With each passing year, student debt increases and new graduates find themselves facing more and more financial burdens. In fact, the graduating class of 2012 finds themselves with more debt than any class before them – ever. The average student coming out of college now finds themselves in debt up to $30,000. Obviously, for many college students, this number is far higher; after all, $30,000 represents the mean, not the majority.
This problem is compounded by the fact that the financial turndown of late 2007 and early 2008 is still impacting the economy more than six years later. Many new graduates are accepting jobs for far less than they had originally envisioned making while in college. For many, a low-paying job is better than no job, college degree or not. So what’s a new student or young adult to do in order to meet their financial goals? Well, as with dieting and exercise, there isn’t much of a secret – it really all comes down to execution.
Savings, Savings, Savings!
Far too many young adults fail to save. Even putting away as little as $100 a month can amount to over a thousand dollars in savings over the course of a year. While you may not be able to buy a car or go on a lavish vacation with this amount of money, it can help you pay your bills if you’re overdue one month or provide for a down payment on a new apartment across town. The key is to make savings a priority in your life.
If you have automatic deposit at your place of work, consider putting aside a set amount of money or set percentage of your paycheck into your savings account every month. This way, you won’t even know what you’re missing, as your expectations of your take-home will be based on what gets deposited in your checking account – not the actual net income you make per month.
Lower Your Expenses
Not enough young adults appreciate the difference that lowering expenses can have on their purchasing power. A reduction in expenses of $500 per month is the same as a $6,000 raise over the course of a year – no small amount of money! If you think of lowering your expenses in terms of making more money, you might find it easier to justify cutting out certain monthly indulgences.
Do you have cable or satellite television? If so, consider replacing it with a digital subscription to Netflix or Hulu. Such a simple change can net you up to $100 or more per month. Have you checked your data plan lately? Consider applying for a new data plan or changing carriers to lower your monthly expenses. Thanks to T-Mobile, the “uncarrier” service provider now offers no-contract cell phone plans and allows customers to upgrade whenever they want!
A reduction of $20 per month will save you $240 over the course of a year – enough for a one-way airplane ticket nearly anywhere in the country! Reduce, reduce, reduce until you can reduce no longer, and then pocket the money that you’re saving. Resist the urge to spend it all!
Manage Your Finances
Meeting financial goals is going to require some work on your part. How closely do you currently manage your finances? Do you studiously check your balance on a regular basis or do you take a laissez-faire attitude regarding your money? If managing your finances is something you need more practice with, you’re in luck: there are a number of different financial apps that can help you make sense of heads and tails. If you need help, don’t be afraid to use the right tools. Your own money should never be a mystery to you!
Of course, you may also consider getting your own bank’s mobile app. Most banks now offer them, providing you with account information anywhere at anytime, and most also offer the means to deposit checks using your smartphone’s built-in camera. Suffice to say, the future of banking is now!
Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves covering technology news and the ways that technology can make life easier. Follow her on Twitter @TechyJessy.
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