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Top 5 Budget Tips for Recent College Grads

  • Posted on June 20, 2023

Key Takeaways:

  • Track your spending for a few months to see where your money is going.
  • Save up for emergencies. 
  • Put a little something aside for retirement. 
  • Use credit cards responsibly and pay your bills on time to build a good credit history.
  • Set a financial goal like buying a car or having your own apartment.

Congratulations on reaching a major milestone in your life! As you enter your new world of work, establishing good financial habits can help you get where you want to go and avoid common pitfalls along the way. Use these five tips to create a budget you can stick to.

1. Get a Handle on Your Expenses

Track every penny you spend for a few months to see what your average monthly expenses are. Start separating necessary expenses from nice-to-have expenses you could cut back on if you need to. Necessary expenses may include:
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Transportation
  • Groceries
  • Student loan payments
Nice-to-have expenses may include:
  • Dining out
  • Entertainment
  • Vacations
  • Clothing and furniture beyond what you need

2. Save up for Emergencies

In addition to your usual monthly expenses, expect the unexpected. In any given month, you may find yourself with an extra bill for a car repair, dental problem, or dash to the vet. Having an emergency fund handy can save you significant stress when you come up short.

3. Put a Little Something Aside for Retirement

Retirement may seem eons away, but what you do now will absolutely affect how comfortable you’ll be when the time comes. If you have an employer who offers a 401k, consider it, even if you can’t contribute very much—and especially if they match your contributions.

4. Establish Your Credit History

As a recent college grad, you’ll probably be swamped with applications for credit cards. Approach credit cards as a way to demonstrate your creditworthiness versus a way to spend money you don’t have. Pay your balance down every month and try not to use more than 30% of the credit you have available. This will help you establish a good credit history you can tap into later.

5. Set a Financial Goal

It can be way easier to develop good financial habits and avoid the temptation to spend unnecessarily when you have an end goal in mind. What’s yours? It could be:
  • Buying a car
  • Having your own apartment
  • Affording your first home
  • Pursuing more education
  • Supporting family members
  • Taking a vacation

We’re here to help at every stage of life. If you have questions or need one-on-one support with your goals, stop by your local branch or schedule an appointment online.

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