So you’ve finally graduated from college and are ready to embark on yet another chapter of your life. With the excitement of your college years still fresh in your mind, likely, you don’t want to think about your finances! The truth is though, now that you’ve graduated you’ll want to get your money situation in order. When it comes to getting organised; sooner rather than later will save you some stress. There are a few things you’ll want to consider to stay money-savvy.

Get budgeting

Without a budget, you’re not going to get anywhere with your finances! You’ll need to track your income against your expenses and figure out where you can manage to save. It may be the case that you don’t have a job yet? In this case, you’ll want to make a budget of any remaining money that you have leftover from college. At this stage, you may not be able to include loan repayments in your budget. As soon as you are in a position to do so- you should. What you can do is calculate all of the student loan debt that you have plus any interest. Having these calculations will help you to prioritise your student loan repayments when you can afford to start paying.

Some find it hard to make a budget alone; luckily, there are some finance apps out there which can do much of the legwork for you. One great budgeting app, for example, is PocketGuard. The app can be linked to your accounts and from here you can monitor anything you spend against a set budget. One of the fantastic things about PocketGuard is that it can also track your monthly bills and look for better deals elsewhere (for example on your phone bill).

Consider moving home to save

Let’s face it, you won’t want to move home after college but it could help you to save some money! If you’re in a tricky financial situation your parents might let you go rent-free (or at least pay a good price for a while)! If you haven’t found a job yet, you may have to go for this option. In the case that you already have a job- consider how vital saving is to you at this time. Some graduates feel that it’s better for their personal development to find their own apartment right away. The decision will all depend on your personal preferences and situation. Figure out how much you would stand to save on rent, bills and groceries at home and map this against living by yourself.

Start saving now

It’s never too early to start saving for the future. When you think about your mortgage and retirement these things may seem way off in the distance. The fact is though, they come around fast! If your job offers a retirement account, you’ll want to start transferring into it now. You’ll find that many employers offer to match your contributions (up to a certain figure). It’s better to put as much into your 401K now as you can to improve your financial health later on.

When the future comes around, you’ll be glad you started saving sooner. From your budget, you’ll be able to see how much you can stand to save overall. Putting away even a little each month is better than nothing. Look back to your budget and see if there are any cuts you can make. (A few less dinners out or shopping sprees can make a world of difference)!

Thoroughly plan your career path

You’ll likely have chosen your college major with a certain career path in mind. Now is the time to make a more detailed plan of the career path that you wish to take. Find out the highest level that you can reach and give yourself something to aim for. Once you’ve got your entry-level position, research what would be the next step. What is the next promotion to aim for? How much can you increase your salary by? Find out what you should do next, be it a training course or simply more experience.

Having said this, don’t just consider the money when you are seeking out  job. You should also closely consider if this is really the right career path for you. If you take a job based on the money rather than passion- you may not last long! You won’t want to be back to square one in a year or so’s time. Pursue roles based on your goals and ambitions first.

Refinance your loan

When you refinance your student loans, this means that you are combining all of your loans (federal or private) into a single loan that yields a lower interest rate. The top benefit of doing so is that you’ll have lower monthly payments. With less to pay each month, you’ll have a little more money spare to save. Generally, lenders will take a look at your credit score before approving you to refinance your loan. In addition to this, your debt overall and income will be assessed.

In some cases, a refinance can extend the duration of your loan.  If you’d like to pay off your loan over a longer period of time, this could be a good option. If you’re interested in a refinance, Credible are well worth a look. They are a little different from your average refinancing company as they can help you find a loan that’s ideally suited to your situation. For a Credible review, you can take a look here.

Self-branding

When you’re trying to climb the career ladder and improve your finances, self-branding is a great step. Get yourself a blog and write articles related to your field. Share your knowledge and get some basic SEO skills to get your blog seen. Promote yourself on social media, specifically sites like LinkedIn. When you are looking to increase your earning potential long term, you’ll want to keep building up your brand and putting yourself out there. The more that you do, the more connections and opportunities that will arise. If you have a blog, you could also buy and include affiliate links in your posts and get paid this way.

Keep learning

If you want to increase your chances of making more money, you’ve got to keep on learning. The perfect job won’t usually come around right away. With this in mind, you’ll want to keep gaining new skills on the side. Use your free time to continue developing any new skills that you can. Learn by reading, courses, networking or volunteering. The more skills that you acquire, the more you’ll expand your horizons. Skills and experiences can in time be utilized for money making opportunities.

To conclude

Many people worry about their finances, but the best thing to do is to get organised. With a solid budget and saving as much as you can, you’ll be well on the right track. If you don’t like your current job, just keep putting those savings away and using your free time productively. If you work towards you’ll ideal job in your spare time, you’ll feel more positive.

Debt can be a little daunting, but of course it doesn’t just disappear! The best thing that you can do is to figure out how much you owe and look about consolidating your debts into a manageable plan. With all this said and done, life is about enjoying yourself also. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself occasionally whether it’s a full-blown holiday or a day-trip with friends; fun memories matter too!

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