Managing your finances after graduation can seem like a daunting task. You’re making a massive transition from focusing on classes and exams to bigger things like how to manage your finances and how to become financially independent. It’s not always easy, especially in the beginning because, well…everyone’s figuring out what’s right for them! To help ease the transition, here are some of our top tips on how to take on financial responsibility after college.
You’ll hear this advice often, and for good reason. The best incentive to save and budget after college is if you set a financial goal for yourself. Of course, the goal you set will vary based on your lifestyle, but having something that you’re working towards helps you stay consistent with your financial habits. You can go big and set a goal to save for a home or start with smaller steps such as saving for a vacation. All you need to do is decide on an amount and start working towards reaching it.
One of the reasons many find it hard to manage money after college is that the budgets they set aren’t realistic. It’s easy to say that you’ll save 60% of your paycheck, but it becomes more challenging once you start adding up all your expenses–but that’s okay! Setting a realistic budget involves figuring out your non-negotiable costs (e.g., rent, groceries, car) versus your negotiable expenses (e.g., dining out, clothing, and other purchases) and designing a budget accordingly. Once you have all your costs down, set up a realistic budget for yourself and track your progress for a month. How easy or difficult was it to stick to the amount you set? What did you spend more money on? Optimize as you go, and you’ll start seeing progress.
Financial responsibility is about budgeting but also cutting costs where possible. There are many opportunities out there for discounts and deals, especially for young professionals. Before choosing products or services, always search to see if there’s a deal first–you might save more than you think! For example, NSHSS members have access to corporate partners that offer exclusive deals and discounts to members, including mortgages and financial services.
Another way to manage your finances after college is to put away money in a hard-to-access account. This could be a high-yield savings account, investment account, or a retirement account like a 401k or Roth IRA. The idea isn’t to put heaps of money away when budgeting after college, but more about building a habit of saving. You might not have a lot of disposable income in the beginning to add, but even a small amount adds up over time. Start with a small auto-saving amount like $5 or $10 and steadily increase it, and you’ll start to see your money add up over time.
Another way to manage money after college is to start building credit where possible. A credit card, if used responsibly, is an excellent financial tool that helps you budget and manage your money. Plus, you can build up your credit score, which will help with making big purchases down the line. Open up a credit card after graduation with a small limit, and pay it on time and in full each month. It’ll help you monitor how much you’re spending, and it helps you build good financial habits that will pay off in the long run.
Remember, the best way to manage your finances after college is to treat it like a marathon, not a sprint. A large part of financial responsibility is recognizing that your budget and priorities will change. But as long as you continue to save where you can, you’ll do great when it comes to how you manage money after graduation.
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Since 2002, NSHSS has supported young academics on their journey to college and beyond as they prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. The mission behind NSHSS is to recognize academic excellence and honor high-achieving students, providing them with the resources and network to excel in college, career, and community. In doing so, NSHSS connects members with global events, scholarships, college fairs, internships, career and leadership programs, partner discounts, and more. Discover what makes NSHSS worth it to student members and how you can get involved.