Freedom! Now that you’ve finally graduated college – it’s time to actually get a real paycheck! No more $300 paychecks from waitressing at the bar. No more $10/hour gigs babysitting your professor’s children. No more scraping by! Right? Right! But this doesn’t mean you should go crazy with spending after college. In fact, it’s best to still live a bit like a college student at this time of your life. Why? Because once you begin elevating your lifestyle, you’re not going to want to go back. So before you level up, make sure you’re absolutely ready. Waiting awhile will allow you to build up a cash buffer. This buffer will keep you from ever falling back into the college kid lifestyle. And that kind of security is priceless. So without further ado, let’s make sure you don’t go crazy with your spending.
Inflate Your Lifestyle in Small Ways at First
Buying a brand new car can be awesome but it probably brings less joy than more inexpensive ways of inflating your lifestyle. So let’s focus on value at this point in your life.
Look to small ways you can add value to your life. What have you really wanted to upgrade? Your laptop? Those are relatively inexpensive. Maybe you’d like to upgrade your cell phone. They are always getting better and since you use it constantly, it’s a fantastic value.
You can also look at inflating less tangible aspects of your life. Consider spending a little more on experiences. This may be saving up for an annual trip to Europe. Or perhaps you’d like to get a monthly massage or pedicure. Or maybe you’d like to buy clothing more than just a few times per year. To properly inflate your lifestyle, you want to first focus on value.
Remember Your Loans
If you’re like most college students, you will have student loan debt. It’s important to remember to pay this. In all honesty, it’s best to limit your lifestyle inflation beyond tiny changes until your debt is paid. Yes, I know this can take some time. But being debit free is a pretty fantastic feeling. Maybe you wouldn’t feeling like you need so many massages if you weren’t carrying around the weight of debt.
Elevate Your Company
After college is when the social rankings start really showing. It’s a time in life where you’re free to join whatever socioeconomic class you’d like. Where will you fit in?
This is important when talking about post-grad finances because who you hang around is who you become. Here’s a fun test to prove my point.
Think of the 3 people you hang around the most. Write down what you believe their income to be. Now add those numbers together and divide by 3. I’m willing to bet your income is that number.
See, we are the people we hang around. That’s why it’s so important to find the right friends after you graduate college. And yes, money does play a big role in doing so. Why? Many reasons.
For starters, you need to physically be around successful people. Successful people live in nice neighborhoods. So you need to get into nice neighborhoods. Paying a lot for housing can be a huge benefit to your life’s trajectory.
It’s also worth spending money on things like conferences, networking events and even meetups you can find on sites like meetup.com. Yes, they cost money. But think about it this way. If you meet one person who gives you one good piece of advice, all of that money you’ve invested will pay off in a huge way. All it takes is one good piece of advice. Maybe someone will convince you to start reading books because they attribute that to your success. So you start reading books and they bring about a huge shift in your life. Don’t you want to experience that shift?
And hanging around successful people also means you must do things they do. These things can be expensive. They may invite you for a spur-of-the-moment trip out to Colorado. Or they may invite you to their beach house. If you want to move up in the world, you’ve got to pay to play. Just be sure the people are truly good influences. If they are just spending their parents’ money, you’re better off hanging out with the hard working kid who grew up in the ghetto. Never take anyone’s lifestyle at face value. You must always investigate the source of their income to see if their persona matches their portfolio.
Shift Your Spending to Match Your New Life
It’s often easy to spot a recent college grad simply by how they dress. They try to look professional. But often their style falls flat. Their hair looks like they don’t know how to style it professionally. It’s apparent they don’t know a good tailor. And they still look a little awkward each time they throw on a blazer. So this is where lifestyle inflation after college comes in handy.
Your life has changed. It’s now time to invest in new areas of your life. Spend money on things you haven’t spent money on before. Buy a professional wardrobe. You may even want to buy public speaking or etiquette classes. Maybe stock up on audio books that teach you about life after college.
If you work in an office, how far do you live from the office? Perhaps you should opt for buying a regular or electric bike instead of driving. Or maybe you can take public transportation. You may have only walked or driven in college but it’s now time to rethink your needs now that you’ve graduated. Remember that as time progresses, so do your needs.
Sell Everything You No Longer Need
If you want more money after college – sell your old possessions. This means selling textbooks, old laptops – everything. Clear out your parents’ house completely. They’ll be happy for it and you also won’t need to go back and do it when you’re 40 and they are moving into assisted living.
And of Course – Focus on Your Income
If you want to/need to inflate your lifestyle after college – that’s perfectly acceptable. Just make sure to inflate your income to match it.
And that’s how to inflate your lifestyle in the right way. You won’t spend too little and you won’t spend too much. You’ll do just alright.
I’m a personal finance freelance writer and webmaster. I welcome you to visit me at www.thefrugalpreneur.com