5 Financial Tips for Living on Your Own After Graduation

If you’ve recently graduated, you’ll find that you have many new challenges in your life. Finding employment should be your top priority, but beyond that, you need to figure out a way to pay off your student debt, consider planning for retirement, and more.

However, just the task of paying your monthly bills can be daunting. If you lived on campus or stayed with your parents during school, you’ve likely never had to deal with this before. Yet by implementing a few common sense tips and strategies, you can find plenty of ways to effectively manage your finances.

college grad money

1. Consider Taking on a Roommate
If you’re single, a great way to save money is to take on a roommate. You can advertise at your alma mater or online, such as at Craigslist. Put together an informal screening process, and, at the very least, a credit check. If you want to go the extra mile, obtain a criminal background check as well.

Clearly outline what the rent will be and what it will include. Consider an in-depth, in-person interview, in which you can gauge the candidate’s overall appearance and if you think they’ll be a good fit. Remember, this will be the person you’ll be seeing day-in and day-out.

Always get a signed contract outlining the terms of the agreement – getting the first and last month’s rent upfront never hurts either.

2. Create a Budget
Next, you’ll want to create a budget for yourself. The key here is to spend less than you make. Write down what you earn each month and compare it to what you spend. If you’re spending more than you make, immediately look for ways to cut back. Otherwise, you run the risk of falling into credit card debt, something that you never want to do.

3. Save on Groceries
When it comes to saving money while living on your own, groceries should be at the top of your list. If you’ve never clipped coupons before, I’d consider starting. Once you get a system in place, it’s not as time consuming as you would think. To further increase your savings, partner these coupons with your grocer’s double coupon days.

4. Check Your Utility Bills
Whether you decide to rent or own, utility bills can be a very costly expense if left unchecked. Adopt a “how low/high can you go” attitude when it comes to your thermostat. Wearing tank tops and shorts in the summer and extra sweaters in the winter are easy ways to save on home energy, especially if you live alone. Remember to turn off all appliances when not in use, and unplug the ones that you rarely use.

5. Curb Entertainment
Now that you’ve graduated, it’s unlikely that you’re going to find the same cheap entertainment options that you did during school. Therefore, you’ll want to exercise restraint in this area. Consider limiting your bar-hopping nights with friends, and when you do go out, investigate happy hour prices and hit the clubs with the best deals. There are also lots of cheap stay-at-home entertainment options, such as renting DVDs, trivia nights, and board games.

Final Thoughts
Once you’ve got your budget set and you’re on track financially, consider initiating a retirement savings plan. With the power of compound interest helping you out, it’s important to start as early as you can, even if you can’t set aside huge sums in the beginning. If you’re new to the world of investing, start off by participating in your employer’s 401k program, and contribute as much as you can. Next, look into the many IRA options, and consider opening an account.

Life after college does not have to be burdensome, and with the right mindset you can get your post-graduate life off to a great start and enjoy a financially beneficial future.

What ways can you think of to save money after graduation?

Are You Prepared For A Financial Disaster?

Do you have a emergency plan in place for natural disasters common to your area?  Would you teach your children what to do in the event of a fire in your home?  People understand the the importance of having a plan in place to deal with natural disasters yet fail to properly plan for a financial disaster.  The current economy has brought this lack of planning to the forefront and many people are realizing they are not adequately prepared if faced with the loss of employment, disability, medical emergencies or other financial hardships that are bound to happen at some point in their lifetime.

Anticipate Financial Disasters

When disaster strikes it is too late to think about what you should have done.  You can take the following steps today to be better prepared for what tomorrow may bring.

Develop an emergency budget–  Prepare a budget to determine the minimum amount of income you need to survive a financial emergency as well as the minimum amount of expenses you would have to pay.

Review your insurance policies–  Take the opportunity to review your policies and ensure you have adequate protection before you actually need the coverage.  If you wait until a medical emergency happens it will likely be too late to make the necessary changes to provide the protection you need.

Find out if you qualify–  Protect your credit during the good times to increase the changes of qualifying for a loan during difficult times.  Incurring debt at any time is not recommended for your long term financial security however you may find yourself in a position where you need that money to survive.  If the worst case scenario happens you will have the peace mind of knowing what options are available.

Save, save, save–  The best way to prepare for a financial disaster is by having resources already available should you need them.  Look at your current budget (develop one if you don’t already have a budget in place), cut unnecessary expenses and determine how much money you can put aside in an emergency fund.  By building an emergency fund you will reduce the chances of having to borrow money in hard times and have the security of knowing that you are taking steps to protect yourself and your family in the event of an emergency.

Multiple sources of income–  With unemployment on the rise, the fear of losing your primary income is a realistic concern for many families.  Don’t wait until you are facing a layoff to consider additional streams of income.  By generating outside sources of income you will reduce the damage to your finances should you lose your job.

Preparing for the future can make the difference between surviving a financial disaster or facing years of struggle trying to recover.

Trisha Wagner is a freelance writer for DepositAccounts.com where you can compare rates of deposit accounts from dozens of banks in one place.  Trisha writes regularly on the topics of personal finance and saving accounts.

College and Beyond: What Do I Do About Health Insurance?

At a time when your family already has to struggle with the complexity and cost of sending you off to college it may not seem like the best time to think about what  health insurance coverage is available for you. While it may seem to be something that could be put off until things get settled, it is important to ensure your coverage is in place in the event of emergency while at school. Many times, students can be covered under their parent’s plan as long as they are not married and under the age of 24. But you may still need to look at your policy to make sure it provides adequate coverage for you when you venture off to higher education.

Make Sure You Know How Your Student’s Health Will Be Covered

At what age will a child “fall off” of your parent’s health insurance? This will vary by insurer and by state law, so make sure you and your parents know how long you will be covered.
Does the family health insurance plan rely on a local network? If you belong to a PPO or HMO, it may be local. If you leave the county or state to attend another school, can you still use your policy? Even if you will still be covered, you may have to get “out of network” coverage which means that out of pocket costs will be much greater.
Student health centers may reduce the amount of coverage a student will need, but cannot be relied on for all medical needs. For one thing, they may be closed during vacations and breaks. More importantly, most student health care centers are only set up to handle minor health issues, and all serious health problems or health emergencies would be transferred to a private hospital.
Graduate students, or older students, may very well be over the age that will be covered on their parent’s family plan, and so student health insurance plans can provide security that health insurance will not lapse.
If you plan to travel overseas as part of their education, you may even need to look into international student’s health insurance.

College Student Health Insurance Rates are Low

You will be pleasantly surprised to learn that many major insurers offer student health insurance at a very reasonable rate. They can afford to offer lower premiums because, as a rule,college students are fairly cheap to cover.

College age people are, of course, a younger and healthier population than the general population.
Student health centers do handle minor health problems, and so student health insurance may only have to cover more rare situations.

Other College Student Health Insurance Considerations

Many college student health insurance plans also allow a covered person to renew it if they do not find a job right after they graduate. In some cases, a graduate may land a job, but group health will not begin until a few months have passed.  A policy that can provide coverage during this gap between school and group health insurance can be very valuable.

Some students may need to take a break in their education because of a family problem or the need to work for awhile to save money. If a job does not include health insurance, many student health insurers will also allow the covered person to retain their coverage during this time if other eligibility requirements are met.
What If You Do Not Find A Job With Group Health Right After Graduation?

Of course, many college students graduate without an immediate job prospect. It may also happen that as a recent graduate you may end up with a job with a smaller company that does not offer a group health benefit. If there is no student or family health insurance to cover the gap, here are some steps to take to find coverage.

If you have an income, look into individual major medical plans. For younger and healthier people, these policies should still be affordable.
If  you have a preexisting health condition that makes them unable to qualify for individual health, look into the state’s high risk health insurance plan. Every state has one, but they differ. The state insurance department or a qualified local health insurance agent should be able to help you.
If you have little or no income, you may qualify for a federal, state, or county health program. Your state department of Health and Human Resources may be a good place to start finding out about local options.

How To Find Student and Graduate Health Insurance

Student health insurance and individual health insurance plans vary by state and health insurance company and thus it is necessary to look into what is available in your site. Make sure you take some time to compare your choices.

This post was written by Barbara Waltz one of the founders of 247QuoteUs.com, an insurance blog and insurance quote comparison guide.