4 Post-College Finance Tips to Get You Started in the Real World

 

Landing your first job post-college is a big deal. You spent years studying your ass off, potentially accruing a crippling debt in the process, and now you have the chance to start paying it all back, and become a productive member of society. Post-college finances are a big deal.

Finances are something a lot of people struggle with, not just young adults out on their own for the first time. Between student loans, credit card debt, unpaid medical bills, and emergencies, it’s no wonder people lose track of their finances.

Hopefully with these tips you will help prevent you having more serious financial issues in the future.

Start Saving

This is the biggest thing for you to do when you start your first job. Post-college finances may be tough if you’re living on your own and have bills for the first time. But take it from someone who didn’t save during her first job, it’s best to save, even if it’s a small amount.

If you can’t start with 10%, calculate what you can start with and automatically put it into a savings account. Most of the time if you talk to your payroll person, there’s a form you can fill out so it automatically is deducted from your paycheck so you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself and tempt spending it.

Related Link: Personal Finance Step Guide

Emergency Fund

This goes along with the savings. Having an emergency fund is so many people’s savings grace when shit hits the fan. First time on your own can come with some unexpected events, and having a set of cash tucked away when your finances are going downhill can be the difference between paying your rent or not.

The general “rule” for an emergency fund is to have 3-6 months worth saved up. That helps for if you lose a job, you have the cushion to look for a new one without the panic of lack of finances.

Related Link: Emergency Funds:Everything You Need to Know

401(k)

This post-college finance tip is something I regret not doing sooner. I’ve been at my current job for over 2 years and I haven’t started my 401(k) yet. Your 401(k) is an account is a retirement account, and over time will grow to (hopefully) a decent amount for when you decide to retire. If you work for a good company, they may match what you put in. That’s free money!

The earlier you start this, the less you have to worry and throw extra funds at when you’re older. So if you’re eligible at your job, sign up as soon as possible.

Related Link: What is a 401(k)?

Budget

A budget is crucial for your post-college finances. Without a budget your savings you can be throwing money away or not investing enough. Making sure you have enough money to pay your bills, eat, pay for gas, and save. You need to sit down and figure out how much your bills cost vs. how much you make. If you’re making more than you spend, great, you can add more to savings. If you’re making less than you’re spending, you need to figure out ways to cut back on expenses or find a second job.

Related Link: Budgeting by Practical Money Skills

Want more finance advice? Check out the /r/PersonalFinance subreddit!

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  • These are such important tips! As someone who’s about to graduate, the whole “finances” things is going to get very real, very fast. I hadn’t thought about automatically adding parts of my paycheck to savings, but I might have to now!

    • I didn’t start saving until my most recent job. It’s so much easier! I have a set amount that goes into a dedicated emergency fund and it just sits there until I need it. I don’t even notice the amount that’s missing.