5 Helpful Financial Hacks for Recent College Grads to Get Ahead

By Myles Leva

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Last Updated: August 4, 2022

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Recent college grads may be in greater need of financial hacks than anyone. Recent college graduates often face challenges like:

  • Having no “real world” experience in the eyes of many employer
  • Being faced with unrealistic expectations
  • Perhaps being forced to relocate
  • Uncertainty of the future
  • Little experience in job interviews

On top of this, recent college grads are faced with the monumental challenge of having to manage their personal finances for the first time. Of course, the added burden of student loan debt couldn’t come at a worse time.

Despite all of these challenges, most college graduates benefit from:

  • Increased job opportunities
  • Higher earning potential (both starting and mid-career)
  • Networking opportunities
  • Potential for a specialized career path

In the meantime, it’s the transitionary period that may prove the most challenging. So, let’s go over the financial hacks that recent college grads should be aware of.

 

5 Financial Hacks to Help Recent College Grads 

1. Income-Driven Repayment Plans

An income-driven repayment plan is exactly what its name suggests.

Your monthly student loan repayments are set according to your income and family situation. Most federal student loans qualify for this arrangement.

However, once you apply, you may need to reapply should your home and income situation change again. Updating your information and having your repayments reset accordingly is easy, though.

An income-driven repayment plan is normally accessible to anyone with a federal student loan who is seeking a lower monthly repayment. If you qualify, you may be able to gain a more realistic repayment schedule.

These plans are offered by the Federal Government, and you are required to present your:

  • Verified FSA ID
  • Financial information (includes electronic documents recording your income)
  • Personal information
  • Spouse’s information, if you have a spouse

You can learn more about the four types of income-driven repayment plans here.

2. Realistic Budgeting

While this is less of a “financial hack” than any other entry on this list, it’s still one that cannot be skipped over.

Everyone who isn’t extremely rich but hopes to improve their financial situation should have a budget. Even if your income is high, it can be quite easy to fail to save and invest without a solid plan and discipline.

A budget is little more than a spending plan. We’ve published many articles on the topic.

For recent college grads, there’s often no getting around the fact that budgeting will be more difficult. But a realistic budget sets you on the right path. As you pay down debt and increase your earning potential, it normally only gets easier, however.

You aren’t reinventing the wheel; you’re just making a wheel that works best for you.

3. Having Fun Without Breaking the Bank

This financial hack can be very easy or very difficult. It depends on your hobbies and what you’ve built a habit of doing for entertainment. However, there are plenty of ways to have fun with little or no money.

There are dozens of possibilities, depending on your location, but some options include

  • Organizing picnics
  • Going to museums and galleries on free entry day
  • Taking a walking tour
  • Going to a farmer’s market
  • Camping
  • Going to a public library
  • Volunteering for interesting work/event
  • Meetup groups (example: meetup.com
  • Nature watching or photography

If it’s possible, just walk or ride a bicycle. Cars can be money pits in many ways.

Get creative; there are endless options here!

4. Student Loan Consolidation

If you took out private student loans, you may still have access to some financial hacks.

If you took more than one, you can try consolidating your private student loans into one.

As long as you don’t have bad credit, this can often make your repayments more affordable. Like any type of debt consolidation, it can also provide mental relief. You will only have a single debt to worry about, and only one repayment to deal with at a time.

5. Move Back Home

Depending on your former classmates’ situations, this may be what you want to hear. Or, it could be a financial hack that fills you with dread. Either way, moving back in with your parents is a common step after college. Almost a third of recent grads do it.

If moving back home is not feasible, or if it simply stresses you out to think about, consider than almost another third of recent grads moved back to their hometown for cheaper rent.

Being close to your family and old community can be good in general for both cheaper rent and access to a supportive community to guide you through challenges such as those to your health and finances. It can be a great middle path between moving back in with your parents and moving somewhere new where you may lack a supportive community.

Bonus Tips for College Grads

Financial hacks can save you under some circumstances, but may not always be easy or pleasant to achieve.

In general, some practices that don’t qualify as hacks should also be considered.

  • Don’t be picky about jobs right out of college
  • Start investing as soon as it’s feasible
  • Build an emergency fund, as young people are far from exempt from experiencing emergencies
  • Live below your means
  • If you’re going to buy a vehicle, don’t buy ne
  • Avoid buying vehicles whenever possible, but if you must, learn about vehicles so you can make the right choice and avoid the worst of their cost
  • Start a side hustle
  • Build your credit with responsible credit card use
  • Never neglect debts (this can seriously bite you in the future)

Photo by Keira Burton

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