Download the Schwab app from iTunes®Close

Financial Advice for College Graduates

Click to show the transcript

Dear Carrie, I just graduated from college and I’m a total novice at money.  How can I get a handle on things?


First, congratulations on your big achievement. No doubt about it, being on your own for the first time can be stressful. Trying to manage everyday expenses like rent, groceries, student loan payments, on top of other expenses is challenging. I know all this might be intimidating, but this is an exciting time in your life. And the good news is you can get a handle on your finances. Here are my top three tips to get you there. Live within your means. This is critical. Many people go into debt because they’re living like rock stars.  The best way to live within your means is by creating a budget and tracking your spending. Once you know how much you need for essentials, like food, rent, savings, you can direct what’s left toward the fun stuff and decide if you’re willing to make the tradeoffs. Spend mindfully. You’re probably thinking what does that even mean? It means be aware of where your money is going and where you want it to go by setting goals, writing them down, and making sure that you spend accordingly. Save, save… and have I said save? Make saving a line item in your budget. It’s okay if you start by setting aside a few extra dollars each month. Just be sure you’re working toward saving for really important things, like building an emergency fund to prepare you for anything unexpected. Helping build a lifestyle you want, especially as you get older.  Retirement may seem far off, but as a young person you have the advantage of growing money over time. And have fun. Go on a well-deserved vacation. You may feel like you’re a money novice now, but I promise you, if you dig in, it won’t be as tough as you think. It’s a life-long pursuit and you’re in the driver’s seat.  You got this. For more suggestions, check out my Ask Carrie column.

Whether you’re a recent college grad, starting your first job, or just trying to get a handle on your finances, these basic money skills make for a solid foundation. Watch for advice on how to get your finances on the right track, and check out the Ask Carrie column: Top 10 Financial To-Dos for Today’s Grads.

What you can do next:

  • Explore other Ask Carrie videos and articles on personal finance.

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. The investment strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. Each investor needs to review an investment strategy for his or her own particular situation before making any investment decision.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

Examples provided are for illustrative purposes only and not intended to be reflective of results you can expect to achieve.


Thumbs up / down votes are submitted voluntarily by readers and are not meant to suggest the future performance or suitability of any account type, product or service for any particular reader and may not be representative of the experience of other readers. When displayed, thumbs up / down vote counts represent whether people found the content helpful or not helpful and are not intended as a testimonial. Any written feedback or comments collected on this page will not be published. Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. may in its sole discretion re-set the vote count to zero, remove votes appearing to be generated by robots or scripts, or remove the modules used to collect feedback and votes.