Are you a recent college graduate? If so, you’re probably in the process of navigating the “real world” by attempting to find a “grown up” job and moving out of your parents’ house for good. This time in your life is a period of great transition, and it’s only natural to want to hold on to your college behavior as long as possible. Unfortunately, many young professionals don’t have the funds or income to live as freely as they’d like.
As a recent college graduate myself, I’ve learned there are a few things you can do to stretch your dollars during this transition period.
With almost every purchase you make, it’s best to shop around for the best value possible. This means calculating ounce per dollar at the grocery store — don’t always go straight for the store brand — and doing your research before moving into an apartment, purchasing insurance or deciding on a cable provider. And don’t forget to take advantage of local restaurant deals.
Eat at home
This brings me to the next point: eat at home as much as possible. Why? Because you can use the money you save on pricey restaurant food to do the things you really want to do, like going to see a movie, taking that road trip you and your friends have been trying to plan for years or splurging on a new pair of shoes. Sure, eating meals at home involves grocery shopping (remember to shop around) and cooking, but your wallet — and your waistline — will thank you.
Cut out the extras
For most recent graduates, cutting out the extras is the toughest part of managing their personal finances. Think about it, though: if you cut out your daily latte, you’re saving approximately $5 each business day, which adds up to $25 each week, which adds up to $100 each month, which just might be enough to cover your monthly utility bill. Next time you want to get your nails done, buy a pint of ice cream at the grocery store or enjoy an extra drink at the bar, think about what else you can put that money toward. Additionally, think about the things you can easily do without at home. If you can make do with mediocre Internet, save money by purchasing the basic package rather than the high-speed connection. The same goes for cable; don’t buy the extended package if you can make do with basic cable and free online TV.
Unplug as much as possible
According to Money Crashers, going green makes it easy to lower your monthly utility bill. By doing these simple things, you’ll be able to cut a significant chunk of change out of your utility bill each month.
- Keep it warmer in your house or apartment when you’re not home.
- Wash your clothes in cold water.
- Pack your dishwasher full.
- Let your dishes air dry.
- Turn off the lights whenever you’re not in the room.
- Unplug small appliances (electronics chargers, toasters, coffee makers, etc.)
- Hand wash large pots, pans and dishes.
Adjusting to life on your own can be challenging, but these tips can help you manage your personal finances much more effectively.