Considering a Financial Resolution? Financial Tips for Recent Graduates Heading into the New Year

Published 4:43 pm Friday, December 9, 2016

By Drew Cloud, Student Loan Report

If you’re recently graduated and are like many millennials your age – you haven’t yet gotten your financial life in order. Not only do you likely have a massive amount of student loan debt, but you might also be struggling to find a well paying job – or any job. If money is causing you a significant amount of stress, there are some things you can do in order to survive and thrive financially even during this stressful time.

Here are my top 5 financial survival tips:

  1. Make More Money

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As a recent graduate, one of the main things that you should be focusing on is making more money. That might sound like obvious advice, after all, if you could make more money, you would be doing it already wouldn’t you?

But many grads have found ways to make extra cash by taking on second jobs or side hustles.  Some drive for Uber while others choose to start a small business taking wedding photographs or DJing at local parties. You could do freelance work or make crafts and sell them on Etsy.

If you can’t find a side job that you like, you might want to focus on improving your resume by taking on internships, getting additional credentials, or just doing a great job in your current position in order to get a promotion within your current company or a better paying job elsewhere.

The more quickly that you can increase your income, the easier it will be to take charge of your financial life.

 Get Your Spending Under Control

When you’re living on a very small salary, it can be very easy to spend beyond your means. Just because you can’t afford to buy nice clothes or go out every weekend doesn’t mean that you don’t want to do those things. Sometimes the temptation can be too much.

It’s important to create a budget so that you know how much money you have to spend each month in each spending category and to stick to that budget. If you really want to go out an extra night – then you should cut back in another area. If you can stick to your budget, you can avoid having to resort to credit cards and ensure that you don’t end up going into debt.

  1. Save an Emergency Fund

If you don’t have a lot of savings, it’s important that you put aside money for an emergency fund in order to cover unexpected expenses. That way when something happens you don’t have to resort to paying for things with your credit card.

Most experts recommend that you put aside enough to cover 3 to 6 months of your salary. While this might seem daunting, you can start by saving a little every month.

  1. Consider Student Loan Consolidation

If you have federal student loans, then you might want to consolidate your loans into one loan that will be easier for you to pay off. Student loan consolidation allows you to group all your loans together so that you only have one payment to make every month. The interest rate on this new loan will be the weighted average of your previous loans.

You can apply for an income based repayment plan, or extend the term length of your loans by doing so – which will reduce your monthly payments. While you will pay more over the life of your loan when you extend the term, it might help you make your payments over the short term. Filing the paperwork for consolidation isn’t difficult, and you shouldn’t pay a firm to handle it for you. You should ignore the many commercials and ads making big promises about consolidation.

  1. Consider Student Loan Refinancing

Refinancing your student loans is a great way to save money on interest and potentially pay off your student loans more quickly because you can often refinance your loans at a lower interest rate.

It’s also a good strategy for reducing your monthly payments. If you’re currently struggling to repay your loans, you can potentially refinance your private and federal loans over a longer period of time – which would reduce your monthly payments. Refinance lenders offer loans terms of 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. This would likely mean that you would pay more interest over the course of your loans because you’re taking longer to pay them off but the monthly savings could reduce your stress significantly.

To qualify to refinance your student loans you should have a good job and a good credit score – something that not all recent grads have. But you could always ask the co-signers on your current student loans to co-sign your refinanced student loan. Some refinance companies offer something called co-signer release – where they allow you to take your co-signer off the loan after you’ve made a certain number of on-time payments.

The Bottom Line:

If you’ve recently graduated and you’re struggling financially – you’re in the same boat as just about every other recent graduate. But by following these financial survival tips, you can put yourself on the path to greater financial security.