Unless you are one of a very lucky few, graduating from college doesn’t instantly free you from your “broke college student” lifestyle.
Even if you are fortunate enough to land a great job shortly after graduation, there are probably a lot of new expenses you need to start worrying about–especially if your parents have been helping you out while you were pursuing your degree.
Even if you have been handling things like rent and groceries on your own for a while, you’ll probably need to start paying for things like relocating to a new city and–unfortunately–making those dreaded student loan payments.
The bottom line: Life is really expensive for recent college grads. The upside, though, is that there are plenty of ways to save money that don’t involve dining on ramen noodles every night or moving back in with mom and dad. Here are a few of our favorite, most doable ways to save money after college.
Buy in Bulk
Bulking in bulk may seem counterintuitive when you are trying to save money, but it actually makes a lot of sense. In most instances, you will pay less per item when you purchase large quantities. So, while you are spending more upfront, you are saving in the long run.
Think stores like Costco and Sam’s Club only offer money-saving benefits for large families? Think again. Even if you are living on your own, a membership to one of these stores (or a similar one) will likely pay for itself. While you may not be able to use large quantities of fresh meat or produce before they go bad, these stores sell plenty of non-perishable foods and paper products that will not go to waste if you don’t use them in time.
Buying clothing in bulk can save you a lot of money, too. Whether you need to invest in a new wardrobe for your first post-college job or you are just looking to give your closet a fresh start, buying basics like t-shirts and underwear in bulk will save you big. Wholesale t-shirts cost a fraction of the retail price for single shirts and buying in bulk means you never have to worry about running out.
Save on Socializing
Having an active social life is important but spending time with friends shouldn’t put excess strain on your bank account. Whether you are hanging out with old friends or trying to connect with new ones, the classic “grabbing a coffee/drink” sometime plan can add up fast. It gets even more expensive if you are going out for meals or attending events.
When possible, limit drinking to the weekends. And when you do head out for some adult beverages, give yourself a budget–and stick to it! Rather than visiting the big chain restaurants and bars, check out the lesser-known diners, cafes, etc. in your neighborhood. You are likely to find several that offer much lower prices on meals and beverages than the big-name competitors.
Before you pay full price for a night out, check sites like Groupon. Businesses of all kinds offer great deals on these sites, so whether you want to do something traditional, like grabbing a bite to eat, or you want to try something a bit more adventurous, like an escape room, using Groupon or a similar site could help you have a great night at a great price.
Cut Back on Transportation Costs
Having your own vehicle is great. It makes it way easier to get to work, go shopping and visit friends and family. It also costs a lot of money. Between making your lease or car loan payments, covering the cost of insurance, filling up the gas tank and paying to park, owning a car is not cheap.
If public transportation is available to you, taking the bus or train to get where you need to go may be a bit less convenient, but it will save you a lot of cash in the long run. You can also save on your transportation costs by biking or walking as often as possible. Plus, all that exercise is great for your health and could help you avoid future medical bills!
When having your own vehicle is a must, consider carpooling. Take turns driving or ask everyone to chip in a bit for gas, tolls, parking, etc. Splitting the expenses between two (or more!) people will help you keep more money in your bank account. It may also grant you access to the carpool lane so you can get where you are going faster. Talk about a win-win situation!
Ditch Your Cable TV Subscription
Having a cable or satellite subscription used to be the only way to enjoy your favorite television shows, but that has changed. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu allow you to watch all of your favorites at a fraction of the cost. Even if you subscribe to a few different streaming services, you will likely spend significantly less on them than you would spend on cable.
Stop Buying Full-Priced Items
Being a smart shopper is one of the easiest and most effective methods of saving money. Before you pay full price for anything, do some comparison shopping. Pay close attention to the weekly ads for grocery stores and other retailers, and if you see a great deal on something, stock up. If your store has a loyalty program, sign up.
When you are in the market for big-ticket items, such as furniture or electronics, consider shopping secondhand. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are both great places to find deals on used products that are in excellent condition. If you go this route, just remember to be smart and meet the seller in a public location.
Saving money doesn’t have to be difficult. By making just a few simple changes, you can start saving without making any major sacrifices. Be mindful of how you spend your money, look for good deals, and remember to live within your means–and you will be on your way toward having a much healthier savings account.