St. Charles Herald-Guide

Don't let YOUR finances get out of control

By Heather R. Breaux - January 17, 2007

Many college graduates may have the diploma and even the job, but their finances often need some work.

And these grads worry about beginning their professional careers in the red - a place where they could linger for years if they don't take control of their debt.

After all, I graduated college with nearly $40,000 in student loans and between home and auto expenses, I know how difficult it can be to make ends meet.

In an effort to educate myself on personal finance and to possibly help other graduates understand the importance of finances, I've compiled a short list of tips to help get your finances under control.

Budget. Scan your bills and checkbook register from the last two months to get a feel for your expenses and create a budget the help monitor your expenses and also provide you with allowances to keep yourself in check.

Pay off debts. Restrain from splurging on a new car or wardrobe - many mistakes college grads make when they first begin receiving a regular paycheck.

Save. Even as you're paying off debts, get in the habit of saving, too. You may need to start small - but even $25 a month put into a savings account is better than nothing.

Be creative. Clipping coupons, looking online for deals and packing a brownbag lunch are all things college grads can do to help bring in a little cash and take the burden off of their debt.

Depending on your personal situation, getting control of your debt could at first seem like a lost cause, but hang in there and in a few months you will begin to see the light - the light at the end of the "debt tunnel" that is.