Cents and Sensibility

Five Financial Tips for College Grads

You just graduated from college and you don’t know what to do financially when you make it back home. Does this situation sound familiar? If so, then check out these financial tips to help you succeed:

1. Move in with your parents: Keep your housing costs down. I moved in with my parents right after college for a full year and was able to save enough money to purchase an income property. To return the favor to my parents, I helped out with cooking and paying one small monthly bill for them. You can utilize the opportunity of staying with your parents after college and pay off debt, save for a down payment on a home, save toward your emergency fund, or simply to build credit and start becoming financially responsible.

2. Start investing: It is never too soon to invest. In fact, the younger you are the better. You have many years ahead of you, unlike your parents and grandparents generations, to make your money grow. You can invest by purchasing mutual funds, stocks, or even investment properties.

3. Take advantage of your company’s 401(k): If your employer offers 401(k), contribute to at least enough to match what the employer is offering. Not taking advantage of it is like leaving free money on the table and reducing your wages/salary. Taking advantage of a 401(k) plan right after college could add thousands of dollars more to your retirement plan.

4. Pay your bills on time: Pay your bills on time right after college to start good financial habits. Also, by paying your bills on time, you can increase your credit score and avoid late fees. Making just one late payment can drop your credit score to nearly 100 points, depending on the creditor. While damaging your credit score may not negatively damage you financially immediately, like a late payment, the long-term damage can be worse. Late payments can lead to being rejected for a loan not to mention your interest rate can go up, causing hundreds of dollars extra that you could’ve saved.

5. Go the extra mile to find a job: You are probably more likely to find a job through networking. Ask your parents, friends of parents, college professors, and anyone else you know about open positions that you may qualify for. Don’t expect to get a job by only filling out online applications. Go the extra step to network and communicate with those around you regarding job opportunities.


About Dr. Karen Ratliff

Karen Ratliff

Credit: Dr. Karen Ratliff

Dr. Ratliff is a certified life coach and professional educator, assisting many people in accomplishing financial, career, and educational goals.  She is also the author of “Tightening Your Bootstraps: 104 Tips to Kick Your Debt to the Curb Now.” Keep up with her budgetary advice via Twitter @drkarenratliff  her website at, and her facebook fanpage “Financially Focused with Dr. Karen Ratliff.”