that people in the real world do, such as using credit cards. While some good things can come from having and using a credit card (you can build up credit, for example), it’s imperative that you avoid falling into the negative side-effect traps. If you’re using the card for expenses and you’re not sure that you can pay off the balance in full each month, then you’ll be better served by taking some scissors and cutting the card up. You’ll only get yourself into a financial mess otherwise.
College is a pretty equalizer. While there are some people with wealthy parents who never seem to struggle with finances, for the most part, everyone’s in the same boat. No-one has any money; everyone’s just scraping by! But when you leave college, this begins to change. The differences begin to become more pronounced. There’ll be friends who land a well-paying job at the first time of asking, and suddenly find themselves without any money troubles to speak of. Don’t worry about it! Everyone finds their place in their own time. You’ll only cause yourself unnecessary worry if you’re trying to keep up with others. Only keep up with yourself!
You’ve just spent many years and a lot of money investing in yourself, so you deserve a break. But once the summer has passed, it’s time to look at how you can continue to improve. For example, if you have your heart set on one particular job, look to see if there are any internships or volunteering opportunities that will make getting the job more likely. You won’t be bringing in any money, and indeed may have to spend some, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Finally, remember that it’s never too early to get saving! Even putting away a small amount of money each month will slowly add up, and you’ll at least have gotten the ball rolling. The earlier you start these positive habits, the more likely it is that you’ll stick with them in the long-term.