The Graduates Survival Guide for Financial Independence



The caps are in the air and they’ve finally did it! Family and friends are congratulating your graduate left and right and they are excited to move onto the next milestone in their life, either to college or the real world.

With another turning point in anyone’s life comes more responsibility.  Graduation from high school or college in particular involves a greater deal of financial liability.

Wallkill Valley Federal Savings and Loan is here every step of the way for your graduate’s journey.  Below are some helpful tips to ensure the graduate’s financial success.

High School

Making a Budget and Tracking Spending

Making a budget is the first step to being financial independent.  Even if you do not have many expenses yet, it helps to start budgeting so as you get older you have a solid foundation.  A budget will also allow you to see where exactly your money is going to. 

Commit to Saving

One of the easiest ways to save money is to include saving in your budget.When you make that decision, you will automatically be putting money into your account without even thinking about it.It will just be included as part of your monthly expenses.

Use Paper More than Plastic

No, we aren’t talking about recycling.  As tempting as it might be to just swipe a credit card, research shows that we are more careful with our spending if we have cash.  However, credit is not bad when used carefully.  If you choose to use credit, give yourself a hard limit of how much you want to swipe each month. 

Begin to Accept Personal Financial Responsibility

Graduating high school is a very big first step to being on your own.  While it may be tempting to call Mom and Dad to ask for a couple bucks, having an emergency fund is the best way to know you will be okay if you need some extra money. 


Know Where You Are and Get a Head Start

The thought of seeing how much you owe on your student loans can be extremely scary.  However, knowing the total amount you borrowed can allow you to start a plan to conquering them.  Don’t wait until six months after you graduate – the sooner you start paying off your loans the lower the amount of interest you will have to pay is.

Avoid More Debt

Paying back student loans is a huge financial commitment.  So although you might be tempted with taking out a loan for that fancy new car or charging plane tickets to Australia, those decisions might hurt you in the long run.  If you start missing payments on things it will seriously damage your credit score – which will prevent you from borrowing in the future.

Adjust Your Budget  

College graduation comes with a lot of financial responsibility.  For most, it will probably be your first time on your own.  You need to go back to the budget you hopefully had for yourself in college and include all your new expenses such as rent, student loan payments, and more. It is important to get your budget up-to-date.

  Set New Financial Goals

While going into the real world can be scary, it is also a time for brand new opportunities.  Set new financial goals for yourself and start saving.  Whether it be for a new apartment or car or to finally pay off your student loans, having goals will guide your financial decisions and make you spend smarter.


At Wallkill Valley Federal Savings and Loan, we want to help each graduate build healthy financial habits and their path to success.  If you need more advice or do not even know where to start we are more than happy to help. For us it is all about putting community first.  Give us a call today.