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How to Manage Finances as a Recent Grad

By: iTHINK Financial | Nov 07, 2019

College graduation is the end of an era and the start of your professional career. It’s an exciting time for young adults to take on new challenges and explore their studies in a real-world setting. A new career could mean a new city, new faces and overall, a new life chapter. But this big step toward your professional journey also means it’s time to revisit your financial journey.

The freedom to live independently comes with bills—and lots of them. From rent, utilities and water bills to gas, groceries and insurance payments, your paychecks may have a few new expenses to account for in order to maintain your new lifestyle. Before you leave the bird’s nest to fly solo, consider these tips to ease the stress of managing your new, post-grad financial journey. 

Create a Budget

Now that you’re transitioning from an hourly wage to a salary, it can be easy to get lost in spending sprees with all your extra cash flow. While it’s nice to reward yourself with a congratulatory gift for earning that position at your new company, you should build a practice budget prior to your first paycheck to help estimate bills, savings and personal spending.  

With a new career comes new responsibilities. Whether you’re moving into a new city with a higher cost of living or taking on bills that mom and dad covered during your college years, there’s more to account for as you enter the real world. But using a budget app like Clarity can simplify the process by doing the heavy lifting for you. Simply link your checking and credit accounts and categorize your transactions, then let the app manage the rest. 

Minimize Your Expenses Where You Can

Don’t let your savings fall to the bottom of your priority list as you juggle your finances in post-grad life. Sometimes, your biggest expenses can be the smallest ones in disguise. For example, picking up a last-minute lunch at the restaurant next door to work every day might seem feasible at the moment but come your credit card statement at the end of your billing cycle, and you’ll find that these expenses rack up the quickest. 

While it may not seem like much at the moment, grocery shopping and packing your lunch could minimize your annual expenses tremendously. By being proactive and prepping meals for the week in advance, you’ll save yourself time and money during the week, giving you the flexibility to put that money elsewhere. 

Find a Credit Card That’s Right for You

What good does your spending do if it’s not rewarding you in the long haul? As you transition into adulthood and put more money toward everyday expenses, you’ll find that credit card perks will benefit you more than your college debit card for those big-ticket purchases. Investing in a credit card with travel rewards or cash back can help you make the most of your spending—and help you reach those savings goals or dream vacation quicker. 

But before settling on a credit card, compare your top choices, along with their interest rates, annual fees and perks, before picking a lucky winner. Every card is different but finding the right card for you starts with understanding the basics of how credit cards and their point system works. 

Don’t Abandon Your Student Loans

College expenses don’t always end upon graduation, but they sure can be condensed if you start your new financial journey on the right foot. Though you’re given a six-month grace period after graduation before you’re required to make payments on your student loans, factor it into your budget from the get-go to get you closer to that finish line. The earlier you contribute toward your debt, the quicker you will pay off your student loans to focus on bigger financial goals. 

Set Financial Goals and Conquer Them

Above all, don’t let post-graduation stress hinder you from having a little fun. Easing into your first career and taking on a new journey can be intimidating and overwhelming. But managing your finances will help you not only balance your monthly bills but also give you the flexibility to treat yourself comfortably. Setting benchmarks will drive you to reach your financial goals fast, whether that may be buying your first home or investing in a new car. 

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