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Budget blues: Financial advice for graduates | Lifestyle

Graduation can be an exciting time. For many, it comes with student loan debt. We can hope that the movement toward debt forgiveness continues to gain traction. But for now, financial advisors say paying down student loans and credit card debt should be a high priority for recent grads. Your credit score will determine your ability to do many things, and sometimes is even a factor in being selected for a job. Grads will want to be aware of how their credit score is doing.

Most loans do not require payment for six months after graduation. There are also deferments and payment arrangements available if needed. Do your research on your loans, and find out what rights and responsibilities you have. The most important thing is to communicate with your lenders.

Grads may also be facing some new bills. Some may be getting their first apartment which means they can expect rent, utilities and grocery bills. Grads will also need transportation. They will need to decide if they want the expenses of a car which include licenses, registration, insurance, repairs and gas. Grads who can opt for using public transportation will need to decide if it makes more financial sense to pay as they go or buy a pass.

There is a wealth of advice on the internet on creating a budget and planning for your financial future. There are a few things that all financial advisors seem to agree on:

Make a budget

An important first step, making a budget will show you exactly what you need and when you’ll need it. This will help you plan for all future expenses.

Set financial goals

Set goals for yourself from a financial perspective, but keep them realistic. Make sure you reference your budget as you do so.

Manage student loans and credit card debt

This should be a priority on your list of expenses that need paid. The last thing you want is bad credit for missing a student loan payment.

Build Savings or an Emergency Fund

You never know when you’re going to need some emergency money, so building up your savings or a fund in case of emergencies only is a very important thought to keep on the backburner.

Take advantage of employer benefits

Just as important as everything else here, be sure to take advantage of those employer benefits, especially 401k.

Be aware of your credit score

Over and above all, just be aware of it, and you should be fine.

Budgeting your money and building credit can be intimidating for recent grads. But with a little research and planning it does not have to be painful or stressful.  Make sure you do allow for some entertainment expenses or the occasional treat.  With proper planning you can get by comfortably in the present while building toward future goals.

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