You made it! You are now a graduate with a bright future ahead of you. You will be faced with many decisions. The choices you make today can impact your financial future. Wise financial choices will help you navigate these first few years after graduation.
Some things to remember:
- Make a Budget – and Stick to It. One of the hardest things to do is to make a budget that fits both your lifestyle AND your paycheck (take-home pay). When making a budget, write down ALL of your monthly expenses, including…housing, utilities, auto payments, insurance, gas, clothing, etc – Do not forget to build in both an element for SAVINGS and ENTERTAINMENT.Now that you have made your budget – stick to it. This is the hard part of budgeting. Do not overspend and go into debt. SAVE for big purchases. You may have to delay for a little while…but you will end up saving money by avoiding finance (interest) charges. A little wait today = a lot of savings tomorrow.
- Pay Your Bills. It sounds simple, right? Make sure that you pay your bills – on time. This will protect your credit rating which will impact your ability to make larger purchases in the future. This includes all loans (including student loans) credit cards, rent and utilities.
- Where Will You Live? Typically housing accounts for the biggest expense in your budget. When choosing housing ask yourself the following questions. Can I share a home or apartment with a roommate? What are the monthly utilities? What are the insurance costs (renters or homeowners)? What are the annual Property Taxes (if any)? Is there adequate, free parking? Is this close to my job or university? All of these will impact your financial future.
- Retirement Savings…But I Just Graduated! Retirement seems a long time away for you – and it is! However, if you begin to save now you can amass a larger nest egg for retirement. Just imagine…you will be able to go on dream vacations – live in your dream home – drive your dream car. Add a little to a retirement account (IRA or 401K) each pay period and you will save fast and painlessly. Don’t just dream it…do it!
A little preparation after graduation can help protect your finances. Congratulations on your bright future.
Gina Cannady is the Community Development Coordinator at Legacy Community Federal Credit Union. In that role she offers Legacy’s Insight: LIFE Lessons for Today’s World, a free financial education program for the community. Ms. Cannady is a nationally Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC), awarded by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).