Graduating from college is exciting — but it can also be scary. As you enter the real world, you’re going to have to master your own schedule, finances, and work. And you’ll want to transform your lifestyle to feel more grown-up — without going broke.
Here are some tips for navigating this exciting and tricky time.
Know what to buy and how to buy it
Your college graduation has ushered you into the so-called real world. But, unlike the adults who have been here for years, you are not exactly sitting on a pile of cash. Your career, and your serious efforts at saving start right now. That means that you need to be careful.
The furniture and homes that your parents have are not things that they acquired the moment that they graduated from school. It will take you years, and perhaps decades, to replace every piece of furniture you have now, upgrade your wardrobe, and acquire all of the other trappings of successful adult life.
Trying to match the lifestyle of workforce veterans before you get your first paycheck is one of the most financially dangerous things that you can do right out of school.
On the other hand, some expenses are essential. You need to recognize which ones those are and spend as wisely as possible. Take a car, for instance; if you have a job in a city or suburb where car travel is the best way to get around, then you need to make an investment in a vehicle.
But be smart. Do your research and choose a practical car that will hold its value. Check out used car auctions and hunt for great deals. If you choose wisely, you can get plenty of value out of your car without overspending. Remember, this isn’t the car you’ll have for the rest of your life — this is just the one you need to get started. Stick to your budget.
Another crucial financial concern will be your student loans. Make them a priority, and set a household budget that takes care of the essentials (including the aforementioned car) while also helping you to save toward a more comfortable future.
Creating an adult apartment on a budget
As a college graduate, you’re now officially an adult, which means that it’s probably time to take down some of those posters and try some more mature decor. But you’re not sitting on years’ worth of savings, and we just talked about how you’re trying not to spend on frivolous things. So what can you do?
The key to decorating your first apartment is recognizing where affordable changes can make the biggest impact. Take canvas prints, for instance. Custom canvas photo prints are not expensive, but they look a whole lot classier than posters or 3-inch-by-5-inch photo prints. You can turn favourite photos from an old pushpin photo collage into art-quality wall hangings on the cheap and truly transform your space.
Another move that will really help you craft a great space on a budget is to master the art of secondhand-furniture shopping. Particularly for wood and metal pieces, the secondhand market is a great place to get a deal — provided you have enough of an eye for design to separate the quality from the junk.
Finally, there’s one thing that you can do for free that will make a massive difference in your apartment’s look: clean. Regular tidying-up will go a long way toward keeping your first apartment from looking like a dorm room.
You need a calendar
There’s a lot that goes into being a “real” adult, but one thing in particular merits mention. That’s the fact that you are now going to be responsible for making and tracking all of your important appointments.
That’s why you need to make good use of calendars, be they physical ones or online apps. Making medical appointments or doing your taxes on time may not yet be second nature for you, but you can get on track with the help of a smart scheduling system. Good luck!