The Basics of Graduating: Finances

Graduating is an exciting time for anyone – you’ve spent the last few years studying, learning, discussing, writing, typing, crying, laughing, panicking and studying some more – and now it’s almost over, you have every right to be excited.

You should be full of optimism, intrigue and an urge to move forward – which is a great attitude to have. However, before you lunge forward and into the ‘real world’ you need to take certain precautions and do certain things to make sure that you will in fact be ready. As, believe it or not, there is a good chance you are not as ready as you think.

In the first part of a series, we will look at your finances and how you should be managing what you have, and what you don’t have, when graduating.

Look at what you owe

In today’s world, it’s difficult to come across someone who doesn’t have a credit card or an overdraft. Despite the popular belief they can be rather helpful things when it comes to credit ratings for example, students likely have a student credit card, and while these make sense, student cards for students, they certainly do not provide the best options available once you’ve graduated.

You need to do your research, don’t walk in to a bank and take what they tell you to; go in knowing what you specifically want. If you had in fact taken a student card, then researching others is vital for you. Even if you hadn’t taken a student card, do the research anyway, there is a good chance you can get a better deal elsewhere. Moneyfacts is a good place to start. They don’t actually provide any products themselves; they just give you news and facts about banks etc. This is of course good advice to take through life in general, always do your research before taking out any sort of agreement, particularly when it comes to your finances.

Despite what was said about credit cards being good for your credit rating etc, it’s always going to be better to not have a large outstanding balance on them. You’re going to have to start paying back your student loan soon, the less you’ve got going out each month, the better.

Look at what you might be owed

If you have in fact got a credit card, or even a personal loan, then you might be owed money. You’ve most likely heard of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) – well, a large amount of people are not even aware that they have been/were paying for this service, and could be owed a fair sum. One such policy states “You may be entitled to compensation if you were given misleading or unclear information when you were sold your card…” So, if this seems familiar to you, get on the phone to your bank. You might not be due anything, but there is always that chance you will be. And of course this isn’t the only reason you may be owed money – look at bank charges for example, they are often heightened and unnecessary. You never know what you may be due, and believe me, you should take whatever you can get.

Get rid of what you don’t need

Whether you rent, live on campus or live at home, it’s a fair assumption that you’ve got a lot of things you don’t actually need, because everyone does. There will be plenty lying about that will be worth not a lot of money, but money none the less. DVDs, for example: The standard millennial will have a plethora of DVDs. Why don’t you sell these, make some money and get Netflix. This logic can be applied to many things that will just be lying in your home, taking up space. Not only will it put a bit of extra money in your pocket, but it will freshen up your place with more space.

Start budgeting and saving now, you won’t regret it.

These are just some of the things you can do to get your finances into shape, and that’s really been the reasoning behind this post – when leaving college, you need to be at the highest possible level of financial wellbeing.

You might think a job interview won’t cost anything – you’d be wrong. A fancy new suit, shiny shoes, travel expenses which can sometimes be high  if you’re travelling far and have to stay overnight perhaps all add up.

Then what happens when you get your job? You’re going to need more than one new work outfit, more shiny shoes. A car? A place to live? There is going to be so much going out at this point in your life, and it may sound disheartening hearing it all laid out like that, but you’re better off knowing now, believe me.

Having a comfortable relationship with your finances and your financial obligations will make the transition from student life to the working world easier; it’s just up to you to make sure this happens.

ChrisSmith_HeadshotChris Smith is a recent graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland where he received his BA Hons in Marketing. When he isn’t writing, Chris enjoys drawing as he finds it therapeutic.