How to Save Money as a College Grad [7 Must-Know Tips]

Estimated read time 6 min read

You’re still paying off student loans and finally secured your first entry-level job since graduating. Now, follow these nine tips to build savings!


Saving money in college isn’t the same as post-college. You may not realize that at first. But it soon becomes quite clear that the world outside school has its own rules.

New responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities come into your financial picture. And you start using your income in different ways.

You no longer have that layer of security that comes with attending college, such as shared amenities and meal plans.

So things can get tight pretty quickly.

With a job market that’s not entirely in your favor, you may begin to wonder if it’s even possible to save up this early on in your career.

The answer is “yes.”

Here are essential money‐saving tips for college grads:

1. Take Note of Your Income

Have you ever asked yourself where all your money goes?

Or how you spent it?

That happens a lot when you struggle to grasp how much you’re bringing in. So it’s not enough to say, “I’m earning good money” because the chances of you wasting it are high.

When you know how much you’re making from all your income sources, you’ll have an easier time budgeting.

Knowing the exact amount you earn will also deter you from making unhealthy financial decisions. It’ll also encourage you to save a percentage of it.

Keeping track of your income is the #1 money management lesson for recent college grads!

2. Watch Your Spending

One of the most important aspects of saving is managing your expenses. No matter how much you earn, your financial health is in danger if you’re not wise while spending.

If you enjoy blowing through your pocket money in one night, it’s best to sit in on a financial management class.

Out in the real world, the consequences of irresponsible spending can be dire.

Figuring out your expenses will show you where your money is going and whether you can afford those expenses.

You’re less likely to make big purchases when you’re tracking your spending. That’s because you’ll be aware of your limits.

3. Draft a Budget

Besides watching how much you earn and how much you’re spending, you need an actionable solution to help you stay within your limits.

That’s where a budget comes in.

The second your paycheck arrives, put everything down in writing for the whole month. Then, factor in your bills and savings to see how much you can afford to spend on leisure!

4. Save Money on Housing

It’s fun to start living on your own right after college. You get to enjoy the privacy and the knowledge that you have your own little haven that’s entirely yours.

But does your financial state allow getting a pad without too much strain?

Living on your own is something you have to weigh heavily for one reason:

Renting can be ridiculously expensive, especially if you wish to live closer to work.

The thing is, high costs of living haven’t spared any sector, certainly not housing. You don’t want to spend years of your life working only to cover the rent.

There are two solutions to this housing problem that will allow you to save considerable cash:

Get a Roommate

Team up with a friend or two to share the housing expenses and significantly trim your spending.

Move In With Your Parents

Did you know that a third of young adults aged 18 to 34 still live with their parents?

With the current economic atmosphere, this isn’t surprising. So if it makes sense to you and your parents are cool with it, use those entry-level years to build savings!

5. Avoid Debts

Student loans on their own are a huge burden. And according to one study, over 70% of students who’ve completed their undergraduate degree leave college with student loans.

Keep in mind that the average debt for a graduate in 2015 was over $35,000. And the worst part is that this debt will continue acquiring interest, making this a race against time.

As a graduate, you’re already in massive debt if you went through the student loan system. So the last thing you want is other debts on top of that.

Avoid opening new loans and applying for credit cards, if possible. Instead, weigh the pros and cons and see if it’s worth it.

6. Establish an Emergency Fund

This one is a no-brainer.

Don’t dismiss having an emergency fund. It’ll be like going to war without a weapon. But, seriously, an emergency fund is your safety net for life’s unexpected twists and turns.

One thing’s for sure:

Life happens, and you can’t foresee most of it.

You could lose your job without notice. Or get injured or fall sick. You may also land an opportunity that demands some financial backup at first.

Your emergency fund should equal around six months of your net pay. Use your spare change and discounts to fill up the fund.

7. Start Saving for the Long-Term

Once you have your emergency fund in place, start thinking about long-term savings like a retirement plan.

Remember, there’s a difference between savings and an emergency fund.

Emergency funds aren’t part of long-term savings. In other words, you don’t need to contribute to it continuously the same way you do your savings.

8. Look Into Investments

Money kept aside is money used, eventually.

Sometimes the best way to save is to invest and let your money grow instead of chipping in out of pocket.

Whether it’s stocks or real estate, start familiarizing yourself with investment options available to you.

You have an advantage here:


And an early investment may mean early retirement.

9. Try Couponing

Did you know you can save up to $2,600 on coupons a year?

Even earning a few dollars per grocery trip will start to add up after months and years of regular couponing. You could also save 10% or more on big-ticket items like TVs or furniture!


It’s true that when you’re fresh out of college, the cards may seem stacked against you.

Yet, you can always save some money, no matter how small your paycheck is. If all this info is too much, here’s one final piece of advice:

Live within your means.


Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Grove at Huntsville to help them with their online marketing.


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