Personal finances after graduation of college

Lorna Wounded Head is the Family Resource Management Field Specialist at SDSU.

Lorna Wounded Head is the Family Resource Management Field Specialist at SDSU.

Lorna Saboe-Wounded Head, Management Field Specialist, SDSU Extension (She/Her)

Graduation is approaching. 

As you prepare for interviews, secure your job and possibly move to a new location, now is also the time to think about how your financial situation will change. You may not know what your income and expenses will be after you graduate, but there are financial issues to be aware of that you haven’t had to consider while in college.

Student Loans

Federal student loan repayment will begin six months after graduation. Now is the time to check what your monthly payment will be and to consider loan repayment plans. Go to Your login information will be the same you have used to complete the FAFSA application. At this site, you will be able to review the balance of your student loans, learn the monthly payment amount, consolidation options, and repayment plans.  

To learn more about student loan repayment, listen to this podcast: 4 Steps to Loan Repayment ( 


A professional job will mean an upgrade in your lifestyle. Your housing, transportation, décor and entertainment options will expand. Don’t opt for the dream house, dream car or dream travel plans until you have a handle on day-to-day expenses. 

Spending your money to purposefully improve your quality of life and putting extra towards your savings or investing goals can give you peace of mind that will be very worth it.

Emergency Fund

An emergency savings fund is going to be more important than ever. You will have more bills and expenses than you had in college, and you may also have more unexpected expenses, anything from housing, to transportation, to health issues. 

You may have a hard time finding a job right away, or you may work for a company that lets you go during the probation period as they hit budget issues. An emergency fund will be the cushion you need when there is a gap between income and expenses. Work to have at least three months of expenses in the emergency savings account.

Retirement Planning

Even though retirement may seem like a long way off, investing now will have a huge payoff in the future. Take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement plans, especially plans the company offers a match such as 401(k)s. Investing a small amount of your paycheck (1-6%) will add up to financial security during retirement.