College can be a tough but fun time of learning more about yourself, your desired career field, and life itself.
If you've been working your way through college and/or already have your own place, you're likely already familiar with many of the financial responsibilities that come with being on your own.
If you've had the luxury of just focusing on your education, once college is over it can be quite the shock being dumped into the real world of financial responsibility even if you manage to immediately land a good job.
I remember getting that first "real" job and being excited at all the things I'd be able to afford now, not really taking into mind all the responsibilities I had to pay for first.
Luckily, after the excitement wore off I quickly made a plan for myself so the damage wasn't too bad.
Here are 5 tips for keeping your finances in check after college, or just starting out on your own, instead of digging yourself further into debt.
1. Set up a budget and stick to it. I simply cannot stress how important it is to have a solid budget and actually stick to it.
With a properly set up budget, you will be sure to have all your must-haves (like rent) covered while seeing how much you have left over to save and spend on extras like pricey coffee and giving back.
If you stick to the budget, you should very rarely have to worry about unexpected overdraft fees and the like.
Remember to take into account items you may not pay for monthly like property taxes or car insurance and set aside money for them monthly to make the payments less painful.
You don't have to budget down to the penny, but you definitely want to be aware of where your money is going.
2. Keep your debts in check. Going hand in hand with tip #1, keeping your long and short-term debts in check can make or break your financial future for years to come, especially if you'll soon have student loans to start paying off.
Credit cards are a great way to begin building your credit, but you must keep yourself from charging up to the limit on items you don't really need.
The general rule of thumb for credit building is to not charge more than 30% of your credit limit.
This is while making purchases and payments monthly. You don't have to keep a balance on the card each month.
In fact, it's better if you don't so you're not paying interest if you don't have to.
When you get that first nice job it can also be tempting to buy a nice new expensive car.
But, as with any other loan, be sure of what your monthly payment will be, other expenses that come with it like insurance and maintenance, and that you can actually afford it comfortably, especially if something happens like losing your job.
3. Think about the future. You may be thinking, "I just got out of college - haven't I done enough thinking about my future?"
Well, not really, no. Do you want to move someday? Maybe go on a nice vacation?
Perhaps you want to continue furthering your education or have certifications you'll need to pay for. Do you want to buy your own house one day? Afford a more reliable car?
Perhaps you're in a serious relationship and may get married or have kids one day. All of these are things to think about for the future and plan and start budgeting and saving for now.
4. Be prepared for a rainy day. Life happens. It's that simple.
It's hard to expect the unexpected but there are times when the car will break down, the water heater decides to break and flood the house, etc.
There are also the more serious issues that can arise like homes burning down or getting seriously ill or injured.
If you aren't at least somewhat prepared for these times you can suffer from long-term financial setbacks.
Yes, there are insurances you may be investing in to help with these things, but keep in mind sometimes you must pay for these issues first and then wait for reimbursement.
5. It's never to early to start saving for retirement. In our 20s and 30s it's easy to forget about saving for retirement.
Even though I hope to not have to work well into my golden years, I have spent most of my 20s thinking I'll just worry about it later, but it's really something that is never too early to start saving for.
If the economy has taught us anything in the past several years it's that we can't always count on investments, pensions and the like.
The only real way to be prepared is to start saving now for tomorrow - or years from now.
I realize a lot of these money tips be overwhelming and confusing just starting out on your own after college.
Honestly, it can still be overwhelming for those of us that have been on our own for a while and are looking to start getting really serious about our finances as well.
Sometimes we need help getting these things figured out, which is why you may want to seek out the advice from a financial advisor who deals with these sorts of things daily.
What are some ways you plan or things you did to keep your finances in check after college?