Money-Management Skills for After You Graduate College

Money-management skills become an important necessity, after you graduate college. Give yourself some time to adjust, make sure you do your own research, and pay attention to the world of finance. It'll save you in the long-run. Schools offering Financial Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.


Harsh Reality

The big day is finally approaching, and you're ready to say goodbye to the days of classes and nights of studying. As graduation nears, you're likely to be thinking of your future. Typically, someone in your situation is considering getting a job and finding a place to live.

However, most students are unaware of how much it costs to live outside of campus or their parents' homes. You've got to shop around before deciding where you'll live and what you're willing to spend. You may be surprised to see that sometimes your money stretches further than you thought, but in most cases, you'll find things cost more than you anticipated.

Typical Expenses

It's frightening to live on your own for a few months. Things you weren't expecting to creep up need to be paid for. Even when you round purchases in your head, there are taxes that add up. Think of life like balancing your checkbook (more on this further down): if you don't do this and only round off prices in your head, it could lead to disaster for your bank account. The following are some, but not all, of the expenses you'll encounter:

  • Rent
  • Gas (sometimes hot water or heat are included in your rent)
  • Electric
  • Cable
  • Internet (you can typically bundle cable and Internet)
  • Phone (it's up to you if you want both a cell phone and a landline)
  • Groceries
  • Gas for the car
  • Car insurance
  • School loans
  • Medical insurance (this may or may not come directly from your check)
  • Taxes
  • 401K (this is a good thing to have, not bad)
  • Credit card debt (hopefully you have none of this)


The word strikes terror in many hearts. It brings forth ideas of frugal living, skimping on luxuries and using hand-me-down clothes. The truth is, to live like you don't have a budget you need to have a budget. Yes, it's a contradiction - but once you've budgeted and saved, you'll find that you have a better grasp on your money and have more freedom to use it.

Budget Forms

Many websites provide free budgeting forms to get you started on the road to money management. Some worksheets are printable, while other programs must be used online. In either instance, by plugging your money and expenses into this form you'll see just how much money is available after bills. Then you can decide what's really necessary in your life and what you're wasting an exorbitant amount of money on.

Want vs. Need

It's sometimes tough to distinguish between wants, needs and luxuries. Do you need food? Yes. Do you need steak once a week? No. Do you need a new car? No. Do you need new tires? Yes. Do you need a haircut? Yes. Do you need a pedicure? No.

Okay, so this can go on and on, and while some would disagree that a haircut is a necessity, it is a necessary luxury. As much as everyone would love a day at the spa, you can live without it. Living without a haircut becomes increasingly difficult as your hair grows longer and you begin to look unkempt. Besides, it'll be easier interviewing for a job without a shaggy 'do.


It's a good idea to set a percentage of your pay aside for savings each month. By doing this, you're preparing yourself for emergencies and future goals. This doesn't need to be much, but once you've adapted to a budgeting lifestyle, you may find that it's not as hard as it sounds.

Using Cash

One of the best budgeting tips is to use cash instead of your bank card. You may think that it's still your money so it shouldn't matter, but it does. It's along the lines of the out of sight, out of mind concept. If you have your money in your hands, you'll see exactly how much you're spending. Instead of running your card for a purchase of $47.13, you'll hand over three 20-dollar bills and watch as you receive $12.87 in change. You're also less likely to make an impulse buy. Do you really want to break a 20-dollar bill for a pack of gum or a candy bar?

Bank Accounts

Whether for spending or saving, bank accounts house your money. They're better than stuffing your money under a mattress, because they're insured. Also, with the digital age, you can now easily check your accounts from your computer or phone.

Checking Account

Most important is a checking account. If you don't have one of these you'll need to go down to a check-cashing center. These centers charge a fee or take a percentage of your check to cash it. This is an unnecessary added expense that could be avoided with a bank account. Just be sure that your account costs nothing. Many banks and wholly online accounts are free with no added fees. In fact, some online banks allow you to take money out of any ATM without a fee.

Be sure to balance your checkbook weekly. With paper and electronic statements available online, there's no reason not to keep track of your account. Sure, it may take some time out of your week, but not doing it could cost you a lot of money. If you're even off by two dollars, it could spiral you into huge debt.

Banks think they're helping you by allowing a purchase to go through at a store even if the money isn't in your account. This is supposed to save you the embarrassment of a declined card. Instead, it could cost you a fee of up to $35 for the transaction. Check with your bank for overdraft protection options.

Some banks also charge monthly for having an account balance beneath their minimum required amount. Make sure you pay attention to certain attributes of your bank account to avoid monthly fees.

Savings Account

Also consider opening a high-yield savings account. Choose one that has no minimum balance requirement. This way if you have an emergency and need to withdraw most of the money, you won't be charged. Having your money in a savings account gives you interest and compound interest, which is interest paid on interest. It can add up, which makes savings accounts great. This account is the easiest way to put money away and introduces you to the world of investing. Once you're comfortable and have a good amount of money saved, you can begin finding new investments.

Now that you have a budget, you'll want to learn how to live without spending a ton. Check out these great frugal living blogs for useful money-saving tips.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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