Savings guide for new grads
Ah, freedom. It’s what recent graduates have been striving for all these years.
It’s a lifetime free of text books and cramming for tests. It’s also freedom from parents, and an opportunity to set off on life’s amazing journey.
But the problem with freedom lies in the very first part of the word.
Free. Not much in life is.
The very best advice any financial advisor would offer is look for the things in life that are free. Think, drinking water instead of cola; walking in nature vs. paying for a round of golf.
The next bit of wise advice from the financial advisor: Work on staying out of debt, or limiting the amount of debt you’re in. A good start in life means setting goals, which means already looking ahead toward saving money, be it for future children, or even retirement.
With freedom, after all, comes great responsibility. A few tips on saving as a new graduate:
A gap year:
Not sure what you want to do with your life? If you’re clueless, take a year off. See if you can find work in areas that are of interest. Volunteer at a Humane Society if a job as a vet tech sounds interesting, for instance. Or if cooking is a passion, consider an entry-level job at a restaurant.
Save, save, save:
Through high school, and even college, many students still depend on mom and dad for finances and financial decisions. Independence means making wise choices, and that adds up to saving every cent possible. Sure, that concert sounds like fun. But add up the costs of the ticket, plus parking, plus dinner beforehand and drinks during the show. The cost of that $60 has now doubled. And $120 will buy you a new tire, or a suitcoat for a job interview. Believe it or not, even setting aside a modest sum every month, like $15, will make a huge difference over time.
Let’s face it – life is no fun without the occasional treat. Save money with a Groupon. Make those savings even more impressive when you go to ShopAtHome.com, where you’ll earn 8 percent cash back on that Groupon purchase. So a theater, spa or restaurant might not be out of the question, after all.
The big budget:
The wise graduate comes up with a personal budget, listing sources of income and expenditures. The former should be larger than the latter. See what’s left over once rent, utilities, transportation costs, health insurance (if you’re under 26, you’re likely to be fine to stay on your parents’ plan), and food and essential clothing costs. College grads may also need to factor in student loan repayments. Set at least a bit aside for unexpected and what you have left is “fun” money.
Avoid the credit card trap:
New college grads should resist the temptation of signing up for multiple credit cards. Using one card and paying it off quickly will help to build credit; signing up for multiple cards will not. Resist the temptation of going on a buying frenzy after graduation. The wise grad celebrates quietly, and only charges what she knows can be paid back.
Finding the fun:
The best things in life really are free or at least cheaper. Grads should look at shopping in thrift stores for inexpensive clothing as an adventure, and consider honing cooking skills. Libraries are a haven for those with little cash, offering books and movies. A date night doesn’t have to mean an expensive meal out: cooking at home, renting a movie on Netflix and popping popcorn will save dollars. If going out is a must, if you’re over 21, look for happy hour deals and Groupons.
Coupon and earn Cash Back on your purchases:
ShopAtHome.com can help you do that that by offering the following when you shop online at any of thousands (ass in 55,000) of your favorite stores and brands: coupons, cash back and reward points. So before you purchase that new dress shirt at a store like Macy’s, visit ShopAtHome.com to find the deals, look for coupons, and get Cash Back. At Macy’s, for instance, you’ll get 7 percent Cash Back and earn 50 ShopGold Rewards.