Home > 2013 > Students

Graduating From College? The Money Tips You Need to Know

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 2 Comments

I once was a college senior.

It was mid-April and I was getting ready to graduate in late May. The thought of moving all my stuff to my first apartment overwhelmed me. What would I keep? What would I throw away? I wish I could snap my fingers and my things would magically pack themselves up and get to my place (which I didn’t have yet), and I could show up with all new stuff.

To top things off, I did not plan to move into to my new apartment until July. I needed to pack to move my things to my parents’ house or in storage for almost two months, and then move them over to the apartment. Ugh. I needed to plan ahead so that I wasn’t going to spend money that I didn’t have or run up my credit card for this outsized expense.

At the time, there was no one beating a drum telling me to get my finances in order. Big mistake! Looking back, I could have been more prepared. I want to share three strategies that would have helped me embrace the excitement of finally leaving school and get my money in order for the next season in my life.

Pull your credit report. Understanding credit as a young adult is important. In order to rent an apartment, a landlord will want to evaluate your credit. They will want to know if you’ve been late paying bills or if your debt levels are too high to afford the apartment. Your credit report will make them feel more — or less — comfortable with leasing the apartment to you. Remember, there is a chance that you’ll be competing to get the apartment with other renters and the better your credit looks relative to others, you will be in a better position to secure the apartment.

If you pull your credit report several months before you have to look for an apartment, you’ll be ahead of the game in case you need to defend any issues or clean it up before your landlord looks at it. You can get your credit report for free from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus once per year. You can also monitor your credit score for free once per month using Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card.

Get a deposit together. In my preliminary search for an apartment, it was apparent that I would need at least the first month’s security deposit. I saw a few listings that required both first month’s and last month’s security deposit. Because I couldn’t afford to pay a lot of money upfront, I made a decision to not rent any apartment that asked for first and last month’s rent as a security deposit. I did the quick math and I was prepared to pay $1,000 for rent, which meant that I had to have $2,000 to fork over by the time I moved in.

Whatever you will be doing post-graduation, you’ll need some cash to get you off to a good start. I thought about asking my parents for a small loan to float me, but I didn’t want to bother them because they already spent four years paying tuition and loaning me money whenever I fell short.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, try to put some money aside from a part-time job while you’re still in school or look for a part-time job when you graduate. Also, some employers offer a sign-on bonus or will pay for partial moving expenses. Make sure you ask.

Get some trusted help. There are thousands of other college seniors getting ready to graduate, so do not think that you’re alone. There are a number of free personal finance resources online that can help you transition into your new life, set a budget and financial goals, and get good money advice. Your 20s is a defining decade, and getting help from resources that are targeted toward you will help set you up for success. Finally, it can also be very helpful if you can partner up with a trusted friend to help you work on your goals, someone who can hold you accountable to making sure you get your money in order before you leave for school.

Image: Wavebreak Media

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • Andrew

    Maybe you can explain what you mean by first and last month’s security deposit? In some places do you need to pay a security deposit every month?

    Every apartment I’ve ever rented, the security deposit is a one time fee paid when signing the lease. If everything checks out when you move out, you get your deposit back.

    • patrick

      It is a one time payment it is just the cost is usually equivalent to the price of those months

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team