Uni was great. I hung out with my friends all day and all weekend. I worked 12 hours a week, and had practically nothing left over when the rent was due. Bliss. Post-uni, things aren’t quite so easy. Bills to pay, career decisions to make, the spectre of HECS. Here are some tips and tricks I wish someone had told me. Inspired by the incomparable Globe and Mail.
Understand Your HECS
It might not be something you have to actually pay off for a long time, but make sure you at least understand how much you owe, at what point you’ll start paying it off and how it will affect the other debts and repayments you probably have coming your way.
Save Up: Short Term
I finished university thinking that lots of people wanted to hire recently graduated communication students, and was quickly disabused of that fact. In my ignorance, I hadn’t lined a job up and ended up paying my rent with my credit card for far too long- a fact that means I’m still paying off those couple of months. Either line a job up first, or have a bit of an emergency fund to soften the post-uni blow.
Save Up: Long Term
Even if you’ve got the dream job, sometimes things go awry. Being prepared for that day financially is a huge boon, and will avoid you getting into extra debt or being strapped for cash. And if you don’t end up needing it? Thank your stars for your blessed existence and put it towards your retirement or a house deposit.
Do You Need A Car?
I want a car- I know that much. But whether I can truly afford it at this point of my career is another question. Understanding the difference between need and want is apparently a crucial life skill, and one I’m still honing. It’s an important consideration when moving- will you need a car to survive in your new setting or could you move somewhere with great public transport and save money that way?
The first year in your career is going to be a tough one. You don’t get paid huge amounts, you’re still learning the ropes. So while you want to get out there and be independent, think about living at home or with friends for the time being. It’s much cheaper, will be a great support system as you go through your first year and you can move out to your own place when you’re properly set up and able to afford it.
Budget, Always Budget
Those years of university, I never really needed a budget because I literally didn’t have any money. Lots of people will tell you that you should start saving then, and I’m sure that’s true. I’m also sure there’s a fair amount to be said for a couple of years where you don’t worry so much. Those years are gone, I tell ya. Now, I need a budget. I have long-terms and short-term goals that I need to achieve. I no longer think I can have it all, so I’ve got a good idea of what I want most and how I am going to achieve it. Having a road map (as George W) would say is the first step in getting anywhere.