As back to school season approaches and school supplies shopping begins… those of us who recently graduated are feeling the pressure of adulthood and managing your finances.
For some, this feeling of needing to “get my life together” comes even while you’re still in college.
No matter if you’ve recently graduated or you’re just looking to get your finances in order, here are 4 easy steps you can take today to truly start to take charge of and make sure you are managing your finances after graduation!
Set a Student Loans Payback Plan
It’s tough love time. If you took out student loans and haven’t started to pay them back yet.. It’s time.
First things first – log into your student loan dashboard, from whoever your student loan provider is, and look at that amount. Then, look at when you need to start paying it back. Depending on the types of loans you have, you may have a 6 month grace period after you graduate before you need to start paying it back so make sure to look into that as well.
Next, learn about the different repayment options on this website here and decide what payment plan is best for you. (Side note – this is 100% not sponsored, but the Federal Student Aid website there has a lot of great info on how to start to pay back your student loans if you’re lost!)
Then, log back into your student loan dashboard and there should be a place where you select the repayment plan that you want to use to inform the provider.
Lastly, set up automatic payments. Look, you need to pay your student loans monthly anyway… so it just makes sense to set it up so that they are automatically paid and you don’t have to worry about it. If you can afford it, aim to pay more than the minimum balance each month to chip away at that debt faster.
Total Up Expenses
Do you know how much you spend each month on car insurance, Netflix, medication, and phone bill? What about your blog domain, getting your nails done, and your razor delivery service? It’s time to look at all of it. Yep all of it.
Open your banking app and get out a notebook. Keep scrolling down through your activity and everytime you come across a payment that you make regularly (weekly, monthly, every two months, every six months, yearly… etc) write it down. Include what it is, the amount, and how often you pay it. If you have any loans, include that monthly payment in there!
Don’t worry about including food or toiletries except for any recurring subscription services.
Then, open this recurring expenses calculator that I made and input all of this info!
This calculator will automatically total up how much you spend each week, every 2 weeks (what is often your regular paycheck), every month, and every year on your recurring expenses.
By looking at this you can see how much you need to be making to pay your expenses, and you may be able to quickly identify things that you don’t need and can cut down on in order to save money.
RELATED: Listen to this episode of my podcast, The Quarter Life Crisis Club podcast, on finances in your 20’s!
You may no longer be in math class, but there is one more formula you need to learn:
Income – Expenses = Savings!!
So now that you know how much you spend on expenses… what do you do with that?
Set Savings Goals
Once you have your budget basics down – it’s time to start saving money! You have big dreams, and chances are they probably require some moolah to make them happen.
When is the next vacation you want to take? Do you want to buy tickets to a concert coming up? How about buying your loved ones Christmas presents without worrying about the blow it makes to your checking account? Want to start saving for a future down payment on a house or car? Feeling like you need to set up an emergency fund, but unsure how to get there?
Two words: Savings. Goals.
Let’s start simple, choose a goal. Say you know you want tickets to the upcoming TSwift concert in January that will cost you about $150. Let’s factor in parking and maybe a drink at the concert and round that up to $200. The time to buy the tickets is 5 months away.
$200 / 5 months = Saving $40 a month.
$40 / 4 weeks in a month = Saving $10 a week. (or $10 per paycheck if you get paid weekly like me, or $20 per paycheck if you get paid bi-weekly)
Doesn’t it seem so much easier to set aside $10 each time you get paid to be able to go to this concert, than to suddenly have to deal with dropping $200 when you buy the tickets in January?
For real, set it aside. Don’t leave it in your checking account – put it in your savings! I like to make a separate savings account (it’s free and so easy to do online!) for each of my savings goals to see how close I am to each goal and to really separate my money so I don’t spend it.
Apply this method to any big payments that you have coming up and save with ease!
Did these tips help you with managing your finances after graduation? Tell me all about it in the comments!