When I first graduated, I did some things right with my money (lived cheaply, didn't get into a lot of debt), but I also did some things wrong (didn't ask for raises, borrowed too much money from my parents, didn't save any money for several years). If you're graduating and just starting off, here's some money tips to get you started, from someone who went through what the young graduates of today are going through.
Don't pretend your student loans don't exist
I'm not saying you should become overly worried about your loans right after you graduate, but don't pretend they don't exist! You usually have a six-month interest-free deferment period before you have to start repaying them, so take that time to get organized. Figure out what your monthly payments will be, and start taking the steps to be prepared to repay them when the time comes. Bundle has many articles for dealing with student loan debt, so be sure to read about them if you need extra help.
Don't spend big money going out every night on food and drinks
This is definitely the time of your life to live it up as a twenty-something, but it's also not the best idea to spend all your extra income at the bar every night. You would be surprised how much money you'll save by limiting how much you spend at restaurants and bars. Find ways to live it up for less: Throw house parties, potlucks, brunches, and when you do go out, have the $2 PBR instead of the $8 cocktail — at least sometimes.
Read on for more rules.
Don't get a big car loan
It's OK to have debt, but in my opinion, getting a big car loan right after you graduate is a really terrible idea. Imagine what else you could do with $200-$300 dollar each month? (Like pay off your loans or open an IRA!) Consider moving to a city with good public transportation, or saving up to buy a used car in good condition. You'll be surprised how much you'll save in the long run by not having a car loan hanging over your head.
Don't forget to save
Saving can be a drag at any age, and it's especially hard just after you graduate to remember to start savings. It's seems like you have your whole life ahead of you! You do, but get in the habit early on. Even if you can save $25 or $50 each month, you're on the right track! Start by setting up an emergency fund.
Don't be afraid to negotiate for a better salary
This is one of the main money lessons I wished I'd learned sooner. When I was looking for a job just after college, I was so relieved to find any kind of job, that I didn't even think about asking for more money. This is a great time to hone your negotiation skills.
Don't rely (just) on your parents
If your parents do have money to help you out after graduating, that's great! But remember: Becoming financially independent is an important lifelong skill (not to mention, an indicator that you're an adult), so even if you have support from parents or family, learn to budget and save! If you ever want to start a business, buy a house, or get a job that requires accounting or financial literacy, make it a goal to be financially independent sooner rather than later.
Do learn to cook
Knowing how to throw together a meal for yourself and other people is not only one of the greatest pleasures in life, it will also significantly cut down on your dining out tab. Learning to cook is a fun, often inexpensive hobby that will probably last a life time.
Do buy a lot of used things
I wrote about things you should buy used before, but I'll say it again: Find ways to live well but live cheaply. Clothes, furniture, books, and cars are all items you can find for significantly less at second hand stores or off Craigslist.
Do take care of yourself
I'm all for living cheaply, but you have to keep spending on certain things, like YOU! Keep investing in yourself. Whether that's taking classes at a local community college, paying for a career coach or therapist, or joining a gym or yoga studio, it's important to keep investing in things that you love and that will help you set up a balanced, healthy life.
Do talk to people about money
Seek money advice from people that are older than you, especially if they have good money habits! There are also tons of great websites and blogs (like this one!) that will help you learn about personal finance.