Fiscal Responsibility for Recent Grads

{Image via}

{Image via}

Being a young adult in a big city is an expensive thing. Paying for rent, dinner with friends, and nights out adds up, and saving can get tricky sometimes. Making the transition from the college lifestyle to the working adult responsibility of handling your own budget can be very challenging at times, but it doesn’t have to be!

Read I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. It is my favorite personal finance book ever. I know that the title is kind of kitschy, but his advice is solid. Just  it and read it; you’ll be glad you did.

Invest in your 401K. Starting to invest early will yield more money long-term because compound interest is a beautiful, beautiful thing. If your employer matches your contributions, then with every paycheck for which you are not enlisted in your 401K, you are losing out on free money. Also, it is automatically deducted from your paycheck, so you don’t have to remember to make contributions.

Hint: You do not want to be this baby. {Image via}

Hint: You do not want to be this baby. {Image }

Negotiate your salary. The biggest potential for salary growth happens in your 20s, because that is the baseline for all future raises. When you receive an offer, your employer usually has a window of how much they are willing to pay you, and whatever they are offering you is generally on the lower end of that spectrum. Ask for more. Do some research on to find out what other people in your field are making, and then ask for a comparable amount.

Get a credit card. Credit history is a very important thing. Having a strong credit history is important because it will get you better rates on loans – and because when you apply for a job or an apartment, your credit history will be assessed to gauge your financial responsibility. If you don’t have a credit history, it may be difficult for you to get a credit card through an online application, but you can usually get one through your bank. With all that said, once you get a credit card, make sure that you only charge on it what you will be able to pay off at the end of the month. Credit card debt is not a good idea. P.S. – you can get a free credit report once a year through

Automate your savings. Allocate a certain percentage of your income towards savings – even if it’s only $50 a month, that’s better than nothing. Set up your direct deposit so that money is automatically deposited into both your savings and checking accounts. While you’re at it, get a high yield savings account. I use CapitalOne 360, but Ally and American Express also provide a similar service. High yield savings accounts are offering around .8% interest rates right now, whereas traditional bank savings accounts offer around .05%, if that.

Take public transportation. Cabs can really add up. You think, “Oh, it’s only $10.” But if its “only $10” a few times a week, that can add up very quickly. Become familiar with your city’s public transportation options, and don’t forget about walking! It’s a great way to get some exercise in, and it is totally free. The exception: if it’s late at night and you’re alone, make the splurge. Your safety is worth WAY more than $10.

Go to events with free food. Being young in a big city, you probably have friends who work in various industries. Find out when they are going to networking happy hours, seminars, or briefings, or when their office is hosting something, and get involved. These events are goldmines for free food (and sometimes free cocktails!). As an added bonus, they serve a great way to meet new people or learn about new things.


Grocery Shop. Going out all the time is not cheap. At all. Go grocery shopping and bring your lunch to work. An easy time-saving trick is to just double the portion of whatever you make for dinner and bring the leftovers to work. If you are worried about missing out on the social aspect of going out to dinner, host a potluck. And if you went to college, you are familiar with pregaming . . . which is still a thing once you graduate.

Most importantly, you need to have priorities. Don’t feel guilty when you treat yourself to that now-on-sale dress you’ve been dreaming about for months, to the fancy grown-up cocktail at the new bar down the street, or to that book you’ve been meaning to read. When you do, just make some adjustments to your monthly budget so that you are spending less in other areas. At the end of the day, as long as you are spending less than you make, you are doing okay. 


  • Share on: