The problem with graduates is that they have all the theoretical knowledge, but no practical experience. More often than not college students do not know the most important tip: how to survive financially.
Here are five financial tips for university graduates:
Number One – Set a Budget
Now that college is over and you are paying for your own way, you need to set a budget. The easiest way to create a budget is to collect all your till slips –petrol, food, rent and clothing- and organise them into a folder. Once you have copies of all your expenses – ask your parents/guardians if you do not have a record of payments – and create a spread sheet.
This spread sheet should have your income – after tax – at the top and then list all your expenses below. Remember, list all fixed expenses – rent – before variable ones – chocolate bars and chips -. The reason for this is so that if you find that you need to cut down your expenses, then you will be able to cut down correctly and without missing a month’s rent.
Number Two – Start a Retirement Fund
The next step is to take a portion of your monthly income and set the amount aside for retirement. The easiest way is to open up a savings/retirement fund and transfer a fixed amount into this account on a monthly basis.
Remember, while retirement is 45-50 years away, the more you save now, the less stress you place on yourself at a later stage in life.
Number Three – Keep Track of Expenses
Once you have created your budget and made provisions for retirement, then next step is to keep track of your expenses. While taking your average monthly expenses gives you an indication on the amount of money that you are able to spend, the problem is that unexpected expenses occur – the car breaks down – or the price of items – food or petrol – increase and you need to adjust your budget to allow for the additional expenses.
Number Four – Be Careful With Credit
The most common mistake that college students make is buying items on credit. Credit is easy to accumulate and often difficult to get rid of. Ensure that you watch how you spend your money and steer clear of buying items – which you cannot afford – on credit.
Number Five – Set Financial Goals
The fifth financial tip for college students is to set clear short, medium and long term financial goals. Have a savings plan and ensure that this plan challenges you to save the maximum every month, without being impossible to attain.
Use these five tips to help you make ends meet. Remember: set a budget, keep track of expenses, start a retirement fund, avoid debt and set clear financial goals.
I am Greg Jones, a personal financial advisor and consolidation loan specialist. When I left college I did not know how to set up a budget or budget for all my expenses. I ended up living off breadcrumbs for a few months until I got some advice from an old professor on setting financial goals and budgeting correctly. I am now able to give my children the knowledge and help them avoid the struggles I faced.