Finishing college is a milestone for many people, navigating life on your own, entering a serious job market, and making serious life decisions among other things. Adult life after university comes with huge responsibilities of paying your bills on time, managing your money. Not so many people get their dream job or become entrepreneurs right away.

I remember i did not know what to do after graduating from college, so decided to  live at home with mom, i reasoned with my self that I earned very little money on my first job as a paralegal in a law firm, i needed to save some money, while still living at home; but i did not save the said money, i spent it as it came in my account. I didn’t know any money saving hacks, or which frugal meals to make etc.

In hindsight, it was not about how much I earned, but I lacked (learning) the skills to manage the little money. In this post I look at how you can start life after college or university. 

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  • Internships are one of the most transitional paths from college to career.  Always worth it, they provide real work experience to new students, and develop professional skills.
  • This will help you build your resume, it improves your chances of getting the job you want. Depending on your qualifications, certain companies will pay for your housing for say 6 months.
  • Some schools will offer you credit for doing research work in their lab. Other schools offer credit for doing 6 months co-op internships. You will have to write a report, but this will save you cash in the long run.
  • A friend of mine received 3 credits after doing a summer internship. USAjobs is great place to start and there are worthy government benefits.

Internships have different lengths. From a few days to two weeks,  semester length internships while others stretch up to a year.  There are both paid and unpaid internships depending on the employer.

Studies show that unpaid internships have low conversion rates. Employees who have unpaid internships are less likely take on interns as employees.

  • Adopt the “pay yourself first” principle as early as possible. Instead of trying not to spend whatever money is leftover after paying the bills, make savings the first bill you clear.
  • List down your non negotiable expenses like  rent/mortgage, insurance, electric, student debt repayments, car insurance( if you have one) etc.  Take a look at your past spending on “wants”. 

For example if your “what i regret buying category” is $300/month, try to bring it down to $200. Do not deprive yourself, it will create more problems and you will not succeed in your budgeting.

  • Take your income and subtract the total your new spending targets. Hoping for a positive number. If your expenses are greater than your income, cut your optional categories further.
  • Check the difference between your income and expenses. Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account into your savings account.  Sync the transfer with the date the paycheck comes in. Money out of sight, out of mind, it is no longer available for you to spend.  Remember this is a process, you need to ease into it.
  • There may be months where you do not have enough money to cover your bills, you will have to transfer money back so you do not miss your bill payment- incurring late payment fees. It is important to watch your budget.  
  • The hassle of moving money back and forth may result in you not spending more than the budget allows;  may be an indicator that you are not disciplined enough to follow through; Or it may be a sign that your budget is too tight, you need to go back  and examine it.
  • This gives me a more outline for how to carry out a budget rather than making a month to month budget and not following through with it.
  • YNAB, MINT,  Calendar budget are some of the apps you can use to track your finances.  They have helped me in the past since I struggled with consistency . Check out our resources pages for free budget printables.
  • Do you need furniture for your new place? If not, now would be the time to ask family and friends what they are thinking of throwing out, so they can give you their old stuff.  
  • During end of semester period, check the curb near dorms and sororities, you will be surprised at what people throw out. My friend found a good couch with a matching coffee table from the latter.
  • You will need to maximize your income, so you are prepared for emergencies like when your car breaks down. Leverage your skills and selling them to people who really need help.
  • It can be anything from fixing computers, setting up technical stuff in clients’ home, to freelancing, driving uber/lyft.  Do you live near a university make some extra cash proofreading papers for college students.
  • Are you good in math or other science subjects?  Make extra money tutoring middle school or high school children who need help in those subjects. 

A daughter of a family i know, had challenges in math i middle school; a fresh graduate from college helped her in math a few times a week, she passed with a straight A to join high school.

  • Do you need high speed internet? Do you need to heat the whole house every night? Do you the clothes dryer in the warm months? Hang your laundry outside on a clothesline.
  • Let me do a breakdown for you about the benefits of meal prepping at home. If you eat 5 out of 7 days a week at McDonalds from their dollar menu. That would land you anywhere between $14-16 a day. With that money, you can buy an assortment of fresh veggies, canned chickpeas, black beans and a few cartons of chicken broth.
  • Put all that in your instant pot, and you get lunches for many days for less than one meal at McDonalds.  Not to mention the healthy benefits. Portion your leftovers into grab and go meals.  You will start realizing the value of your dollar, and see how far you can push.
  • One way to ease into saving is to set a food budget, break down a daily budget, say $6/ day, that’s $180 a month. 
  • It can be a combination of groceries or dining out.  This method gives you flexibility other than worrying about staying within a monthly budget.
  • Some people suggest $100/mo. Aim to stay under $200. Avoid processed foods and eating out.  You can also find crock pots at garage or estate sales. Many people buy them, but do not use them.  
  • We upgraded to the instant pot last year, it does a lot more than the crockpot.  It is a rice cooker, yoghurt maker, pressure cooker, steamer in one. It saves a lot of space on the kitchen counter.

It works wonders for us. I just put together  beef, potatoes, vegetables and spices and let it sit for a few hours, and voila dinner is done on a busy school evening. It is worth it’s price.  According to studies, frozen vegetables are better because they are frozen immediately after being picked.

  • Your health should be the number one priority. It may be cheaper now to eat processed foods, you will most likely rack up big medical bills because of declining health.
  • You can make almost anything from mashed potatoes, pulled pork, chicken wings etc.  Once you start cooking yourself, you will need basic foods like rice,potatoes and bread. These foods are usually cheaper than the toppings. In the long run, cooking yourself is cheaper than eating out.
  • A large sized loaf of bread is cheaper than half one. It will last you more than 4 days at home, store in the freezer to avoid mold. Bread works with many soup dishes. It is easy to use in a variety of recipes.
  • Rice and beans come in handy when money is tight. Buy them in bulk from Costco, Sams or your local ethnic market. Splurge on premade sauces and salsa, meat or vegetables to spice it up. Serve pinto or black beans with freshly made rice, sweet potatoes, pasta or tortilla with salad and hot sauce.
  • You could make it a rule to pack all of your lunches to work, alternatively bring leftover dinner to friends’ houses. Instead of going out to drink & eat costly meals, organize with friends, bring home made meals and drinks, alternate between homes so each of you does their share of cleaning.  It is a lot cheaper.
  • You could set a goal to reduce your monthly spending.  Utilize prices per unit tip. I discovered grocery stores put pricey stuff at easy to see spots. 
  • Buying in bulk is a huge money saver. However, you need to figure out how to get the items home. Dragging bags of items home from the warehouse is not fun. You also need space to store the items.
  • Buy spices, noodles, tea, tasty yoghurt drinks, rare foods like pomegranate molasses, at your local ethnic market.  For example, a 3oz jar of chilli about is around $2.00 at our local grocery store;
  • However half a pound costs around $4 at  our local ethnic market. It may not be logical to buy if half pound spice jar if you will not use it often.
  • As a bonus, the proprietors of these markets are usually friendly people, they appreciate it when you stop by to buy their stuff.  However, it is not advisable to buy meat at ethnic markets because it can be more expensive. Many supermarkets have a butcher who will slice your meat the way you like it free of charge.
  • Many people just like me hate doing the dishes, the instant pot saves a lot of time and dishes. All you need is to invest in a second or third inner pot. Was the inner pot, cutting board, knife and spoon as you go. In comparison to an extra pan for the meat to cook.  I know of someone who has a music playlist called “i hate doing dishes” – i know right? She turns it on and “attacks” the dishes.

Instead of using a laundromat, invest in a portable washer, then buy a drying rack to dry clothes instead of using a dryer. A decent portable washer with a spinner is affordable on Amazon, will save you money in the long run. In addition you can drain it in your tub, store it away when not in use.

  • Housing takes a huge chunk out of the monthly budget.  Money experts advise that a maximum of 25% of your net pay should go to housing.  If you can, get a cheaper place, or share an apartment with a friend to save some money.  
  • Take pictures and/or videos of the apartment before you move your stuff in. Some landlords will blame pre-existing damage on the current to keep your deposit.  
  • Just ask yourself, i were moving out, would the landlord charge me for this damage? If the answer is yes, then notify them, no matter how small. They are most likely aware of the damage, probably charged the last tenant for it, but they did not fix it.

Here are a few things you may most likely pay for when renting an apartment.

  • Deposit – some landlords require 2-3 months worth of rent as a security deposit. You most likely do not have good credit.
  • Water, trash collecting, sewer services, gas and electricity, snow shovelling, internet  (depending on the landlord.)
  • Renter’s insurance covers your personal belongings while you are travelling. I lost my new phone at the airport, I filed a claim with my renter’s insurer and i had it replaced it.
  • Renter’s insurance covers your belongings from damage including flooding and theft in addition to liability coverage in case someone is injured in your apartment. It covers part of the injured person’s medical payment.
  • When you can not use your apartment due to damage, renters insurance will cover your stay at the hotel until you are able to use your apartment.
  • Once you get your first job, resist the urge to buy a car with huge payments. Many of your friends will do this, but trust me you are better off without those monthly payments.
  • If you must have a car, buy one you can afford to pay for in cash. Alternatively, find an affordable gently used car to avoid massive monthly car payments.
  • Can you commute by bicycle? The 1 hour bus ride in a city will most likely take 30 minutes while you watch the beautiful scenery. Use Google’s bicycle directions since bicycles have different routes. There is also the bus/train/bike combination. You could take your bicycle on the bus/train.
  • Of Course cycling requires an initial investment, however, it frees up your money from public transit. The health benefits speak for themselves.

Frugality is not about watching over every penny like Mr. Scrooge, but rather spending less on the frivolous things, so you can spend more on the things you really want. For example, i like to travel, taking our children to experience new places, other cultures, new food and make memories.  Remember to live your life; life is fragile it can be taken away in an instant.

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