If you have recently graduated from college, now is the time to take control of your financial situation. Many college graduates have little or no idea of how best to keep track of their money, especially if the temptation to blow a paycheck proves too strong. Fortunately, you do not have to be a financial expert to have a good understanding of how to keep control of your finances.
Set up a savings account
While it is likely that most of your income will be spent on rent and bills, you should aim to pay as much of the surplus into a savings account. Ideally, this should be a savings account that gives you easy access to your money in case you need to use it at a later date. If you are confident that you will not need to touch the money for a set period (for example, six months or one year), you can “lock away” your money, which often offers a more attractive interest rate than instant access savings accounts. Sometimes, these accounts may specify that you cannot make a withdrawal during the set period, or that you will lose interest for the month in which you make a withdrawal.
Look for a savings account that offers a good rate of interest, as this will obviously mean that you will see maximum reward for your savings. If you already have a savings account, you might want to consider switching your money to one that has a better interest rate. In either situation, make sure that there are no hidden conditions attached to the savings account or interest rate. For example, some savings accounts offer a very attractive interest rate to new customers for the first year only. After this, you are demoted to an interest rate that is average, at best. If you already have a savings account, you might want to consider switching your money to one that has a better interest rate.
Tax-free savings accounts are the best option, as nothing is deducted from your interest. Unfortunately you cannot put an unlimited amount of money into a tax-free savings account. They are capped, meaning that you can pay in a certain amount of money per tax year. While the government is keen to encourage as many people as possible to have savings, they do not want to be waiving tax too much as they gain nothing from it.
Drawing up a budget is a handy way to see whether your outgoings are in line with your income. This might seem obvious, but many people are shocked to find that outgoings such as rent, bills, food and socialising far exceed their monthly income. Listing all of your outgoings is also a good way to pinpoint exactly where your money is going each month. It is often the little things that add up the most. Buying a coffee on the way to work can soon cost you several hundred dollars over the course of a year.
Once you have worked out where your money is going, look at any areas where you can cut down on frivolous or unnecessary spending. Most people will find at least one area in which they can cut down on their expenditure. It is vital that you stick to this plan if you want to see an improvement in your finances.
Many college graduates are afraid to sit down and work out how best to take control of their finances, but it is something that should be done to avoid sliding into debt. With a little bit of research or help from a financial advisor, you can seek out the best ways to make your money work for you.