Monday, February 6, 2012

College Grad Message on Finances

I know I said keep your part-time job and live with your parents, but your finances aren't all peaches and fuzz like high school. As a recent college grad, I've learned your savings will only go so far. Your parents will give you parameters, whether its paying your car insurance, phone bill, groceries, or all three. Time for another 5 tips!

1. Try not to blow all your money on alcohol.
You're back in your hometown with friends and family, and you're all 21! You want to go out, meet up, rehash the past constantly. Well, it'll add up and your parents aren't going to feed your drinking addiction. So unless you're a hot girl who gets drinks for free, it's time to cut back. This means # of drinks as well as # of times you go out.

2. Count your monthly spending.
Oh the groans and moans. But seriously, at least sit down and look at your finances. Most banks even lay it out for you. They show you how much you budgeted and how much you overspent. When I looked at why I was dipping into the red every month, I found out that my part-time job really doesn't pay enough when gas is figured into it. Because its the slow retail season, I make maybe $40 more than I pay for gas each month. That's not near enough to pay for groceries or my credit card bill, and I was partying on top of that and blew away all my seasonal money.

3. Make a budget.
This is a finance tip sheet so stop the boohoo-ing or GTFO. It's not hard. Start with how much money you have, how much you make monthly, and how much you have in savings. Then subtract every necessary monthly spendatures like prescriptions, doctors appointments, payments (credit card, insurance, phone), gas, and the little groceries that you always buy. However much you have left should probably go into savings for emergencies, the irresponsible but infrequent night out, or (as you probably hope to have) a deposit on your own place. Remember: You have to pay back loans in six months. What happens if (in the semi-likely event) you're still haven't found a full-time job?

b. Negative? Quitting as the best option - If you're income is in the negative and you are not saving, you want to consider picking up a second job or switching part-time jobs completely while you look for that full-time position.  It's what I had to do. 

*It's easier to get a job when you have a job than to be unemployed and looking.

4. Talk to your bank.
PNC has the Virtual Wallet geared toward college students or those FOB graduates like me. I can manage most of my planning online: pay bills, transfer funds, set a budget etc. Ask about different savings methods and programs. Open a CD: You put away money to gain interest over a definitive period of time, and you aren't allowed to touch it until the time is up. Talk to them about paying back loans, consolidations, and managing debt. Money is their life. They know it.

5. Talk to your parents.
Okay, yeah. Admit it. They've been around the block. They pay for things all day. While we got care packages, they got bills. Even if they didn't go to college, they'll have insight on payment plans, loans, and spending. Extending a hand to them and acknowledging their "superior" experiences is not only respectful, but it will butter them up. Maybe they'll throw the stray Ben Franklin your way.

*If they suck at finances, water getting turned off every three months, learn from their mistakes until you can get out.

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