Life After College is Still Expensive

A few years ago I graduated from college and I did not realize the amount of money I would need to spend over the course of the next three months. There are, unfortunately, numerous expenses associated with graduating from college — from finding your own apartment to feeding yourself — that many people should be aware of before venturing out on their own.

Here’s what I learned during those three expensive months:

Start saving for your security deposit as soon as possible.

If you’re planning on moving to a new apartment, especially if you plan on living alone, the security deposit on your new place is going to be one of your biggest up-front costs. Security deposits can be as much as one month’s rent or even up to a month’s rent plus half. For example, if your new apartment costs $600 a month, your deposit could be anywhere from $600 to $900.

The good news is that if you left your former apartment in good shape, you should get most of that deposit back. And while that deposit you paid last year may be enough to cover all or some of your new deposit, you shouldn’t rely on that chunk of change to get you by. Your previous landlord may decide to keep a portion of your money for cleaning fees; or maybe your new move-in date is before the 30-day repayment period is up (some states have different regulations so check you state’s renters’ rights).

The best thing you can do is to anticipate having to pay your new security deposit in full. Start researching the area you’re interested in moving to and what the average costs of deposits are (craigslist is great for this), then start saving as much as you can. Remember that some places require first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit before you even get the keys.

Don’t forget about furniture for your new place.

I’ve always lived on my own, even in college. My college apartment, however, was already furnished when I moved in. So when I moved to my new place and it didn’t come with furniture, suddenly I was facing expenses I hadn’t taken into consideration. I definitely didn’t have the money for the $700 couch or $300 table that the local furniture store was selling. This lack of foresight led me to have a couchless home for the better part of a year.

Eventually I realized I didn’t need fancy furniture. I was probably going to be moving again in a few years anyway, so I bought an inexpensive futon, a card table that served as my kitchen table and I got a free living room table from a friend. The most money I spent was on my bed, and even then I bought a floor model which saved me a couple hundred bucks. However, that extra cost still hurt my wallet.

Moving can be expensive, too.

You’re going to need boxes, a moving truck and money for gas to put in that moving truck. If you’re lucky, your new employer may offer a moving allowance (like mine did) that will help cover your costs. But if they don’t, you’ll want to budget for whatever it costs to move out of state or even just from city to city. Compare the cost of hiring a moving company versus doing it yourself — or you know, offer pizza to that one friend with a truck.

Save money to get you through the wait for your first paycheck.

If your move after graduation is job-related, you’re going to need to be settled and ready before your first day. That also means you may be going a month or two without a paycheck until that job begins and your paycheck comes through. If you don’t know how much to save, at the very least put away what it takes you at this very moment to survive. If you can, add a little extra into an emergency fund — you never know what extra expenses could pop up.

Graduating from college is an exciting and promising time as you look toward your future career. Just remember that it’s going to cost some money to get you to where you need to go. Plan ahead, do your research and don’t forget to have a little fun because hey, you graduated!

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