You’ve just graduated college and have no idea how to manage your money. Most colleges don’t teach their students how to properly budget, invest, or save. In that case, you’ll need to do your own research so that you can have success with your money for the long term.
Starting early on your journey to improve your money management skills will put you in a better position in the future. Especially when coming out of college with a large chunk of student debt, you’ll want to get ahead on this process.
You can choose from a variety of ways to manage your money. Whether you choose to utilize them all, or use just a few, you’ll find them to be very helpful. Using the following tips will help start your new view on how to handle the money you have.
Determine Where to Invest Your Money
Investing may be a foreign term to many post graduates. Unless you attended a finance-focused school or program, you may be unaware of where to put your extra money. There are endless ways to invest your money and different choices that may be ideal for each stage in your life. As a new graduate you’ll want to consider a few of these options.
If you haven’t already set up a savings account, this is your time to do so. This is an easy way to set your money aside for future emergencies, big trips, or just to keep yourself accountable by not spending all your money at once.
Saving accounts earn interest every month, and although it’s a very miniscule amount, it adds up. A high-yield savings account earns more interest on your money and would be beneficial to have if you’re hoping to reach your financial goals faster.
At some point in your life, you’ve heard someone talk about stocks and how successful they can be at growing your money quickly. Although there’s a lot of risk involved, it’s a risk you may want to take.
There are several ways to utilize the stock market, including simply investing in individual stocks or putting your money into mutual funds. The risk factor is a bit higher when focusing on individual stocks, but if you’ve done the right research and feel it’s well worth the risk, you could earn an abundance of money here.
As for mutual funds, this is a way to invest small amounts into several different companies within the mutual fund of your choice. This leads to less risk and typically grows a bit slower than when investing in an individual stock.
High dividend stocks also yield some interest since you earn a small percentage of each company’s earnings that you chose to invest in. These dividends are typically paid out on a quarterly basis. As with all investments, keep in mind that there are risks.
Since crypto has come to be one of the most popular investments, many young investors lean toward this option. Not as many people are well versed in investing in cryptocurrencies, so if this is the route you choose to take, do the proper research.
A cryptocurrency is basically a digital coin that holds currency and can be traded in for cash. They can be both exchanged or mined. Many companies are now accepting crypto as a way of payment for their products or services. The value of cryptocurrencies go up and down somewhat like the stock market, so there are definite risks involved.
Find Ways to Earn Passive income
If you’ve graduated with or without a job lined up, you may also choose to find ways to earn passive income. This specific type of income can be earned from investments like the ones stated prior, rental income, or your choice of a side hustle.
Real estate investing is an extremely lucrative way of earning passive income. Especially in today’s market, you can earn a large amount off of the property you initially invest in. There are a few routes you can take when investing in real estate. Two examples are flipping houses for a larger resale value, or renting your property out to earn additional monthly income.
To start this process, you’ll need to ask yourself, “how much house can I afford?” It’s beneficial to prepare your finances prior to making a large investment. Once this is determined, you can get started on making offers on properties of your choice. Since the past few years have been noted to be a seller’s market, keep in mind that it may take some time to find yourself with a property.
Once you’ve closed on a property, you can choose between the rental route or flipping for resale. If you’re looking for additional monthly income, choosing to renovate (if need be) and renting your property out can earn you over or double your mortgage payment.
Choosing a popular area where rentals go fast can give you leeway to rent your property out for more. This way you’ll use that check to pay off your mortgage and leave you with the extra cash to save or spend on what you want.
The other course you can take is by purchasing a fixer-upper and flipping it for a large profit. Now this may take more of an effort, but with proper time management skills you can get it done relatively quickly. The difference here is that once you sell the property, you’ll be receiving a large sum of money at once instead of spread out throughout the course of the rental period.
Side hustles are considered to be something you do outside of your normal work hours to earn some extra income. Choose the side hustle that’s right for you. There are endless opportunities here, and if you pick the right one this can be a fun way to make extra money. Some ideas include blogging, freelance work, ecommerce, tutoring, or joining a delivery service.
There are people who are able to accomplish this by adding only a couple extra hours of work a week, while others dedicate 10+ hours a week. If successful, they may turn into a legitimate part-time job! If you have trouble finding a side hustle, consider your own passions. Find something of interest and run with it.
Start Retirement Planning
You may think that retirement is far off and there’s no need to start saving for it, but in reality starting to plan for retirement at an early age is most beneficial. The benefits of investing your money in these accounts is that they grow tax-free. There are several ways and levels of retirement planning as a young adult.
Your job may offer a 401(k) plan, which is where you invest a portion of your paycheck and they typically match a percentage of that to be invested into your retirement account. If your company offers this, it is crucial that you take advantage of it. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll save up once you hit the age of retirement.
Another retirement account option is a Roth IRA. This can be set up on your own through an investment company of your choice. The money you input gets invested into stocks and mutual funds that you choose. You’re allowed by the IRS to transfer up to $6,000 a year into your Roth IRA and it’s highly recommended that you do so.
Keep in mind that once you retire you likely won’t be generating any further income. You’ll be heavily relying on your investments and the money you have in savings. The earlier you start planning for retirement, the better place you’ll be in when the time comes.
Learn How to Budget
Acquiring the skills to budget is crucial at a young age. After graduation you typically have student loans to pay off and new bills you didn’t have while in college. Learning how to budget for your specific income and monthly expenses will help you with your spending habits.
Start by creating a money priority list. Incorporate all the essential bills into this list such as rent, utility payments, groceries, and gas. Once you have these written down you can continue on with a budget tracker.
Budget trackers are simple to make. Start with your monthly or weekly income and subtract those expenses that were listed as money priorities. Once those are taken care of, see what other expenses you may have, like subscriptions and memberships. After those are subtracted, you’re left with money you can choose to save or spend on things like going out to eat, shopping, or other fun activities.
All in all, figuring out how to organize and budget your money will leave you in a better position for the future. This will teach you to value your money earned and you’ll most likely end up wanting to save more of it.
Work on Your Credit
Learning what your credit is and its importance is something that should be done once you start earning and spending money. Your credit is recorded by a specific score and will determine how certain financial situations go for you in the future.
When applying for a mortgage, the lender will take a look at your credit score and that will determine how much money you’ll be loaned. The higher the score the better, but each loan requires a different minimum credit score. It’s ideal to have a score higher than 620 when looking to apply for a mortgage.
There are several ways to keep your credit score in check. One very important thing to be aware of is how you manage your credit cards. If you can, pay off your credit card in full each month; that’s the ideal situation. Also, try not to apply for new credit cards too often. Sticking with one or two is fine, but once you start applying for store credit cards left and right you may see a drastic decline in your credit score.
Just like credit cards, pay your bills on time! This can highly affect your credit if you don’t make this a priority. To help yourself, you can set up automatic payments for most if not all of your bills. This way you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to pay your bills on time again.
Final Thoughts: Money Tips for When You Graduate College
Finances are a tough subject to grasp especially when you don’t have the prior knowledge. Take some time post-graduation to learn how to manage your money properly and remind yourself of the following tips to stay on track:
- Investing your Money
- Earning Passive Income
- Retirement Planning
- Learning How to Budget
- Working on Your Credit
Weigh your options and find the path that works best for you. Whether you choose to heavily rely on investing or plan to become a pro at budgeting and retirement planning, each option separate or combined will set you up for much success.
Getting a grip on your money management skills sooner than later will benefit you for the future. Keep in mind, you can take advantage of these tips while also having fun with your money as you live your life.