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7 personal finance tips for new graduates

There’s a general consensus that new graduates are broke. And rightly so with students graduating with an average of almost $30K in student loan debt and 1 out of every 20 college graduates being unemployed. When I graduated from college in 2016, I certainly fell into both of these statistics. So I wanted to share the seven personal finance tips and positive money mindsets that helped me.

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7 personal finance tips for new graduates

1. Prioritize personal finance education

Learning about personal finance helped me figure out how to be smart about my expenses and taught me how to prioritize my financial goals. It’s one of the reasons I was able to pay off my student loans in less than five months.

2. Set aside fun money 

After learning about personal finance, I set extremely aggressive goals for myself. This meant that I chose to put most of the money I earned toward achieving those goals and it often meant skipping out happy hours with friends and coworkers to go straight home and cook dinner. Surprise, surprise…I didn’t feel like I was enjoying my life after college. So I set aside a small budget to slow down and have a little fun. When i was trying to pay off my student loans, this looked like something as small as $5 a month to sit at a coffee shop and people watch or have coffee with a friend.

3. Pay for fun things in cash 

The way that people pay for things feels different when they pay with cash than when they pay with a credit card. This is because when you pay with cash, you are more aware of how much money is leaving you.

4. Use a credit card strategically

Dave Ramsey doesn’t think people should use credit cards. I disagree. I love getting cash back on things. That said, it can be very dangerous (see point above on the difference between paying with cash vs card). The easiest way for me to separate things was to pay for living expenses with a credit card.

5. Make a list of big-ticket items & put it everywhere

I am big into therapeutic shopping. When I have a bad day, I like to walk around my favorite shops. I end up purchasing something because it gives me the rush of a quick win.

So in order to combat this, I made a list of big-ticket items that I really wanted and put it everywhere as a reminder.

Then when I had a bad day and felt like going shopping, it was easy to look at that list of big-ticket items and say, “would I rather pay $30 to get this super cute top that goes with everything? Or would I rather pass on this top so I can get a little closer to buying a ticket home?”

Sometimes the answer to that question was to get the cute top (and that’s okay)…but it certainly got easier to say no and I hit my financial goals a lot faster.

6. It’s okay to invest in my growth

Thanks to the minimalism trend and my semester abroad, I became very aware of how much stuff I had and how happy I was while studying abroad despite not having all of the material things of home. So I learned to spend my money on things that would give me something more than the feeling of excitement of something new that fades with time. Here are some of my favorite investments:

  • Audible – for the price of half of a dinner out with friends, I could purchase a book that was read to me and lasted about a month. I only listened during commutes to and from work.
  • Skillshare – This was actually one of the first, big-ticket investments in myself that I made. And it SUPER helpful from a career development standpoint…I learned the skills I used to get my first job.
  • A domain name – I took what I learned from skillshare and implemented it on the first blog I created. This helped me create a portfolio that later helped me land my first job. You can learn more about what is needed to create a portfolio here.

7. There are other ways to enjoy your friends’ company

You don’t have to go out to brunch with your friends to enjoy their company. You can go grocery shopping and meal prep with each other or go for a walk to catch up.

What now?

Times are tough right now. I get it because I’ve been there. These seven personal finance tips and positive money mindsets helped me look at my financial situation differently. And I encourage you to pick one to focus on. Then reflect on how your money mindset changes.

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