College is a time for making mistakes and learning from them. By the time you reach graduation, you’ve probably made plenty of money missteps. So what are the first steps for navigating money after college? In honor of all the recent college grads (CONGRATS! THE MOST FUN PART OF YOUR LIFE IS OVER!) Just kidding. Here are my favorite tips for managing money as a bonafide adult.
Tips for Managing Money After College
Figure Out Your Debt Payoff Plan
Chances are that you had to take on some sort of debt while attending school. That can be the ever-popular student debt, or maybe a credit card to make ends meet. Either way, your first priority post-college should be figuring out how you are going to pay off that debt!
Shameless self-promo here, but FBL has TONS of resources that can help you navigate your debt. Our editor Lauren paid off $8k in 90 days(!!!), there’s an easy-to-use debt tracker that you can get for free, and we have a whole course to walk you through your debt payoff journey.
Basically, we’ve got you covered!
Negotiate Your Pay
Whether you had a job during school or are venturing out into the workforce, you need to learn to negotiate your pay. You just spent a ton of money getting a degree. That means that you’ve (hopefully) gained skills, knowledge, and experience in your field. So you’ve added a lot of value to yourself!
If you already have a job, try to schedule some sort of performance review after graduation. Let your employer know about your new benefit and see about getting a raise. If you’re interviewing and sending out resumes, make sure that you list your degree and any applicable skills you learned while studying. When it comes time to discuss your pay, make sure you’ve looked up the average pay scale for that job. Negotiate accordingly, and remember that the worst anyone can say is no!
Start Saving for All the Things… Retirement/Emergencies/Goals
Chances are that during college you made some not-so-great money decisions. (Been there, totally.) One of the most common is foregoing any sort of savings. Once you’ve finished school, you need to open and actually use a savings account!
See if your employer will match retirement contributions or if they offer a 401(k). Then make regular contributions – most times you can get them taken right out of your paycheck so you don’t even miss it!
Next, open up a savings account for your emergency fund. This is for all those life events that blindside you financially, and it’ll help you avoid using your credit cards! Learn more about emergency funds, including more detail about what it is, why you need one and the recommended amount for an emergency fund.
And lastly, start saving for your own personal goals. (I love the Qapital app for this!) Do you want to take a dream vacation? Maybe buy a new car? Use these savings to make yourself happy in the long run.