Written By Franklin V on Monday, April 25, 2011 | 8:52 AM
100 Essential Money Rules for Life After College
Now that you’ve graduated and have an actual paycheck to manage, the money rules have changed. And just as you have more money to spend, you also have more responsibilities. Here are 100 essential money rules for life after college. General Change your attitude about money by following these rules.
Keep your perspective: You aren’t going to be living at the same level as your parents, so understand that it will take time to build up your financial security.
Pay with cash: By paying with cash, you’ll literally be able to see where your money goes, making it harder to part with.
Record your spending: Be completely honest with your record, even if it gets ugly. A budget can also reduce your impulse spending.
Pay in full: Instead of charging something you really want, save up for it and pay in full.
Save receipts: Saving your receipts is an easy way to track money and make sure you don’t overdraw your account.
Be frugal with your information: Avoid personal identity theft by keeping up with financial statements, credit cards, and anti-virus for your online banking. Don’t give out your Social Security number unnecessarily, either.
Talk to your parents: If you don’t have a job that pays enough, talk to your parents about which bills they’ll cover until you can, instead of just letting them send you money every month.
Start a calendar budget: Organize your budget by planning out an annual schedule for when things need to be fixed, when bills are due, when you’ll take a vacation, and more.
Buy generic: Save on everything by buying the generic version.
Debt and Loans Get help paying off debt and student loans here.
Get your credit report: Get a credit report and evaluate all of the debt you owe. Make a list of any amounts you’re unsure of and contact those creditors.
Save 10%: Take 10% out of your paycheck for savings.
Do it your way: Save on recipes, fashion trends, and everything else by tweaking the original version and finding your own, cheaper way to do things.
Squirrel away your change: Empty out your wallet of loose change every week and put it in a jar or piggy bank. You’ll quickly save up enough to cash in the coins for a movie ticket, date, or extra savings.
Recycle: Recycle your lunch bags, plastic grocery bags, and other throw-away products by reusing them in new ways.
Be a smarter apartment shopper: Don’t buy or rent an apartment that’s way out of your price range. Consider factors like proximity to your work, energy efficiency and natural light, HOA fees, and parking fees.
Get a budgeting partner: Find a friend who needs to budget, too, and you can help each other stick to a savings plan.
Set a goal: Set a savings goal amount for yourself so that it’s easier to stick to your budget.
Travel on the cheap: Bunk with friends, carpool and buy food from grocery stores instead of eating out to travel on the cheap.
Decide what you’re budgeting for: Whether it’s a trip with friends, a newer car, or a new dress, having a reason to budget will make the process less painful.
Allow for tiny splurges: Celebrate the fact that you stuck to your budget each week by treating yourself to a special pint of ice cream or fancier bottle of wine on the weekend.
Write everything down: Even if you went over your budget, don’t ignore it: recording everything will help you do better next time.
Make allowances: Especially in the beginning, you’ll have to make allowances for mistakes and overspending.
Consider fixed and variable expenses: Fixed expenses include regular bills while variable expenses include entertainment, gas and food. This section will need more attention when coming up with a budget.
Follow the 60% Solution: This system means that you devote 60% of your pre-tax income to essentials. The rest, including savings, should be divided up in 10% chunks.
Investing Get your feet wet with investing by considering these introductory tips.
Open a Roth IRA: It’s never too early to start saving for retirement, and this system is easy to follow each month.
Play with stocks first: Try out trading by reading about your options and experimenting with fake trading first.
Rebalance and reevaluate: If your investment takes a hit, reevaluate your plan and the economy to come up with a new system for saving.
Settle for good investments: Since you’re still young, you have a while to build up your investments and learn about the market. Settle for low-stress, simple investments that get your feet wet.
Ask about 401(k)s: Ask your employer about profit sharing and other company investment benefits.
Lifestyle Your post-college lifestyle is full of benefits and challenges. Learn how to live within your budget here.
Learn when to say no: You aren’t living on the same budget as all of your friends, so you don’t have to feel pressured to keep up with their lifestyle. It’s okay to turn down trips to Vegas or even an extra happy hour that week if you’ve reached your limit.
Learn how to keep your job: By becoming more engaged, personable and indispensable to your boss, you’ll find greater job security and maybe a raise.
Negotiate your salary: Once you’ve researched the market, your boss and your own skill level, negotiate your salary.
Time is money, and vice versa: Think of cost as time spent working. For instance, if you want to buy a couch that costs $500, and you earn $20/hour, that means you’ll be paying for the couch with nearly a week’s work.
Throw out credit card offers: Now that you have a job and have built up a little credit, you’ll start receiving more and more offers from banks. Save yourself the temptation by throwing them in the trash.