Fri | May 26, 2017

Life after college

Published:Monday | May 18, 2015 | 5:00 AM

After finally graduating from university, you are probably eager to spread your wings and be independent. Living on your own may appear easy, but it's your first real adult experience without a safety net. Relying entirely on 'you' is not a walk in the park. Here are some quick tips on how to afford living on your own after college.

 

Identify your needs

 

 

from your wants

 

You first need to learn the difference between needs - food, shelter, electricity, repaying student loan and clothing and wants - a car, smartphone, and fancy accessories.

 

Be patient

 

Don't expect to immediately start living a luxury life after university. It is going to take you a while to acquire a certain standard of living - a spacious home and a car, etc. If you get ahead of yourself, you might fall into debt, which is the easiest and fastest way to end up back home.

 

Get a roommate

 

Living with another person may not be your ideal situation, but can make the transition a bit easier. Being on your own involves more than paying your rent and utility bills. You have to deal with unexpected expenses, help family members, pay student loan, purchase basic necessities, all while saving for future endeavours.

 

Start saving your money

 

My father recently told me that its not about how much you work, but how much you save. Avoid frivolous spending. From personal experiences, as you get older with more responsibilities, the harder it will be to save money. You can explore different saving options - partner plans and investments.

 

Learn to be your own helper

 

Learn to cook, clean, and wash for yourself. Although it may be easier to grab a meal and go, it's not exactly healthy and cheap to do it every day. It is cheaper and healthier to buy groceries and prepare your meals at home. It is also cheaper to do your own laundry than to hire someone to do it for you.

 

Avoid taking credit cards

 

Make sure you are ready and understand how to use a credit card responsibly before applying for one. Many graduates take on too many expenses too quickly. The first debt that many of us acquire is student loan. But credit cards should not be used to bridge gaps in your income because of a certain lifestyle you want to establish - big mistake - this may result in a massive interest charges.

 

Create a budget and stick to it

 

It is very important to live within your means - spending less than you earn. I am guilty of creating numerous budgets and not sticking to them, and by the beginning of the next month, I am gasping to stay afloat. It's only by having a clear spending plan or budget that you are able to live within your means. A budget keeps you on track and helps monitor where your money goes.

 

Start now

 

Keep track of all you are spending by making notes of all your expenses. You can do this monthly. Then subtract your monthly expenses from your take-home salary. You will either have money left over, which means you are on the right path, or your monthly expenses will exceed your income, signalling the need to adjust how much you spend in certain areas.

cathy.risden@gleanerjm.com