What Are Your Goals?After graduation I had to be a 'boring' adult-ish person and create a budget. There are tons of different budget templates you can find all over the internet but it can be overwhelming to find the one that is a perfect fit for you. First, you have to know your goals and what it is that you really want. Obviously gas and student loan payments are a necessity that will have to be paid at one point or another. But travel is also as important to me, just as is making long distance work with my boyfriend.
How Much Are Your Expenses?It all depends on what you have in mind for that 'end' based on your goals and major expenses. My ultimate goal is to move to Spain with one of the programs I applied for and teach English. In the long run it would allow me to be closer with my boyfriend, have a more consistent job, and put me closer to the places I want to travel. This forces me to look into the future, I'm working to save for next year so that during next year I can save for the year after that. While my budget looks forward at where I want to be the next couple of years, it is by no means 'long term.' Most of my 'savings' are being saved for use over the next year or two, not for things like a house one day or retirement. If you're like me and don't have long term saving goals yet, you still have to at least glance into your future to plan your budget. Maybe you don't want to travel, but you want a new car or to live on your own? Estimate those costs and plan accordingly on how much you will need to save to make that happen.
How Much Do You Make?Now that you know your major expenses and what goals you have to work towards/save for, the next step is knowing how much money you make and if it will be enough. If you have a yearly salary, lucky you, then you can estimate the amount you make per month, remembering to anticipate the taxes and such that will be taken out. Unfortunately, many of us recent graduates aren't always lucky enough to have a job that pays a yearly salary. I am one of those grads that makes an hourly wage and it certainly does not help figuring out how much I make each month especially with hours changing monthly and substitute teaching being so inconsistent.
[Now remember to include in your budget some leeway for emergency funds. You never know if you have to go to the doctors, or your car breaks down, or you get abducted by aliens. Surprises happen all the time and the best thing to do is have some extra money saved to dig you out of an unexpected hole.]
Is It Enough?!
Ah the moment of truth for any budget. Will you have enough to afford your hopes and dreams? Or will you become that disillusioned and bitter adult years from now thinking, if only I did this... Just kidding though. That doesn't have to be you! What's the worst case scenario, you don't have enough to do all you want right now and you have to put something on hold? You are never without options: re-prioritize your expenses, look into your goals, or get another job if you can. As I said before, you may have to sacrifice things to curb your spending but if it's for something you really, truly want then it will be worth it. Remember to stay positive and know that most new graduates struggle with finances for a while, keep your head up and keep doing what you do until you love what you do.
I have people ask me how do I make it work for me? How do you travel so much? How do you afford it? Well, I work my a** off. I have three jobs, work at least six days a week, and am already looking for jobs I can take during the summer when school is out and I can't sub or run the after-school program. I make it work because I want it so badly. Sometimes it looks bleak but you just have to hold onto your dreams, even when someone tells you to grow up.
Concluding Budget Tips
- Know your biggest expenses
- Have saving goals and plans
- Prioritize your spending and prepare to have to make some sacrifices
- Think about the future/estimate costs
- Know how much money you make and have to work with
- Have an emergency fund, no matter how small
- STAY POSITIVE!!!