Five Financial Tips for New College Grads

With diplomas in hand and caps thrown in the air, graduation signifies the end of one unforgettable chapter and the beginning of a new journey. What’s important for students to consider with graduation is that there is a new level of independence and financial responsibility to attend to.

From finding a new place to live to purchasing weekly groceries, newly independent graduates must live a frugal lifestyle and determine the right budget to live. Many graduates can no longer rely on family members to help. It’s time to take financial matters into your own hands.

Here are a few strategies for college grads to start a financially stable lifestyle:

1. Know your priorities. Four dollars for a frappuchino each day is ridiculous. Buy a coffee maker and brew a fresh batch of coffee each morning instead. It’s important to find cheaper alternatives to everyday routines. Saving money is a No. 1 priority when you’re on your own. So, rather than spending $20 on dinner, try searching for new recipes online and create a delicious meal at home.

2. Budget Wisely. Take into account all the expenses involved with living on your own. This can be security deposits, rent, car payments and even professional attire to wear to those job interviews. It’s is essential to sit down and make a list of everything that requires money. By creating a budget, you can find out how much you can afford to spend in different categories each week.

3. Pay off student loans. The cost of tuition has risen tremendously in recent years. The average student debt owed by students who took out a loan was $25,250 for the Class of 2011, according to CNN. New graduates must pay close attention to when everything needs to be paid back before interest rates skyrocket. Focus on paying off loans before other expenses accumulate.

4. Have a savings account. You never know when that car engine is going to stall out or when you’re going to accidently break your phone, so it’s imperative to have money for emergencies. A savings account will come in handy because you want to avoid charging large fees onto a credit card account. About 60% of adults do not have savings set aside that can cover more than three months of expenses. It’s important to have these funds available when the unexpected happens.

5. Think about retirement. That’s right. It’s never too early to start thinking about retirement. There are free retirement calculators all over the web that can help you calculate how much needs to be saved each year in order to have a comfortable and enjoyable retirement. The average Social Security individual benefit is less than $15,000 a year, so waiting until your 40 something’s to save may be too late.

The financial experts at would like to congratulate the Class of 2012 on a job well done! We look forward to hearing your success stories!