The Top Tips for Post-Graduation Financial ‘Grad-itude’

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Graduation is an exciting time but it can also bring high financial expectations that don’t always match reality. A competitive job market, lower-than-anticipated income and higher-than-expected costs are just some of the realities facing post-secondary graduates, leaving many with a negative ‘grad-itude’.

A TD survey found that the top financial pressures facing recent working post-secondary graduates are desires to become financially independent (52%), to save money so they can live on their own (39%) and concern over re-payment of their student debt (23%). In addition, 60% often felt guilty spending money on things they wanted versus using the money for other financial commitments, such as debt repayment, when they first started working.

“Today’s graduates are ambitious and motivated, but the realities of the job market can lead to feelings of financial pressure and guilt when they’re unable to afford many of the things they want,” said Sue MacDonald, Associate Vice President of Everyday Banking Products at TD Bank Group. “Setting realistic and manageable goals and seeking advice from a trusted source such as a financial advisor is key to tackling new financial realities and starting off on the right financial foot.”

One of the biggest challenges for new graduates is the fact that two in five (41%) found that it took up to one year to find a job. Once employed, 41% say they earned less than they had anticipated, with many facing unexpected expenses, such as transportation or commuting (33%), meals (25%) and buying a work-appropriate wardrobe (23%). It’s hardly surprising then, that almost half (47%) of recent graduates say they feel anxious or overwhelmed at having to manage their finances on their own.

TD offers the following advice to help graduates reduce stress and still be able to have some fun as they transition to the next phase of life:

Make a plan: What are your short- and long-term financial goals? These can include paying down debt, such as student or personal loans, saving enough money to get a place of your own, or building up a nest egg so you feel financially independent. Decide what’s most important to you and build a plan and speak to a financial advisor at your local branch who can help you with a strategy to achieve your goals.

Set and stick to a budget: Living within your means is always important, especially when discovering new financial realities of post-student life. Remember, you’ll no longer be eligible for student discounts on things like transit passes, memberships or bank accounts. Setting and sticking to a budget and really asking yourself what is essential – like rent and debt repayment – versus what is a want – like travel or a new car – will help keep you on track. Once your budget is set, remember to track your spending. Money management apps, like the TD MySpend app, can be helpful tools since they help keep TD customers aware of certain types of transactions on eligible TD accounts and credit cards, and also provides  notifications of  spend transactions in real-time to help stay on budget.

Look for fun ways to save: Now that you’re earning an income, it’s an ideal time to establish new financial habits to help you save extra money that will help you reach your long term financial goals. When it comes to creative ways to stretch your dollar, below is some food for thought:

  • Plan and prep your meals for the week to reduce the temptation of eating out, or try creating your favourite restaurant’s dishes at home
  • Go for a coffee date instead of dinner or drinks
  • Sign up for an old-fashioned library card instead of buying books; most libraries also have apps for digital book rentals
  • Fake it till you make it by buying gently used or vintage clothing instead of expensive designer outfits
  • Work part-time at a gym or fitness studio in exchange for free classes
  • Rent a car only when you need it instead of leasing or buying one
  • Keep living like a student and save the rest of your money; if you didn’t need the lavish lifestyle before, there’s no reason to start it now

Don’t try and keep up with others: Everyone’s financial reality is different. Avoid trying to keep up with friends or colleagues who may be posting their lavish lifestyles on social media. It’s important to know how much discretionary spending you can afford based on your own situation, rather than trying to keep up with everyone else.

(Source: TD Canada Trust)

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