Anyone who has just graduated from college ought to continue live like how they lived for the past couple of years. Cool, you have a new job and you finally have an income - continue eating top ramen. After doing this, you can save a ton of money and throw it either into your savings for rainy days, or throw it all into your student loans so you can be rid of the ever looming debt over your head. In fact, I suggest that you put much of your money into your student loans for the first couple of years out of college and not give into buying new crap; if you do this, you can expect to pay off your loans within two or three years.
I’m trying to do this myself. I’ve finally got my spending down to just food and bills; I then threw $1000 toward Sallie Mae and I plan on doing this for the next few months. If I keep this up, this means I get to pay off my Sallie Mae debt in roughly a year. Once that happens, I can continue doing the same thing but for my other loans, until it all disappears.
Another thing to keep in mind is to never use credit cards. I’ve never, in my life, used a credit card. The payments might seem easy enough at first, but the psychical burden of having to worry about debt is just not worth it, especially early on in one’s career/academic life. Save your worries for other more important things, like your career or your school work. I take a lot of pride in the fact that I’ve bought nearly everything that I own with my own money - I’ve actually worked to buy my things without having to sink myself into further debt.
Further, buying new things right after getting your first job is fine, but don’t overdo it - make sure that you set yourself a limit to buy maybe one new thing once per month, and then stop buying new things altogether until you’re out of debt (and continue to buy things with your own money! Don’t go back into debt once you’re out of it!) That’s cool that you have a new car and a new game system, but those things only really make you happy for about a month, and then you’ll get over the excitement and have said shiny thing collect dust after two or three months of using it. Instead, take pride in creating things - buying stuff is only a one way transaction, whereas getting yourself setup to create things will both satisfy your happiness for a long time, as well as add value back into the market (that is, if you somehow find a way to market whatever you’re creating. If not, then that’s fine, you’ll still come out ahead in knowledge.) I personally like programming in my free time, and luckily, programming requires almost zero upfront cost in money. I derive a lot of joy from programming, and as such, I don’t really need to buy things to make me happy.
Hope this advice helps someone out there. I’ve had to learn a lot of these things the hard way after struggling with money for a while.
Next up, I’ll write a blog post on preparing for the “real world” from the perspective of a college student.