The Ultimate Guide to Managing Post-College Life Like a Boss

hept27/Getty Images
Honest Abe

Disclosure:

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.

Graduation is exciting, but it also means you probably only have six months until your first student loan payment is due.

We don’t want you to have to struggle through becoming an adult and loan payment stress at the same time, so we’ve compiled a list of our best advice for recent college grads.

Loans

It’s nearly impossible to graduate college without some form of debt trailing behind you. Here are our best posts on paying off student loans, and what to do if you start to fall behind.

Give Every Dollar a Job

Emily Wynn paid off $11,000 in student loans working a $15/hour job using one simple method: budgeting.

Her biggest tip? Give every dollar a job. Make sure every last cent of your income has a purpose, and know what that purpose is.

Build every expense into your budget, keep watch of your spending and be realistic. Budgeting doesn’t mean you have to skip out on the latest movie — you just have to account for it in your budget.

Don’t Ignore Student Loans

You probably don’t have all the money to pay off your loans right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit idly by: here’s five things you could be doing right now to help repay student loans.

First of all, figure out what you owe. If you’re struggling to keep up with loan payments, you could look into lowering your interest rate by refinancing through a company like Credible.  

You could also begin the quest for a perfect side gig to help earn some extra cash to put towards loans.

After being stuck in the confines of school for the last four years, you may not want to get a job right away. Luckily, there’s a way to travel abroad for free: Join the Peace Corps! They give you a monthly living stipend, health and dental benefits, student loan deferment and a cash payment of $8,000 once you finish your service.

Know Your Loans — and How to Pay Them

If you don’t know the difference between subsidized or unsubsidized loans or just need some general advice on loan repayment, refer to this guide.

Our guide covers applying for and paying off student loans, as well as the different types of student debt. It also breaks down options for federal loan forgiveness, refinancing and repayment.

Don’t Fall Behind: Look Into Refinancing

If you’ve been out of college for a few years and are struggling to keep up with student loan payments, refinancing is a good option to look into. Credible is an independent student loan marketplace that matches borrowers with the best refinancing lender.

Refinancing student loans lowers your interest rate or monthly payments — the average Credible user reports savings of $18,668 over the life of their loans.

Find Side Hustles

This college grad crushed her massive student debt — $68,000 — by taking every side gig she possibly could and cutting expenses down to the bare minimum.

Finding jobs on Craigslist, pet-sitting and even freelance writing are a few solid ways to earn extra cash.

Life

No more dorms! No more cafeteria food! But… now you have to find your own apartment and furniture. Here’s how to make do when you’re a recent grad.

Move to an Affordable City

You don’t have to move to a major city to make a decent salary.

This 2016 Nerdwallet study found the best places for new grads to live based on job options, cost of rent and typical earnings.

What’s the best place for new grads to live? Arlington, Virginia. A few of the other top 10 cities include Madison, Wisconsin; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Don’t Be Afraid to Move Back in with Your Parents

If you’re stressed out about having to find your own place, affording rent or wanting to get a head start on your student loans, you might want to consider moving back in with your parents.

I promise, this isn’t a step backwards — It might actually help you make more money.

A 2017 Trade-Schools.net study found that college grads who move back in with their parents and stay for less than two years earn about $6,000 more than grads who stay home longer. Just make sure to avoid these common mistakes if you end up moving back home.

Become Financially Independent

If you took the tip above to heart, it doesn’t mean you have to constantly ask your parents for money. You still need to get a job, build your credit and start budgeting (sorry, no, but you can’t accept an allowance from your parents).

To work towards financial independence while living at home, you can start with buying your own groceries, saving for future rent payments and even paying for your own Netflix or Hulu account.

Furnish Your Apartment Without the Hefty Price Tag

We both know you should be focusing all your cash on student loan payments, but you probably still want to feel like a (somewhat) well-off adult.

Adult must-haves include a decent mattress (head for the discount section), a sturdy bookshelf (there are tons on Craigslist) and a set of dishes (thrifting, anyone?).  

Once you’ve put a dent in your loans, maybe you can consider purchasing nicer furniture. For now, though, quick cheap finds will furnish your new apartment just fine.

Don’t Fall Short on Rent Money

College students are known for being broke even if they don’t have rent to pay. Finally being an adult is exciting, but it’s not easy making rent money.

Let’s be real — you’re not ever going to open your Comp I textbook again, no matter how much you think that chapter on proper citations will help. We have the internet for that now.

If you still have a ton of college textbooks laying around, sell them on Bookscouter. Just type in the ISBN and Bookscouter searches tons of websites to find you the best buy back price.

Utilize Your .edu Email Address

Not only does a .edu email address make you look professional, but it can also score you awesome deals. Save on anything from music streaming services to software or a 50% off Amazon Prime membership.

Jobs

A decent job is the main reason most students attend college in the first place, so you’re going to want to find a good one.

Download the LinkedIn Students App

The LinkedIn Students app is geared towards new college grads. It serves as your “Personal job exploration guide” by providing you with job recommendations, showing where your school’s alumni are employed and offering career advice.

Basically, it helps you find a job that’s right for you. It’s a bit more personalized than the regular LinkedIn website.

Find a Job Career

2017 is a great year to finish college — this article lists 10 companies hiring thousands of entry level positions the year. A few recognizable companies include Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hertz, Bank of America and even the FBI.  

Don’t be afraid to seek post-college advice — we’re all just trying to figure out life.

And if you’re still in college, check out our post on how to make and save money as a college student.

Your Turn: When do you graduate college? Would you try any of these methods?

Disclosure: This one time, Kyle came into the office with $6 worth of Taco Bell that he planned to eat over the course of three meals. By clicking the affiliate links in this post, you help us help Kyle seriously ease up on the Taco Bell.

Jacquelyn Pica is an editorial intern at The Penny Hoarder. She’s almost a college grad and still (shamelessly) lives at home.

Honest Abe

Disclosure:

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.