Written by guest blogger: Jackie Waters. Jackie is passionate about sustainability and simplicity. She runs hyper-tidy.com, providing advice on being…Hyper Tidy!
Graduating college is a huge milestone in anyone’s life, but it can also be a little scary. Where do you go from here? How do you start building savings while you’re looking for your dream job? Those questions can be overwhelming if you let them, so the first step is to sit down and write out a plan. Think about your goals and how you can shape them; are you just ready to plan for the immediate future, or do you want to take steps to create a retirement fund? It’s never too early to start thinking about such things; in fact, depending on your current income, you’re going to need an estimated 70-90% of what you make now to maintain your standard of living after you retire. That means a lot of saving and planning, so sit down and work out a budget so that you can begin putting away money weekly or bi-weekly.
Here are some of the best tips on how to get creative and start planning for the future:
Ask for help
You don’t have to do all the planning for your future alone; when family members ask about potential holiday or birthday gifts, tell them you’d love a contribution to add to your own savings account rather than a store-bought gift. Your loved ones will appreciate knowing that their gift will go to a worthy cause, and you’ll have a little extra to sock away for the future.
Work out a budget
This can be tricky if you’re just starting out with a new career, as you may not be completely familiar with what your income will be like just yet. That’s okay; estimate what your monthly income will be and add up all your expenses–car payment, insurance, rent or mortgage, utilities, etc.–to see what you have leftover. If it’s not enough to cover groceries and gas, it’s time to start thinking about ways to make a little extra cash. If you have experience in accounting, consider doing some freelance work during tax season (your tax situation will be a bit different as your client will have to use 1099 software to get you the proper form); if you’re skilled at something creative, like making jewelry or art, start an online shop to sell your wares. You can also use social media to garner interest in babysitting or tutoring jobs, as well. Having extra money means you can focus on making your way toward your dream job.
Say no to credit
While it’s a good idea to build up your credit for big purchases–such as a home or a car–it’s important to stay as debt-free as possible. This means saving up for that television instead of opening up a line of credit at the store, and only using your credit cards when you absolutely have to. Relying on them for everyday purchases is a good way to get deep into debt, which will only hinder your ability to save for the future.
Pay off your debts
Many of us are burdened with student loans that have astronomical interest rates, so, if possible, start paying them down as soon as possible. Add an extra twenty-five or fifty dollars to your payment when you can, and don’t put it off because you don’t think you can manage a payment one particularly tight month; instead, pinch those pennies in other areas. Start taking your lunch to work rather than relying on fast food, and carpool when you can to save on gas.
Saving and planning for the future doesn’t have to be a stressful event. Start small and figure out what your goals are; the rest will fall into place with a little preparation.