Hit pay dirt with generous graduation gifts? Put that money to good use so you can kick-start smart money management habits and enjoy your post-grad life.
1. Pay off debt
It’s not glamorous, but it can reduce financial stress. Putting your graduation payday toward high-interest debt can help you shake the burden of debt payments sooner and save hundreds—even thousands—in interest.
Stuffing your life into a backpack and hitting the road will never be easier than it is right now, before you have a demanding career, a mortgage or a family. Plus, traveling can be an investment. Enriching life experiences give you something unique to talk about in job interviews when you return.
3. Gear up
Think about the kind of job you’re looking for and what you’ll need to succeed. Maybe you need a new laptop or software, maybe a wardrobe upgrade or a car. Spend on “need- wants” before you start thinking about “want- wants.”
4. Plan ahead
Just as important as paying off debt is building your rainy day reserves. Set aside your gift money as a first installment in your emergency fund and keep adding to it until you have enough to cover three to six months of living expenses.
The biggest advantage you have in saving for retirement is time. Start investing early by opening a Roth IRA, using your graduation money as a first deposit. From there, set up automatic transfers on payday to make deposits into your retirement account and it’s like your money is saving itself.