So you just graduated?
If you thought you’d get snatched up by some multi-billion dollar mega-corporation upon culminating from college, chances are you were sadly mistaken. In this economy, you’d be lucky to get an offer from Popeye’s Chicken. And yet, your bills are piling up, including the newest addition to the stack, the first payment on your student loan. You’re starting to get desperate, but don’t make a noose out of your fraternity tie just yet. There are plenty of ways to deal with college debt until you land on your feet.
Do you need a financial planner?
For starters, think about talking to a financial planner. It is very likely that your campus has both credit counseling services and financial planners to help you sort through your monetary difficulties. Or at least they can direct you to some student-friendly services. They can help you to create a budget that works with the money you do have coming in, although it may involve cutting costs. This leads to the next step: cutting costs. There are dozens of ways to scale back your spending habits. You can start by looking into combined service packages (cable, phone, and internet) or cutting out cable all together. You can also think about sticking to one phone. Do you really need a land line when you have a cell phone? Or cut down the minutes on your phone. Or get rid of the text and pix package. None of these ideas are fun, but let’s face it, you need the money.
Save on transportation
You can also save on transportation. If you live close to work, rediscover the joys of riding a bike. Aside from the initial cost (look on Craig’s List for a cheap alternative to the bike shop), riding a bike is free! And if you live in a place where you rarely have to drive, park your car and non-op it when you get your registration renewal (usually only a fraction of the cost of full registration). On rainy days, resort to public transportation. It’s a lot less expensive than paying for gas, repairs, and insurance. If all goes well, you may even consider selling your car to pay off a chunk of the principal on your loans!
Save on Entertainment
Entertainment is another area you can cut back. Skip going to movies in the theater. Wait a couple months and rent them instead (or just splurge on one a month instead of taking in two every weekend). And start eating in. Dining out will cost you easily two to three times as much as eating at home (not to mention the caloric intake). So settle for a sit-down dinner at home and brown bag it for lunch. This doesn’t mean you have to ruin your social life. Try hosting a pot luck dinner once a week. You’ll still get the social interaction of a meal with friends, and you’ll all save a little money (plus, it’s never too soon to learn to cook).