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::May Edition::

Welcome to the May edition of Financial Friday, Oklahoma Money Matters' online personal finance question and answer forum. This month, we're answering a question about transitioning your finances from college to career.

I'm graduating. Finally! What do I keep in mind to get off on the right financial foot?

Graduating from college marks the beginning of an exciting journey into the world of adulthood. As you step into this new phase of life, setting yourself up for financial success is crucial. Consider these tips to guide you through the steps toward financial independence and success as you transition from student life to a professional career.

  1. Budgeting Is Your Best Friend
    Creating a budget might not sound thrilling, but it's the cornerstone of financial stability. Start by tracking your income and expenses. Allocate amounts for essentials like rent, groceries, utilities, and transportation, and be mindful of discretionary spending. Numerous apps and tools can help streamline this process, allowing you to stick to your financial plan easier.
  2. Establish an Emergency Fund
    Life can be unpredictable, and having a safety net is paramount. Aim to save at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in an easily accessible account. This fund acts as a buffer against unexpected expenses like medical emergencies or sudden unemployment, providing peace of mind in times of crisis.
  3. Manage Debt Wisely
    If you took out student loans, paying them off strategically is essential. Understand the terms of your loans, their interest rates and repayment options. Prioritize paying off high-interest debts first while making minimum payments on others to avoid accumulating excessive interest. For more information on successful student loan management, check out the resources at
  4. Start Investing Early
    Time is your biggest asset when it comes to investing. Even if it's a small amount, starting early allows your money to grow exponentially through compound interest. Explore retirement accounts like a 401(k) or IRA (Individual Retirement Account). Take advantage of employer-matching contributions in retirement plans — it's essentially free money.
  5. Build Credit Responsibly
    Establishing good credit is vital for future financial endeavors. Use credit cards wisely by paying off balances on time and in full, when possible, to avoid high-interest charges. Aim to maintain a low credit utilization ratio (the amount of credit used compared to your total available credit). Regularly checking your credit report helps monitor your progress and identify any inconsistencies.
  6. Don't Stop Learning
    Education doesn't end with graduation. Stay informed about personal finance, investment opportunities and changing economic trends. Numerous books, podcasts and online resources provide valuable insights into managing money effectively. Attend workshops or seminars to further enhance your financial knowledge.
  7. Live Below Your Means
    As you start earning, it can be tempting to upgrade your lifestyle. However, practicing frugality early on can have significant long-term benefits. Differentiate between needs and wants, focusing on saving and investing rather than excessive spending. Remember, financial success often comes from prudent choices and delayed gratification.
  8. Set Clear Financial Goals
    Define short-term and long-term financial goals. Whether saving for a down payment on a house, traveling the world or building a retirement nest egg, having specific objectives helps guide your financial decisions. Establishing clear milestones motivates you to stay on track and makes financial planning more purposeful.
  9. Seek Professional Guidance
    Consider consulting a financial advisor to develop a comprehensive financial plan tailored to your goals and circumstances. They can provide valuable insights, help optimize your investment strategy and ensure you're on the right path toward financial security. To find a certified financial planner, visit
  10. Prioritize Self-Care
    Financial health is interconnected with mental and physical well-being. Pay attention to the importance of self-care. Invest in your health, nurture relationships and allocate time for activities that bring you joy. A balanced and healthy lifestyle positively impacts decision-making and overall financial wellness.

Graduating is an exciting milestone, and setting a solid financial foundation early can pave the way for a prosperous future. For more money management tips to get you started, check out our resources on

As always, if you have money-saving tips you’d like to share, send us an email at or submit a personal finance question for a future edition of Financial Friday.

Thanks for participating in Financial Friday. It's never too late to take control of your financial future!

The OKMM Team

Financial Friday is a service of Oklahoma Money Matters, the financial literacy initiative of the Oklahoma College Assistance Program, a division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

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