After the excitement of graduation wears off and you settle into your new postcollege, independent life, you’ll quickly become aware of all the expenses necessary to live. You can make things easier on yourself, and help your paycheck go further, if you proactively plan for all the costs you might run into over the course of a year.
Start by taking a look at the Budgeting for the Life After Graduation worksheet. Note the expenses that apply to you, or that will apply to you after graduation. This budget covers a lot of different areas and will give you an idea of what kinds of expenses to expect when you are out on your own. When you’ve filled in the worksheet the best you can, you'll be better able to allocate your paycheck from your first job out of college.
Considerations for Your First Job
In addition to having an idea of where you would like to work after college, you also need to take into consideration where you will be living. Be sure to research the cost of living before you move to a new place and accept a job offer. You will want to make sure that your new salary will cover the cost of living, and allow for savings!
If you know what an average starting salary is in your field of choice, you can get an idea of how your finances will look when you start your job. (Remember: Your net salary, or actual take-home pay, is your gross salary minus taxes, insurance, and other employee costs.) You can get a good idea of the average starting salary in your field by doing some quick research on the Internet.
The Job Search
Be sure to allocate funds in your budget for your post-college job search. If you don't have a job already lined up for after college, consider taking a temporary job, either before or after graduation, that allows you flexible hours so that you can shift your schedule as needed. Jobs in the service industry—available at restaurants, bars, ballparks, theme parks, etc.—generally offer them. This will give you the flexibility and time to go to a job interview, network with professional groups, and work on your résumé and skills set.
Getting into the habit of using budget worksheets will teach you to keep track of your finances and take an objective view of your income and spending patterns. Take this financial education and carry it with you as you become financially independent.