The New Grad's Personal Finance Survival Guide
Congrats, new grads, you did it! The future's so bright, you gotta wear shades, right? Probably! But the future might also be littered with student loan debt, empty retirement funds, and a struggling bank account. Right now happens to be the very best time for you to properly prepare yourself for a healthy financial future. Wondering where to start? For a comprehensive list of resources and tips on all things money-related, keep scrolling and set yourself up for monetary success.
Figure out how budgeting works.
While few words are more boring than budgeting, the truth is that learning how to create and maintain a personal budget is one of the most valuable real-life skills you'll ever learn. It ensures that you'll be in control of your money, instead of money controlling you. For mobile convenience, there are some great budgeting apps available to help keep you in line, financially speaking.
Start paying off those student loans immediately.
Although you may have a grace period of six months after graduation, don't take it! You'll adapt to a loan-payment-free lifestyle and it'll be much harder to begin paying off the loans later. Just start chipping away at those loans and also figure out the best game plan for decreasing that student loan debt, even though all of this may literally be your least favorite thing to think about right now.
Make small adjustments to save money every day.
There are tons of little ways to save money on a daily basis, from hosting happy hours at home (instead of going out) to cutting the cable cord to stashing away one dollar per day. Don't forget to unsubscribe from retailer emails that only prompt you to spend money unnecessarily, and find sneaky ways to slash that cell phone bill.
Shop more wisely.
There's a handy-dandy way to figure out if your next clothing purchase will be worth the money you're spending on it. Putting a little bit of thought into your purchasing practices — especially as you're just starting to build your bank account — can save you tons of cash in the long run.
Read and grow richer.
Check out this list of books specifically aimed at helping you build your wealth, and also take a peek at these nine titles by female authors that are chock-full of wisdom (financial and otherwise). And never forget: we can learn a lot about making money from goats. Yes, goats.
Start saving for retirement — ASAP.
You've probably heard terms like "401(k)" and "Roth IRA" bandied about, but do you know what they mean? Check out this thorough explanation of all the ways in which you can save for retirement, and take a minute to figure out how much you'll actually need to save up for those golden years. And once you have a retirement fund set up, make sure you're not making any of these common mistakes with it.
Find financial inspiration in podcast form.
The easiest and most low-commitment way to learn about finance? Podcasts! Here are some of the most interesting and informative ones that will spice up your commute while dropping some money knowledge at the same time.
Consider going on a crash cash diet.
While you should use a credit card occasionally (and pay it off in full every month) in order to develop a healthy credit score, try using only cash for the vast majority of your purchases. It will make you hyperaware of your spending habits and it can even become oddly fun if you make a game of taking out a certain amount of cash each week and limiting your spending to just that amount. This way, too, you most likely won't blow a bunch of money you don't have.