Financial Tips For College Graduates - Setting Up Budgets & More | Living Rich With Coupons®Living Rich With Coupons®

Financial Tips For College Graduates – Setting Up Budgets & More

Financial Tips For College Graduates

I posted this 2 years ago when my oldest daughter Megan graduated college.  And, tomorrow, my other daughter Nikki graduates.  Wow, time just flies by.  As I was thinking of the things we have discussed drilled into her head over the years regarding finances, I remembered I had posted this article a couple of years ago.  I thought it would be nice to repost it today!

Coming out of college, for most kids, is an opportunity to start making some money.  Although, in most cases, it’s not that much,  it’s usually more then they have seen ever made in the years of working and schooling.  So, that extra money can easily turn into  early debt if they do not plan properly.

Here are some of things we have talked lectured to Nikki about and I wanted to share them with you as I feel as though these are things that all of us can use in our own lives.

1. Live Below Your Means

Living below your means seems so simple, however, if you are not careful,  within months it can morph into “Live Above Your Mean”.  A couple of months stretching it here or there dominoes into “I have no more money left for anything”.  You need to make choices and decisions based on how much you have to spend and spend nothing more.  Which leads me to the next point.

2. Keep A Budget and Stick To It!

Keeping a budget is one of the most important tips for long term financial success.  You should know where every single dollar is going to go.  Every dollar has to be earmarked for something.  From rent, groceries, gas, and savings.  And, at the end of the month you need to sit down and evaluate what you have spent, where it went and what the next month will look like.  Be sure to check out the How to Set Up Budget and Stick to It post for a ideas on setting up your own budget

3. Pay Cash

At this point in your life, if it hasn’t happened already, credit card companies will be bombarding you with credit card offers.  Do not take them.  You don’t need them nor do you want them.  And don’t listen to the next person who tells you that you need to build up your credit.  Nope, don’t listen.  In most cases you will be renting an apartment and this alone is a great way to build up your credit as long as you pay on time every single month.

When you put together your budget you should be setting it up in two ways.  The first is setting up cash envelopes for yourself.  This would include categories that you will use on a daily basis.  Here are some examples:

  • Groceries
  • Gas
  • Eating Out
  • Clothing
  • Haircut
  • Blow Money (money for extras)

Set up envelopes so that every paycheck a set amount goes into these envelopes.  Once you have used the amount in the envelope then you are done until the next paycheck. Takes planning but totally doable.

The next way would be a virtual set of envelopes. These are envelopes that you can set up in an excel spreadsheet, Quicken or if you have a bank account like PNC’s Virtual Wallet where they have it built into your banking.  What you will be doing is keeping the money in your bank account but it gets tagged for a particular budget item.  So let’s say you get paid every 2 weeks and your rent is $500.  Every paycheck you would set aside $250 toward your rent so that when it’s time to pay your rent there is already $500 waiting in your account.  You can also head over here to check out some basic budget items you will need to consider.

4. Paying Off Your Student Loans

If you have student loans then now would be the time to focus on those.  Find out how much you will need to pay per month.  If it is more then you can comfortably afford, you can call the loan companies to discuss your individual situations.  In most cases they will make adjustments to accommodate you.  But you must pay them on time and as much as you can comfortably fit into your budget.  Consider getting a part time job to get these paid off as soon as possible.

5. No You Don’t Deserve It

Following each and every one of the tips above requires discipline.  It’s easy to follow friends to dinner and then worry about paying for it later.  You can easily get yourself into bad habits that you will regret later.  The most important thing is to have the right attitude.  Learn to say no I just don’t have that extra $10 right now.  Don’t fall into the , “I worked hard and I deserve it” trap.  Because those pair of jeans ” that you worked hard and deserve to get”, well, next month they will be on the bottom of your closet and forgotten about.  So think long and hard before you spend.

Congratulations to all the college graduates!  You worked hard in college to land yourself a good job.  So don’t let that money just slip away by spending it foolishly.  Plan carefully and you will have financial freedom in years to come!


  • Donna

    Cindy… if I could add one thing, it would be “build an emergency fund right away, even before paying off student loan debt”. Stuff happens. Lines of credit can be an “emergency fund” of a sort, but so much better to have cash in hand when a tire goes flat or some other unexpected expense comes up.

    • Cindy

      Yes, awesome advice!

  • Laura D.

    Congratulations Nikki!!!! I hope you find happiness and success in your future :)

    Cindy, I don’t know if you have heard that a parent can “give ” their child a good or great credit rating. I learned this over a year ago from Suze Orman. If a parent has a good credit rating, they can get a credit card in their child’s name under an existing account (don’t give the card to them to use!) and the child will automatically receive the parent’s credit rating as their own. So, when the child pays for their own car insurance (YES you are billed according to your credit rating within the car insurance industry 1-5, 1 being the best), or applies for a car loan (YUP, the amount of interest you pay is variable now depending upon your credit rating), or in some instances now even a job or that great apartment, your child will greatly benefit.
    It used to be kids started out with a “blank” credit rating, now they are automatically being charged more because of their position in life. Not very fair, but true. Then, it is up to them to keep that great credit rating going for themselves!

    • Vanessa

      This is a great way to build your child’s credit! My parents did it for me and I am so so so so thankful. Anything I apply for, rented apartments included, I have great credit to show them. It’s a great way to step out on the right foot in the world. Now I just have to be sure not to screw it up now LOL

  • Andrea

    Good advice. My parents weren’t very good with money and never told me any of this. I leared the hard way. Credit card companies shouldn’t be allowed to give an 18 year old a credit card if they are still in high school and without a job.

  • Elizabeth

    My parents made poor choices with money, so I never had any advice about creating a budget or an emergency fund, but my fiancé and I now follow the ‘Total Money Makeover’ and it has changed the way we handle our money and in a few years we should have all our student loans, car loans, and our mortgage paid off in full! I wish I knew this info when I graduated college, I would have never bought the new car or used credit cards for anything.

  • christine

    Congrats to your daughter! She very lucky to have a mom who can teach her so much about couponing and saving, etc. Best of luck in your new career, Nikki!

  • christine

    I’m 21 and my best advice for us youngins is to join swagbucks, viggle, etc, (they all have computers and smartphones :P) and since all those rewards are giftcards, that’s how i’ll save up for something I “need.” it’s nice to earn a giftcard so i can still go out for lunch every once in a while.










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