Finding Financial Success Beyond Graduation

Those who embark on the journey of higher education will find it an exciting and life-changing experience. Students encounter new freedoms, new learning opportunities, and new friends. However, college life also brings a new set of challenges, especially in finances. College students face a myriad of new financial responsibilities, from tuition and textbooks to daily living expenses, and often manage these expenses independently.

After the countless hours of studying, writing, testing, and finally graduating, these young people begin another new journey and (sometimes harsh) reality. Entering the workforce after college graduation marks a significant milestone and brings another new set of financial responsibilities. These early career years include some of the most important financial decisions they will make in their lifetimes. It is crucial for young adults to establish healthy financial habits to set them on the path to long-term success. Consider the following seven financial tips to start on the right track.


Developing a realistic budget is paramount to financial success. You will have both a new income and new categories of expenses. Understanding and accounting for both will help you see your overall financial picture. Write it all down or use a budget app. Then be realistic about your spending habits and allocate funds accordingly.


With a new job and a new income, it is tempting to embrace a new
lifestyle, an expensive one. I get it. But a six-figure income doesn’t necessitate a six-figure lifestyle. Instead, consider living below your means. Avoid unnecessary expenses like a new car payment; instead, save a portion of your income each month. Living below your means will help you achieve financial freedom and goals more quickly and prepare you for economic hard times.


I’m sure you have heard the old sayings “you cannot outgive God” and
“it is more blessed to give than receive.” Both are true. I have experienced the blessing of giving back to God in my own life. Generosity glorifies God, but it also blesses us as we lay up treasures in heaven and not on earth. The more generous we are, the more content and happy we will be, and the less hold money will have on us.


Life is unpredictable, and unexpected expenses arise. An emergency fund puts a buffer between you and those unexpected expenses. It turns crisis into inconvenience. Your emergency fund is a reserve to cover unexpected expenses and should only be used for true emergencies. Set aside a portion of your income each month until your fund can cover (at least) three to six months’ living expenses.


Many students graduate with student loan debt. If not managed correctly, these loans can cripple your ability to achieve financial goals and freedom. Plan for repayment. Pay extra each month. Stay focused, consistent, determined, and disciplined.


It may be tempting to procrastinate saving for retirement because it seems so far away. However, now is the best time to start saving. If your employer has a retirement plan, sign up for it on day one. Take advantage of employer matching contributions. The earlier you save, the more time your savings has for growth.


Learning does not stop after college. Invest in professional development to enhance your resumé and maximize your earnings potential. Look for ways to learn new skills, increase your knowledge base, and create new growth options. Personal development can lead to increased income opportunities. Entering the post-graduation workforce is both an exciting and daunting experience. Wise financial planning and decisions during the early years can help shape your future and build a strong financial foundation. It takes time and discipline, but it is worth it. Your future self will thank you.

This article was previously posted in the April/May 2024 edition of ONE Magazine.