5 Financial Tips for Graduating Students

It’s that time of year again: graduation season. Leaving behind being a student and stepping into the real world. While looking for your first job and new apartment, take a moment to implement these tips to get a jump start on your finances … the right way.

1.) Consolidate your student loans. Government consolidation combines all student loans into one monthly payment, which gives you a lower interest rate and may even lower your monthly payments. And if you don’t have a job yet, request a six- month deferment on your loans.

2.) Cut back on small expenses. Going out to eat frequently or making frequent trips to the mall can really add up and be draining financially. Be sure to set up a budget and stick to it.

3.) Build an emergency safety net. Once you start a job, save between 6 to 8 months of living expenses in an emergency fund.

4.) Avoid credit pitfalls. Shy away from relying on credit when you are first out of school. For now, work off of a cash budget to prevent overspending.

5.) Go over your benefits carefully. If you have a job, make sure you fully understand and take advantage of the company’s benefits. Taking out pre- tax money for commuting and health coverage can save money in the end. Also, enroll in a 401(k) savings plan, especially if your employer offers a matching contribution.

Black Enterprise Columnist Jennifer Streaks is a Financial Expert, Author & Pundit. Continue the conversation by following her on twitter @JStreaks or visiting her website www.JenniferStreaks.com.