4 Money Tips for Life After Graduation

College graduation can be an exciting time. Most likely, you’ve been in school for as long as you can remember. It can be exhilarating to finally have the opportunity to go out into the world and see how you fare in the career of your choice, but there are also plenty of challenges ahead. College prepares you somewhat for this transition, but not entirely. The tips below can help you navigate your post-student life with more ease.

Refinance Your Student Loans

You might have assumed you were locked into your student loan repayment plan, or you may simply think it isn’t worth looking deeply into your payment agreement. However, after graduation can be an excellent time to take a look at the possibility of refinancing your student loans. It’s easy to research refinancing opportunities online, and they can lead to big savings going forward.

Don’t Go Crazy with Credit

Whether you’ve already got an existing credit card, or you’re being bombarded by offers, it can be tempting to put furniture, work clothes, restaurant meals, or nights out on those cards, but it would also be a mistake. It’s far too easy to plunk down the plastic and a whole lot harder to clean up excessive debt that you incur, especially when the interest starts to mount. If you don’t yet have an emergency fund saved up, you may want to hang onto the credit card for unexpected expenses, but otherwise, you should only charge things on it that you can pay off at the end of the month.

Don’t Live Beyond Your Means

The credit card suggestion is really part of a larger point: don’t live beyond your means. Sure, there’s a dream apartment you’d like to move into, or it feels like time to upgrade the car you had all through college, but if you haven’t done so already, it’s important to learn how to budget what you’re paid and make it last throughout the month. That doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to spend money on anything fun. It does mean that you need to be sure that your rent or mortgage and other bills are paid and you’ve got enough for necessities before you start spending on everything else.

Save and Invest

Once you graduate, you should have a couple of financial priorities. One should be saving up several months of expenses in an emergency savings fund. Things such as medical co-pays, dental issues, vet bills, and car repairs can come out of nowhere can wreck your budget, but an emergency savings fund can help you avoid that. The other thing you need to do is start putting money away in a retirement account. Even if your employer doesn’t offer one, you should find out whether you can create and contribute to one you set up on your own. The money that you put away at this point in your life will compound until it is worth many times more once you’re ready to retire. Once you are making regular retirement contributions and you’ve got three to six months of savings, you can look at other investment possibilities.

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