Financial survival tips for the post grad

Well you’ve finally made it. Late nights cramming for next morning’s exam, hours spent on the computer typing term papers, and long days in the library researching have all finally paid off! Now, you’ve got the cap and gown and ready to walk across the stage and hopefully walk into a prosperous career. Then the honeymoon phase of post-college fades away. Many graduates find being an adult isn’t as fun and glamorous as they once dreamed.

Yes, many teens and young adults look forward to asserting their independence as an adult. But, being an independent adult means more than just partying all night. Being an independent adult means financial responsibility. In other words you have to pay your own bills. Take it from me I know all too well on what it means to be on your own.

Below are a few financial tips to help the post grad survive their first year out of school without having to withdraw from the bank of mom and dad.

Pack your lunch. Buying lunch daily will leave a huge hole in your wallet. On average, you can spend up to $40 a week eating out every day. Start brown bagging it and watch your wallet fill up. If you don’t know how to cook – learn how – or consider buying pre-package meals at the grocery store.

Cut out cable. The cable and internet bill can easily exceed $100 a month. Most people need the internet for online banking and working from home. I say keep the internet and cut the cable. Cable is an unneeded luxury. There are many great shows to watch on Network TV. Besides, not being distracted by TV will give you the opportunity to get out and volunteer more and find other interesting things to do with your time.

Keep your old car. Unless, you have an old clunker that’s unreliable keep your car. Don’t be tempted to upgrade just because you have a great new job. Car payments take up a large percentage of your monthly income. The money used to pay a car payment can be used to save for retirement, vacation planning, or paying back student loans.

Look for free entertainment. Young adults love to have fun. It’s important not to let your fun turn you into a financial fiasco. Many cities and towns offer free, fun entertainment such as concerts, Museum District Day, and other local activities.

Get a cheaper cell phone plan. Smart phones, such as a Blackberry and the iPhone, are the future and everyone wants one, but not everyone can afford the high monthly payment plan. The phone itself can cost around $200 and your monthly plan is about $97. Unless such a phone is needed for work related matters (in most cases, the company may provide one at no cost to you) stick to a basic cell phone plan.

Dress for less, not to impress. As a young adult entering corporate American it’s important to dress nicely. However, you shouldn’t overextend your income trying to fund a designer wardrobe. There are many ways to dress nice and have money left to pay the rent. Try shopping at outlet malls or even discount stores like TJ Maxx or Marshalls. And, if you buy basics with a few statement pieces and mix and match clothing you can turn a five piece wardrobe into a 20 piece wardrobe!

You might also enjoy reading:

Budgeting while living with a college roommate

Misconceptions about paying for college

Earn an "A" in personal finance this semester

Is a credit card a must for college students?

Budget decorating tips from the dorm

Renee McGruder is a former communications coordinator and grant writer at MMI.

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