This past month, many individuals walked across a stage, shook a hand, and received a piece of paper. If you were one of them, congratulations! You did it. You graduated.
Financially, this is a very important time for you. The way you handle your money during the first few years after college will have significant, future ramifications, for better or worse.
Let’s look at a few mistakes that college graduates make that set back their finances, sometimes for many years.
- Dismissing budgeting. Most loathe the thought of budgeting. So they simply don’t do it. This is a mistake. A budget is your plan for achieving financial health. Budgets are strategic tools that you need to take advantage of. Without a plan or guide, things get chaotic quickly. You spend more than you mean to. You give and save less than you intend to. And you future self regrets way more than they should.
- Not taking advantage of your company’s match. Some organizations offer their employees additional retirement contributions based on the amount the employer contributes into the plan. Unfortunately, many college graduates ignore this benefit. They assume that the contribution is insignificant. It’s not. It is a huge deal. What may seem insignificant now can turn into big dollars in the future. A little bit of money + A lot of time = A lot of money. Get your match.
- Not getting rid of your debt. You may have credit card debt. You probably have student loan debt. Don’t let these debts hang around. They are killing your ability to give generously and save wisely. And the longer you keep them around, the more you pay. That’s how interest works.
- Buying a new car. Purchasing a new car is one of the worst financial mistakes you can make. The value of a new car drops around 10% the moment you drive off the lot. That means you just threw away 10% of whatever you just paid. In the first year, new car values plummet by over 25%. Don’t waste your money on a new car. Try to keep driving your current car while you work on other areas of your finances. If you need a car, buy a used one. Let someone else take the financial hit.
- Living a lifestyle that does not align with your income. This may be the first time you have received a salary. Be careful. It might not be as much money as you think. Many college graduates spend more than they earn. They don’t quite understand what their new salary affords them. This is why budgeting is so important. Don’t get caught spending more than you should. Those who spend more than they earn dive into debt and injure their financial future.
Congratulations on your graduation. Graduating from college is a significant accomplishment.
As you enter your money-making years, avoid the common mistake of recent graduates. Pursue God’s design for you money.
Give generously. Save wisely. Live appropriately.