Personal finance

The Smartest Financial Advice for Recent College Graduates

The decisions you make soon after finishing college will determine your path to financial success. However, many new graduates know nothing about personal finance. Thus, the best gift to every recent college graduate is smart financial advice to prepare them for a better future.

That is the goal of this article; to give you important money advice that nobody cared to give you in school. Discover 9 life-changing money tips that will help you secure a good future for yourself.

An ultimate objective for every person is to achieve stability and freedom with money. And It all starts with great post college financial planning. Let’s get to it!

9 Golden tips: The Smartest Financial Advice for College Graduates

1. Learn the fundamentals of Finance

You now have so much knowledge in a specific field; applied mathematics, literature, art history, or computer science, etc.

Yet, like most students, you certainly know little about money management. That’s why an important first step after graduation is to learn the basics of personal finance.

This is one of the most important financial tips for college students.

Take time to learn and understand the important basics of ‘life and money.’ You should learn about:

  • Making a budget, the 50/30/20 rule.
  • Savings; creating checkings and savings accounts.
  • Dealing with loans and bank credit.
  • Making investments; stocks, cryptocurrency, or real estate.
  • Creating Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

This article is a good place to start.

2. Consider a Variety of Job Options

Most people have one thing in mind; landing a dream job. That’s great! But understand that there are many ways to get to your ideal destination.

Perhaps you have to start with a smaller role and then walk your way up. Or you might turn to professional internships first. Whatever the case, a smart move is to consider a variety of job options.

Do not be too picky with the opportunities that come your way. The earlier the money starts coming in, the better. You no longer have an allowance, remember. So you need that money to start taking care of the expensive load now placed on your shoulders.

I started out as a content marketer for a local startup, even though my dream has been to lead a sales team. However, I am currently learning so much that will help me achieve my dream. Plus, the professional experience I’m getting is priceless for my journey.

3. Make and improve on your budget, Track your expenses

It normally takes time and experimentation to find the ideal budget that works for you. But you have to start making a budget right after graduation, even before you start earning.

Research from the Pew Research Center reveals that 52% of US adults aged 18–26 still live with single or both parents. This means so many graduates know nothing about personal finance, budgeting, tracking expenses, paying bills, etc.

I hope this isn’t you.

But here’s an important piece of financial advice for college graduates:

As soon as you get out of school, start working on a budget that fits you. You could opt for a weekly or monthly budget, whatever works for you. For your budget, consider rents, bills, groceries, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses such as recreation.

Also start tracking your experiences. You will learn so much about yourself; your habits, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses, when you develop the habit of tracking your expenses.

You’ll see exactly what activity or hobby is taking up too much of your income, or what habit is saving you money. Then you can make adjustments for a healthier money life.

Remember, money spent is money lost.

Expense tracking also helps you figure out cost-saving alternatives to some of the money-draining elements in your life. Perhaps taking the bus instead of a cab. Or maybe cooking healthy food instead of eating Pizza will save extra bucks.

Budgeting can never be effective without expense tracking. Use a tool to help analyze your spending weak points and strengths. Use this information to work towards better habits and resolutions, and to improve on your budget.

4. Begin saving to repay your student loans sooner

Most individuals have a stack of student loans that hold them back for too long. The average student loan debt for 2021 is $36,900, according to research from the Educative Data Initiative.

The earlier you start paying off your student loans, the faster you’ll get to stability. Even with the 6 months’ grace period for federal loans, start working on a payment plan, before you land your first job.

Here’s some advice for making your student loan payment plan;

  • Figure out how much you will be required to put aside for your student loans every month, to meet up with deadlines. Also, figure out how much you can put aside for these loans based on your income. Compare these two values, and try to make a balance.
  • Student loans should make a huge part of your budget. Any extra money can be redirected towards these loans.

5. Consider the 50/30/20 rule

The 50/30/20 rule simply tells you how you should spend your money, according to experts. As you plan on how to spend your hard-earned money, use the 50/30/20 calculator.

The rule says you should aim to spend about 50% of your income on essential needs, including rents, bills, transportation, groceries and gas, student loans, health insurance, or other primordial expenses.

Meanwhile, you should strive to put 20% of your income into savings, investments, and your emergency fund, which we’ll talk about later.

The other 30% can align with miscellaneous and less essential expenses like getting a dog, or going out with friends.

This is the rule that will guarantee that you’re spending your money right. This is perhaps the golden financial tip for fresh college graduates.

6. Consider multiple streams of income

You’re fresh out of school and you’ve found a job that pays pretty well. Even so, an intelligent tip is to consider multiple streams of income.

Don’t go back home and spend the evening watching TV, instead of working on a side hustle, project, or skill. It pays so much to have multiple income streams from an early age. To make this happen, you’ll need multiple skills or multiple investments.

You might consider freelance based on a skill you’ve mastered, in addition to your regular job. Or perhaps you could start a small business, turning passion into passive income.

There’s nothing wrong with having a job and owning a blog or podcast on the side. Multiple income streams are a great step towards success and freedom with money.

7. Begin Saving Money for Retirement

I get that you’re feeling too young to think about retirement. But time’s a fickle beast, and it goes by so fast. Here’s some great financial advice for graduate students: start saving money for retirement today!

If you start early, say age 23, your 65-year-old self will be grateful. Saving for retirement around the age of 30 is good, but it’s smarter and wiser to start saving now.

So as you make your savings goals, consider creating an IRA (individual Retirement Account), or speak to your employers to see what they offer for retirement.

8. Start an Emergency fund

If you get into an accident, insurance will probably cover that. But what happens when your car gets toed, or a family member gets arrested? Your emergency fund will get you out of such a big mess.

Yet, statistics reveal that most Americans are unable to deal with emergencies that cost over $400. Which means most people fail to save money for emergencies?

A great financial tip for all fresh graduates is to start building an emergency fund. This should be part of your savings goals. You could have a limit to your emergency fund, say $500, although this limit can grow as your earnings go up.

9. Start making investments as early as possible

The right investments from a young age can very well replace a long life of savings for retirement. That’s why a smart financial move for a recent graduate is to start making investments as early as possible.

Good savings habits have already helped you accrue meaningful credits with banks. Now you can take a loan and make an investment.

You’re never too young to invest in the stock market, cryptocurrency, or even real estate. There are lots of wise investments out there if you look well.

There is a catch though. Not all investment decisions you make will be the right ones. But you cannot achieve success without taking risks.

Also, ask for help from experts and experienced individuals. Look before you leap, as long as you leap in the end.


The freedom that money brings isn’t easy to achieve but is possible with the right plan and discipline. Above are the smartest financial rules for new college graduates who seek freedom with money.

Knowledge is only valuable when put to action. Apply these tips to your life, build the future you desire for yourself.


Oleksandr graduated from Dnipro National University of railway transport in Ukraine. At first, he was a customer success manager at PocketGuard and in 1.5 years has been promoted to product manager....

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