[Tips & Tricks] Money Talk

Back in March I wrote up a little post about Student Loans. Well, my friends, my grace period has officially ended, I'm employed full-time, and I'm living on my own.* Without divulging my own specific income and expenses, I wanna talk a little about money. It's not really something you think about in college. It was a small worry in the back of my head, and I rolled my eyes every time tuition increased or how most campus jobs started at minimum wage and maybe peaked at $10 at the most. However, big things, like loans and utilities and phone bills, didn't cross my path.

So, here's how I, whose mother is genuinely worried my retail habits will put me in credit card debt for the rest of eternity someday, have managed to budget myself and prepare for this day of Repayment.**

  1. Get a job right away. Post-graduation get a job. Whether it's beneath your degree or not, get a job. I worked retail at the same store all through college, so I just went back to it for the summer while preparing my departure. Listen, if I can go through the stress of getting hired half way across the world and preparing for that move while working at a job where I had to talk to people with a smile on my face, you can work part-time somewhere and apply to jobs in your field. 
  2. SAVE. Holy moly, this was hard. I didn't save for the last four years (spending money on two study abroad semesters and...online shopping), but I knew I had to squirrel away money for the first few weeks in Korea. I set a goal of $1,000 for myself at the beginning of the summer, putting away roughly $250 of it each pay check. I hate feeling deprived (hence why I worked my butt off at minimum wage campus jobs all sophomore year), so $250 was a good medium. I saved, I bought things I really wanted, and my mother couldn't complain. Did I get a little, unexpected help here and there? Yes, but I never received anything I could not have paid for myself. Once I hit my goal, I lessened it to around $150-200.
  3. Clean out. Seriously, I went through two wardrobe purges before I came to Korea, and there's still a lot I left at home. I had a lot of nice clothes and accessories I'd never use again, so I sold them on Ebay and made a little extra money. Setting up an Ebay account is seriously the easiest thing ever. It's a little bit of a pain in the butt to take the pictures and such, but the extra cash is worth it. You need a lot less in your wardrobe than you think you do.
  4. Create a budget sheet. So easy. Write down what you'll owe each month. My recruiting agency put together an estimated budget for me and I added my own loan payments and such after. I had a full budget prepared long before I started my job. It's nice, too, because my expenses are a lot lower than I anticipated! Excel will become your best friend.
  5. Know what you owe. Actually write down everything you're spending money on if you feel you have to (which I did at first). Whether it's too many visits to the coffee shop or splurging on online shopping, be aware of it. Those Dunkin drive throughs add up. 
  6. Set goals. I kind of like the game of expenses and budgets. I like figuring out how I can still live fairly comfortably and make my payments without issue. I think it's been a lot of learning about minimalism (more on that someday!), and it's looking at things I really want. A weekend in Seoul? A trip to a musical? They cost money, and I enjoy planning the logistics!
  7. Figure out the how. How are you going to pay? Make sure your accounts are set-up on your loan sites and your banks. I get the added joy of figuring out transferring, so I'll let you know all about that in the future! 
Got any tips? Good luck to my fellow post-grads as we enter repayment! Let us never fall into forbearance! 

*Holy crap, less than a year, and I'm kinda-sorta an adult. Next thing you know I'll be married, poppin' out a baby, and raising a cat in a suburban home with 2.5 bathrooms.
**Sounds as foreboding as saying Judgement Day!

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