Dec 27, 2021 03:11 PM EST
How to Live Comfortably on an Entry-Level Salary
Life after college is scary, especially when you realize just how expensive it is to survive as a full-fledged adult. A median entry-level salary of $40,000 is not enough for anyone to live comfortably in any major U.S. city. What are you to do when it comes to buying a house, paying off student loans and making all those big plans you had about your future a reality? Try not to panic. It's difficult, but you can budget, save, and build credit as a recent college graduate. Here's how to get started.
Get Your Student Loan Debt in Check
The first thing you should do when your grace period is up is figure out exactly how much you can afford to pay. In some cases, it may be better for you to refinance your student loans through a private lender. This process can help you cut down on monthly payments and even reduce your total owed interest. A private lender will be able to work with you to come up with a repayment strategy that leaves more breathing room in your budget.
Don't Take on Expenses You Can't Afford
Don't rush to move out of your parents' place or ditch roommates because you have to have your own place. Owning a house or renting an apartment takes serious money upfront, and you shouldn't put yourself in a position that you're liable to lose. Take your time, check the market and only transition when you can afford to do so. The same goes for buying or leasing a new car. You may want to have something that screams, "Look at me! I have a job and can pay for things!" but that won't necessarily get you far if it gobbles up a quarter of your paycheck each month.
Do not underestimate the power of a good budgeting app. The best thing you can do on an entry-level salary is not think whatever's left over after bills is fair game. Instead, you should deduct another portion of that amount for savings, which can be broken down further. Have an emergency fund, general savings account and short-term savings goals for things you want to buy in the future. If you know that you want to invest in your financial future but don't think you know how to at this stage, investment apps can help you win at saving without having to be a pro. Delayed gratification is your friend, even if they take a while to show it.
Gain Experience to Earn More Faster
Landing your first promotion may take a while if you don't develop new skills ahead of your competition. Look for opportunities to boost your resume, such as doing free work for friends, building a portfolio and earning additional certifications. Not only does this qualify you for a better pay, but it also expands your opportunities and shows employers that you are a dedicated, driven candidate.
Focus on What You Need, Not What You Want
Don't think that buying everything you want now will bring you happiness or a sense of achievement. In many cases, you wind up owning more than you really need, and you only lament about how much money you wasted later. Get comfortable telling yourself no to avoid the inevitable regret that will follow impulsive late-night Amazon sprees and too many nights out with friends.
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