Now that many college students have graduated and are settling into post-grad life, they are deciding what and how to use their money. It can be a trying time for these young adults who will begin paying for all their expenses and extracurriculars on their own. It is a scary yet exciting time. With proper planning and adopting the practices below, you will find yourself in stable financial ground in no time.

Know Your Expenses

Post-college expenses seem to pile on rather quickly. There are the necessities like housing, food, clothing, but there are also phone bills, cable/internet, and don’t forget those looming student loans. It is important early on to understand how much money you have going out the door before you can allocate what you can spend and what you can save. Knowing your expenses will also assist you in your job search. Go after jobs that will be able to pay all your bills and leave you with some left over for yourself.

Be Realistic

Knowing your expenses is all well and good, but you also need to be realistic. Do you need to be paying for the fastest internet offered and premium cable? Most likely you do not. You have to be honest with yourself and what you can afford. This also means to watch your spending in recreational areas as well.

It’s Never too Early to Plan for Retirement

Thinking about retirement early can seem like a waste of time, but the earlier you start, the better off you will be. For young people especially, there are plenty of options. One of which is a Roth IRA. This is a great account for young people to start putting away money at a pace that is comfortable. There is a yearly $5,500 cap too, so you have a goal to shoot for.

Additionally, getting in the habit of setting part of your income aside is good to start early. The sooner you get in the habit of not including a designated amount of money in your overall budget, the better off you will be.

Don’t be Afraid to Negotiate

Negotiating is a key skill that recent college grads do not use effectively (or at all) when offered a job. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, but be smart about it! Use resources like Glassdoor to find out what the average salary is and combine that with what you reasonably know that you’re worth. Pick a number and stick to it. If an employer comes back to you with a number out of your range, stick to your guns and walk away. If they really want you and can manage it, they will make it work.

Salary is not the only thing you can negotiate. They may not be willing to budge on salary, but they may be able to include stock options or even more paid vacation days. It does not hurt to ask.

Budget

Now that you have taken into account all your expenses and know what you will be making, set a budget! Set an amount you want to save and immediately transfer it to whatever savings and/or retirement account you choose. Then the money that is left over stick to. You make find yourself with extra wiggle room in your budget, so put extra money aside when you can.

A budget is a great way to keep track of where money comes in and goes it. Budgets can be a real wakeup call of how you are spending your money. Use this information wisely!