Around this time of year experts of all kinds come out of the woodwork to offer their advice to college grads. I’d make fun of them, but I’m one of them. Although I promise, my advice is at least a little more helpful than, “Spend less than you make,” (although that’s great advice).
Watch below to hear my top 3 tips for being a financial success after college, courtesy of Fox 59.
First of all, you’ve got to get your student loans in order. Chances are you’ve been accumulating student loans for the past four years without much thought. Even after graduation you are given a further deferment window of 3-6 months, just long enough for you to adjust to your new income. This is no good for your budget. In order to afford your student loans you need to budget from what’s left after you pay your student loans. For example, let’s say you bring home $2,000 a month and your student loan payment is $300, then you actually budget from $1,700 a month. That means you have $1,700 for food, rent, transportation, insurance, and entertainment (check out my Ideal Budget for percentages). If you are wondering how you are going to know your student loan payment since it isn’t due for a few months, you’re going to have to call.
Secondly, you have to start saving right away. Saving isn’t something you do when you have excess money, or you’ve hit a certain income level. Saving is a habit. Start saving on day one of your working life by putting away a minimum of 10% of your income. Look at your very first paycheck, move the decimal one spot, and shove that amount in a savings account. Future you is already writing a thank you note.
Lastly, consider your location. If at all possible wait to sign a lease until you have a job. Living an hour from your job just doesn’t make sense. Determine where your job is and then search for the closest place you can afford (no more than 25% of your take home pay after your student loans!). Living close to work will save you time and money.
Congrats on the graduation, but don’t exhale just yet. Making these few smart decisions now will prevent a lot of avoidable mistakes.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.