POST-GRAD MONEY TIPS
If you’re anything like me, you enjoy the greater things in life but you're also kind of frugal and hate spending money if you don’t have to. I am still working on this balancing act that we call "adulting" – it’s hard wanting a $150 watch but also not wanting to spend $150 on a watch.As a recent college graduate with new responsibilities and bills to pay, I underestimated what an increase in income would mean for my spending habits. I figured, if I could live on my RA stipend of roughly $500 dollars a month, I will definitely be living comfortably when I have a real job and a salary.
It’s kind of crazy how fast adulting came to me. Leaving college, my biggest financial commitment was my $25-dollar credit card minimum. With my beat-up 2001 Toyota Echo (and nowhere to commute to), on average I would spend about $50 on gas a month. At the most, my groceries were around $60 a month. To make a long story short – my monthly expenses are not the same now with a new car and a job that is 20 miles from home.
These are some tips that I have found to be very helpful to saving money while still being able to treat myself once in a blue moon.
Budget. Having a strict budget that you can see and revisit holds you accountable. I have attached a link for a great personal budget with the equations already set up. With this budget – I do suggest you revisit every week or every two weeks when you get your paychecks. Even if you forget to visit the budget, it will hold you accountable when your monthly deficits are not looking how you anticipated.Check for any comments I have added!
Don’t Pay Yourself First. We’re still young, the idea of being financially stable is probably still an enigma to some of us. The best thing I have done for myself is to set my direct deposit to pay my car note and savings account. Money out of sight, money out of mind. With this, you can set your budget around things that are priorities – your bills! Don’t be the person who realizes they don’t have enough to pay their credit card bill because they felt rich at Nordstrom.
If You Can’t Buy It Twice, Don’t Buy It. The average American doesn’t have a ‘rainy-day’ fund set up of at least $500 in the case of an emergency. If you find yourself spending frivolously because you have “just enough”, keep this in mind.
Don’t Move Out if You Don’t Have To. Truth be told, moving back in with my parents from college has been awesome. I don’t have to spend too much on groceries, I feel independent but I also have a sense of authority that keeps me on track, and there’s always free wine in the house. Say less.
Pay Off Student Loans Early. Namely, pay off the ones with higher interest rates while you’re still in the 6-month grace period. Once you have to start making payments, you’ll just be overwhelmed with another payment. Try to take care of these things while you can – even if it’s just $100 here and there.
Ditch a Birthday Present. If you’re mature enough, don’t bother asking for a disposable birthday present. Ask for shares in a stock. Money makes money and will be well worth your while when you really need it.
401K. Take advantage of your employers’ financial benefits packages. Companies match your monthly contribution. I only recently learned how these accounts work so bear with me as I try to explain it. My monthly contribution of my paycheck is 6%, and the company matches 50% of it (3%). If my monthly paycheck is $100, my contribution to my 401K is $6 and my company contributes $3. It’s free money! Once again, out of sight, out of mind. Retired you will be thankful.
Cash Back. Sign up for rewards and cash-back deals. Giant and Shell Gas have great cash back reward programs the more you use them. The app FuelRewards really pays off, a friend of mine filled her entire tank of gas with less than a dollar.
Get Credit. It’s scary, but it’s time. Get a credit card ASAP! Lenders offer credit to people who have shown to be trustworthy; the earlier you get an account and pay the bank back – the more likely you are to qualify for big loans when you buy a house or a car. Many credit cards also offer cash back for groceries and gas, or even mileage for frequent fliers. Look into it!
Sell old Clothes. I have been using PoshMark and Plato’s Closet to get some extra coins for my old or underused clothes. I have had a lot of luck so far, and it gives me extra pocket change to spice up my current wardrobe.
I hope these were some helpful tips and that you use them to your advantage, they have helped me out a ton and I cant wait to see my money grow. Pull a CardiB, make money moves.