Managing money in a post-grad life

“Welcome to the Real World.”

The word ‘budget’ may send chills up students’ spines – especially if they are approaching graduation. But if students take the appropriate steps, managing their finances could be easier than imagined, said Peter Bielagus, financial coach and consultant.

Bielagus said students who start planning before graduation will be more prepared once they have to manage their own finances. He gave The Hatchet four ways students can control their budgets, and we found two suggestions from banks about how to stay above the bottom line.

Pay down your debts

This is the first step toward freeing up cash for financial protection. Students should pay as much of their debt off each month as they are able to in order to reduce the total balance. Student loans should be the first priority.

Adopt a new habit

Saving. Reaching financial goals relies heavily upon consistency, Bielagus said. A good way to get into the savings habit is to make sure students pay themselves first and then pay everyone else. Basically, extracting a portion of their paychecks and stashing it away in a savings account can give students the financial standing to buy a car or rent an apartment in the future.

Consider microbudgeting

Bielagus suggests students budget by the day. A daily budget will lead to consistency in spending if students stick to a strict schedule. He suggests $20 a day for food and entertainment.

Use a new technique

Pegging. This strategy gets its name from putting pegs on a city’s map to outline the locations for the best bargains. Bielagus suggests students ask themselves the following questions: The cheapest dry cleaning? Restaurants with half-priced appetizers? Best happy hour deals? Maintaining current lifestyles is possible if students know the best bargains in town.

Creating a plan is essential

Finding out how much students spend is the key in the planning process. Students should take a week and write down everything they spent money on, even if they are not technically footing the bill. For many, Mom and Dad are also paying students’ cell phone bills, health insurance and shopping – something students will be paying for in the years after graduation. Making sure they incorporate all of their current and potential expenses will give students a better idea of how much money they spend now.

Use the 60 percent solution

This is the idea that debts, taxes, food, shelter, clothing, and bills should be paid from 60 percent of your total income. The remaining 40 percent should be devoted to emergency savings, short-term goal savings and entertainment money.

Like millions of college students, graduates may soon be overwhelmed with the idea that Mom and Dad will not be sending checks every month. However, with the implementation of these tips, students will be able to manage their finances without too many calls to the parents.

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