Graduating college is a big milestone but it can be far less glamorous than you imagine. Last May I graduated with a degree in journalism and was then met with a flurry of questions from family and friends, most of them going something like this: “How are you going to make a living with that degree?” Turns out that was a valid question.
There’s a lot of doubt that comes with graduating, especially when you have a degree in the arts. So I began to think that maybe I chose the wrong major, or perhaps I should sell an organ or two to pay for school loans (I quickly decided not do this). I also realized that maybe I should have learned how to do my taxes sooner and that finding a full-time job isn't as easy as watching Elle Woods get into Harvard Law School.
Becoming an adult always looked enchanting in movies, with characters drinking wine in their high-rise apartments with a view of a glowing New York City. Growing up, my dream was to move to the big city and live in one of those nicely furnished apartments on the 36th floor. It wasn’t until after college that I understood what it took to live in those pretty apartments. You had to get a job that could support the lifestyle and, let's face it, I couldn't afford a month of rent in an apartment like that with all the money in my bank account — let alone the fancy wine. The reality for most of us post-college is not high-rise life, as we sip our boxed wine while curled up in a tiny apartment overlooking the dumpster.
All of this post-grad panic peaked while I was trying to find a job as well as have (and afford) some semblance of fun. The hardest thing to resist wasn't always treating myself, but spending money to have a social life. There seems to be endless birthdays to celebrate and weekend getaways to attend. My friends’ birthdays all tend to fall in the summer months, leaving my bank account pretty empty as I buy gifts and drinks left and right. Then the holiday season arrives in almost no time and my shopping list is as long as Santa’s. Juggling post-grad paychecks and a social life can be a tricky situation, to say the least.
But it doesn't have to be that hard. Here are three helpful tips for balancing post-grad finances and your social life. If you can practice these while you're on the hunt for your first "real" job, then you might find you can actually take a breath and enjoy an escape from the stress you thought you'd left behind in college.
1. Be The Host
Going out is expensive and money gets so easily lost on nights out. So, instead, invite your friends over to your place. While your home may be small, having a couple friends over will feel cozy and intimate (plus you can leave your heat off). My friends are very into board games, so instead of going out, we’d all bring board games to my house and have a potluck. This way I can save money on food and drinks and can have the leftovers my friends end up leaving. If board games aren’t your thing, then make it a dance party or a video game night.
2. Do Your Adult Homework
Sign up for websites that give out group deals, find the cheapest happy hours in town, and discover where you can go without a cover charge. Use the internet to your advantage and find out where you can get the best deals when hanging out with your friends. You can even get your friends to join in and compete with one another to see who can find the best deal. I even enjoy looking up happy hour deals that wouldn’t break the bank now.
3. Be Honest
There shouldn’t be any shame to not wanting to empty your bank account in order to spend time with you friends. A lot of your friends are probably in the same boat, struggling to make ends meet but not wanting to be party poopers. Have an honest conversation with your friends about where you are financially and you may be surprised at how much relief you'll all feel.