Graduating from high school or post-secondary is an exciting milestone that many look forward to as a mark of adulthood— it can also be overwhelming and scary to be financially independent from one’s support system.
Girl, we know the pain of opening up that credit card statement every month and not knowing what you’re going to get! That’s why we partnered with Parween Mander AKA The Wealthy Wolfe to empower you with financial priorities after grad, common money mistakes to avoid coming out of college, along with tips and tricks to creating a stylish but professional wardrobe on a budget.
After you graduate, your financial priorities should be to:
1. Build up 3 months worth of emergency savings (rent, utilities, food for the month x 3). That emergency savings fund is your rainy day fund for you to plan ahead for any unforeseen emergencies. It’s a safety net that protects you when an unexpected event - such as job loss or unexpected repairs to your home - affects your cash flow.
2. Pay off that student/credit card debt. The sooner you become debt-free, the sooner you can start using your money for things that you actually want to be using it for. No, that doesn’t mean to finance your impulse shopping trip to Sephora or Urban Outfitters! Canada Student Loans has a 6 month non-repayment period after your school’s last day of exams. During that period, you won’t have to make payments and you won’t be charged interest on your loan. So use that time to start saving!
Pro-tip: Treat debt repayment as non-negotiable, and automate your debt repayments so you don’t even have to think about it by setting up auto-transfer with your bank.
When you buy something on credit, you are borrowing money from your future self, and borrowing money comes with interest! Whenever you can, pay off your credit card in full. If you’re unable to, at the very least you should pay off the minimum amount or your credit score will take a hit.
Money mistakes to avoid:
1. Lifestyle creep as income increases. Going from broke student to having a consistent salary makes you tempted to spend that money. It’s so exciting to have an income! We feel you. Sometimes I feel that I’ve said “treat yoself” way too often for it to be healthy. In order to counteract this problem, create a system in place to avoid it. Anytime you get a raise or bonus, set up a plan for that money to go into debt repayment or savings. You weren’t missing that money when you didn’t have it, so you can live without it while it helps pad your rainy day fund or decrease debt!
2. Thinking you have time to save later. Imagine this: you’re in your early 30’s with a partner, a mortgage and a child/pet/obligations. Your expenses are much higher than when you were flying solo and it’s way harder to save because there simply isn’t a lot to be spared. Future you is kicking past you for not building that reserve of savings when you were in your 20’s. Think about the future; your life is only going to get more complex and expensive so discipline yourself early by setting aside an amount of money from each paycheque.
Pro-tip: Invest early. Your greatest asset is time. The earlier you start investing, the longer your money has to compound and grow. Investing early gives time for your money to multiply without you having to do anything.
If you don’t know how much of your income to save, apply the 50-30-20 rule. Spend 50% on necessities, save 30%, and spend 20% on wants for the month. Of course you can play around with these numbers depending on your salary and needs but this is a good guideline to follow.
How to Create a Workwear Wardrobe on a Budget:
Pro-tip: Practice intentional purchasing by buying only what you need and avoiding spur of the moment buys. Sell your old clothes online, using platforms like Depop or Poshmark then use that money towards buying workwear.
Building your professional wardrobe takes time and money, which we don’t have a lot of when we first graduate. That’s why we created Boss Lady Collective, to curate pieces that are not only professional but you reach for again and again.
Big shoutout to everyone who was able to attend our virtual workshop this Saturday! We’ve uploaded our slide deck and a recording of the event to our Youtube Channel. Thank you to Parween for sharing your amazing tips with us! We certainly walked away with a greater sense of confidence when thinking about money management, and we hope you did too.
Annie, Savneet & Maelin