Were the press to be taken at face value - always a terrible idea - it would seem only students have financial woes, as if every graduation ceremony involved not only a mortarboard and an awkward stumble across a stage but a cash prize too. If only.
Even when graduate finance is addressed, suggestions tend to be infuriatingly patronising - ie: 'Get a job' (Huh, it hadn't even crossed my mind...). Below are ten usuable suggestions for any graduate too scared to come to terms with their bank balance (that'll be all of us, then...)
1. Swap bank accounts
Swapping to the right bank account can save a wealth (boom boom) of charges and interest and all sorts of unpleasantness.
Banks see high earning potential in graduates and accordingly offer attractive accounts in order to lure customers in - importantly, you'll continue to have the life-saving interest free overdraft which would otherwise be cut off. Look into swapping now - and go for the biggest interest-free overdraft available. Do your best to ignore the freebies, which are little more than cheap distraction.
2. Look into credit cards
No - trust us on this one.
Credit cards are the devil melted down - isn't that what you've read? Time to change your thinking - it simply isn't true. Certainly, in the wrong hands, they can practically slingshot a person into debt but handled with a little care, they give a little breathing room for payments.
Choose wisely and your credit card could offer up to 18 months interest free, meaning they can be the cheapest way to borrow. You're looking for a high credit limit (more money) and a long interest-free period. The golden rule, of course, is to always, always pay off your card. Stick to this and you'll have money more readily available when you need it.
The interest-free period means if you make a minimum payment one month, you won't pay interest on what's left owing, giving a little more time to pay back should you need it. It's not a healthy practice to maintain but stops you breaching an overdraft and facing punishing bank charges.
3. Cut out the travel costs
Transport costs empty wallets without anyone really noticing: it's all too easy to spend more than is affordable almost accidentally, in bus fare sized drips and drabs.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to save: a 16-25 railcard will cut a third off every fare, book up your trains twelve weeks in advance, hook up your Oyster to the 16-25 railcard to cut your tube fare, 'split the fare' to save an extra couple of quid, and try coach travel (National Express frequently offer £5 fares). You can even save a little on petrol, by heading to the cheapest local petrol station - there are plenty of apps which provide this info.
4. Use cashback
To get rich...
'Cashback' seems a rather dubious concept - the epitome of 'too good to be true'. It works, though: shop through a cashback website such as Top Cashback and you'll likely save around 10% on most purchases. If you're a little sceptical, check out these 15 reasons you really, really need cashback.
5. Cash in on student discounts
'Student' discounts can often be used by graduates, too.
The best way to shop is to use offer and discount sites. It depends on the deal but for instance, if nail polish is reduced from £12 to £3, rather than buy one, pick up four. You'll spend no more than the original price but the long term saving is far greater.
Of course, in providing all these discounts, the sites do represent a little temptation - don't simply buy because things are offered. Stay savvy.
6. Give up the gym
If you are working, don't be churlish about accepting drinks from your boss on a Friday... consider it the pre-lash you aren't paying for. Don't be snobby about where you buy your drink from, either: Lidl is a reasonably well-kept secret for excellent wine and spirits which are far cheaper than comparative brands and far better than those at equivalent prices.
8. Budget without a plan B
Yawn. But still - vital stuff.
As a student, if things were dire, there always seemed to be a plan B, even if that meant praying to the bank of mum and dad. As a graduate, there are fewer and fewer second chances. Budget to account for everything and spend in cash only - watching your money dwindle away will really, really turn you off impulse spending.
If you're unsure how to really manage your money, get off to a good start with these 9 must-dos for budgeting.
9. Do the little things
All those life lessons which struck you as unnecessary before really must be adhered to now. These little tips require no effort and will save you a little each day:
• Turn off the lights
• Leave soap away from water (it dissolves 50% more quickly when wet)
• Freeze leftover wine (if that's a real thing...) in the ice-tray. The cubes are crazy delicious with lemonade as a summer drink, or they can be used in cooking. Either way, it's much better than leaving the wine to go off.
• Don't be put off by supermarket own-brands. Try downgrading one level and see if you notice any difference - if not, stick with the 'lower' product and pocket the saving. The only real difference is in the packaging - remember, supermarkets are chasing profits so they deliberately encourage you to pay more.
• Give up expensive multi-blade razor for a classic double blade model - 10 replacement blades cost £5, rather than £20 a time. Well worth investigating. Alternatively, sharpen your multi-blade by 'shaving' a leather strop (an old belt will do....) or down a pair of jeans. It won't ruin the jeans but it will keep those blades fresh.
Small things, but they all add up.
10. Cut the vices
You already know all this - but it's still worth repeating. Step away from the cigarettes, quit the coffee and put down the pint. These are where most of money is squandered, which is probably why buying them elicits a vague guilty feeling. So here's another reminder: Stop. Wasting. Your. Money.