5 Expenses I Didn’t Expect After Graduating

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Graduating is even harder than it looks.

I am one of the lucky ones who found my first job right out of school. But that secretly meant my living expenses suddenly skyrocketed after I had to buy a used car, move away from home and find and furnish an apartment.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew those purchases would be way more expensive than the usual trip to the grocery store. But there were so many details I didn’t even realize existed. It was a crash course.

Now I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Here are the random expenses that hit me after graduation, plus how I survived a rocky first few months so that I remained intact before my first adult paychecks could make an impact.

1. Moving Costs More Than You’d Think (But There’s a Hack for That)

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

When I graduated I lived on campus, but I still somehow had a lot to move into my first apartment. The first thing I did was figure out if anyone could help me move. In return for snacks, my friends and family were happy to offer some manual labor. I got lucky!

But when I got a job, it ended up being located out of state. So to save money, I figured out I could rent a truck and tow my car behind it, and only hire movers to do the lifting. Getting your own vehicle and hiring labor separately for either end of your move (Hybrid Moving) costs less than Full Service moving and varies dramatically in price, but the average cost is around $660. It’s an added cost, but plenty of critical time saved, which I needed.

HireAHelper lets you compare the price of movers and customize everything, from how many people help you move to what arrival time window you’ll need. The more options you can compare for a moving process the better, as every move is going to be a little bit different.

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How can someone so young take on that expense? Well, I barely had enough to cover the move, but here’s another thing I learned — many employers offer reimbursement for moving expenses! Make a note to talk with your new employer and ask if they make a similar offer. It was a lifesaver when my company helped me out so that I could put my money toward the next round of expenses!

2. Crossing State Lines Can Mean More Fees

When you move to a new state, you’re going to have to get a new state license and plate for your car. The steps will be different depending on your move, but you can check out the process for your specific state online to know what prices you’re in for.

I had to fill out paperwork and pay fees for the process of:

  • Getting an updated title for my car
  • Printing a new plate
  • Creating a new license

All of it cost about $200! Plus, there was the time it took to go to the DMV, get my new emissions test and talk with my car insurance company about my new address and license information.

Call the DMV where you’ll be moving to ahead of time for clarification because it really is a lot to deal with when you’ve never done it before. It definitely was for me.

3. Even My Used Car Had a Major Price Tag

An approximation of how getting your first used car looks.

When I was in school, I used my parents’ old car to get around to my part-time jobs and the grocery store. But after college, I knew I had to get my own ride. I’d been saving up for a while and figured I could negotiate the price of the car down to what I had in my savings account, but it turns out there’s so much more to it than that.

The only thing I knew about buying a car before I walked into the first dealership was that you have to negotiate your final price, but fees and taxes can’t be worked down. The dealer had to explain things like document fees and dealer fees, plus the sales tax. (Again, every state will be a bit different, though some fees are the same across the board.)

It’s smart to save up some extra cash to cover these fees since they’re non-negotiable. While you’re getting your down payment together, take steps to research what these expenses will be so you can better plan for the total cost of a car.

Lastly, make sure you can handle the monthly payment. While I saved enough for a hefty down payment, I did have to take out a small loan to cover the rest. I automated my car payments through my bank once my regular paychecks started rolling in so I would never risk jeopardizing my credit score with late payments.

4. My First Student Loan Payment Shocked Me

The amount I had to take out in student loans wasn’t nearly as drastic as what some of my friends had to sign for—proud state school grad here—but there are ways those loans can pull you into paying more than you originally borrowed. For starters, I had no idea what capitalizing interest was. Basically, it’s interest that’s triggered by specific events and causes your monthly payment to not even make a dent in your overall debt. The debt increases while your payments stay the same.

I also began to panic when the loan bills came in. I hadn’t even earned my first paycheck with my new job yet, so how was I supposed to pay $350 a month after already paying for moving and buying a car?

That’s when I started to research how to consolidate my loans, and it really saved me. The Department of Education can consolidate multiple federal loans with one fixed interest rate, which streamlines the process and extends your repayment period. Rather than juggling multiple payments, I just had to worry about one.

You may also consider private refinancing if you’ve landed a steady job and worked to build a credit score of at least 690. This can both consolidate your loans and lower your interest rate — but isn’t necessarily always the best choice for recent grads. Do your research! 

(So I Learned a Budgeting Trick)

Sure, I’d managed my own bills in college, but between forthcoming loan payments and the costs of moving and a higher rent, I saw my expenses skyrocket. 

So I did some research online and began militantly tracking all of my income and expenses with a Google spreadsheet. I vowed to follow the 50/30/20 budget, which stipulates that half of my earnings pay fixed expenses, 20 percent goes to debts and savings, and 30 percent is reserved for variable expenses like groceries and light spending.

TheBalance.com

It’s tempting to have your paychecks come in and put all your extra cash toward one big thing like a savings account or credit card debt, but metering it out will help you tackle everything at once. Building my savings while decreasing my debt has helped me more in the long run than just choosing one over the other.

Now, my healthy savings account means a minor emergency like a car repair doesn’t trigger any anxiety. After upending my meager college savings to move, a steady and dependable tracking system soothed my nerves and helped me navigate this whole new world.

5. Filling Up a New Apartment Drains Your Wallet

The process of finding my apartment was easy since everything is online now. I could map out how far each apartment complex was from my work and not have to worry about it being too far away. Actually getting settled was a whole different story.

I had to buy all my own furniture, and you can bet that I didn’t have the money to do it all at once! For a little bit, my apartment décor consisted of a mattress on the floor and the most basic kitchen supplies. A good list of basic apartment supplies you’ll need will consist of:

  • Plates and bowls
  • At least two or three of each type of silverware
  • A trashcan
  • Dish soap and a sponge
  • Toilet paper
  • Basic cleaning supplies (e.g., broom, cleaning solution)

Don’t panic if your apartment doesn’t feel like home for a little while. Getting more than the basics will take time, but eventually, your new fancy budget will help you get everything on your list, and your apartment will gradually feel more like a home and less like a living space. 

Plus, if you have a roommate, that makes your quest to fill the space of essentials even easier! Me? I bought myself a couch from a killer Amazon Prime Day deal—and I’ve been treating myself with one apartment item a month since.


Some of the above surprise costs were never mentioned to me because I didn’t know to ask about them.

Give your post-college world about six to eight months to settle down. Now, I’m much more financially secure and living in a home that feels cozy and welcoming. I’m finally ready to put some money into my travel fund and I don’t sweat the occasional sushi dinner. For now, you just have to buckle in and prepare for a crazy ride after that diploma lands in your hand.


Holly Welles is a millennial-focused real estate writer and the editor behind The Estate Update. For more home tips and financial advice, subscribe to her blog for even more financial advice.

How Moving Helped Me Pay off $107,000 in Student Loans

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Student loan debt is higher than ever, with 44 million Americans owing $1.48 trillion on their student loans. In fact, the average Class of 2017 graduate left school owing $39,400.

Assuming a 4.45% interest rate and a 10-year repayment plan, a balance of that size would require a monthly payment of $407.

That’s a serious burden for new graduates, let alone anyone facing today’s sluggish wage growth and sky-high rent.

So here’s an out-of-the-box idea for conquering your student loans: Move to another state. I moved from New York City to Austin, Texas, and it helped me pay off $107,000 in student loans.

Here’s how this decision helped my finances, along with surprising reasons why relocating could help yours, too.

Moving seriously lowered my cost of living

Andy Josuweit, CEO of Student Loan Hero

I attended Bentley University and majored in managerial economics. My degree helped me start my business, Student Loan Hero, but it also left me saddled with $74,000 in student loans.

In total, I had 16 different loans from four different loan servicers, none of which helped me understand my repayment options. I put some of these loans into deferment, only to watch my balance balloon to $107,000.

Between the stress of carrying all this debt and the challenges of starting a business, I realized that living in New York, one of the country’s most expensive cities, might not be the best idea for my finances.

In 2015, I decided to move to Austin. I’d heard the quality of life there was great, and I loved its mix of urban culture with outdoor activities. Having grown up in rural Pennsylvania, I was drawn to a city that still had trees and nature.

Plus, the cost of living in Austin was a lower than in NYC. In New York, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,070, according to Apartment List. But in Austin, the median cost is just $1,120, nearly half that of New York.

Overall, Numbeo found that rent prices in New York are 97.6% higher than in Austin. Even groceries are 47.26% higher in the Big Apple!

Besides enjoying more affordable rent and food, I also saved money by not owning a car my first two years in Austin. I mainly relied on my bike to get around.

Of course, this might not be an option for a lot of Americans, especially for those who don’t live in cities with many options for public transportation.

In my case, though, giving up my car helped me reach my financial goals.

Relocating could help you save on state income taxes

Decreasing my cost of living wasn’t the only reason I saved money by moving to the Lone Star State. My tax bill also decreased significantly, since Texas doesn’t have state income taxes.

It’s one of seven states that don’t have an income tax. The full list includes:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Additionally, New Hampshire and Tennessee only tax interest and dividend income, which is money you make from stocks or mutual funds.

Between lowering my cost of living and eliminating state and municipal income taxes, I saved over $15,000 by relocating to Austin. Thanks to these savings, I was able to make extra payments on my student loans.

“If you put those savings toward your student loans, you could get out of debt 67 months earlier and save $7,193 on interest.”

As a result, I started to see my student loan balances go down. Not only did I save money on interest, but I also watched my six-figure balance return to a manageable level within a year.

I had been tackling my balance as aggressively as I could since 2013, and moving to Austin helped me pay it off even faster. In August 2016, I made my last payment on my student loans.

How much you save

Since my move helped my finances so much, I was curious about what impact a similar strategy could have for other Americans. To find out, Student Loan Hero conducted a study on the financial impact of relocating to a state with no state income taxes.

Student Loan Calculator

We learned that moving to a state with no income tax would save the average person $1,977 per year. We also found that nearly one out of three people said they would move to an income tax-free state if it meant they’d save money.

Although this number seems fairly high, it’s not all that surprising that debt, taxes, and finances affect where people choose to live.

If you’re interested in how moving could affect your finances, check out the state tax savings calculator in the study. It compares costs between two states and reveals how moving would impact your student loans.

If you’re considering a move, be sure to compare the cost of living between your current and prospective cities. But if you’re focusing on state income taxes, the calculator reveals how much you could save year to year.

For example, let’s say you’re living in Oregon and making $60,000 per year. You only have one exemption, and you owe $25,000 in student loans at a 5.70% interest rate. By moving up to Washington, you could save $4,777 per year on state income taxes.

If you put those savings toward your student loans, you could get out of debt 67 months earlier and save $7,193 on interest.

Should you move to pay off your student loans faster?

Although I’ve been discussing how much you can save by moving to another state, there are expenses involved in relocating. For one, you have to pay for the move itself. Plus, you must make sure the new destination has job opportunities in your field unless you’re capable of working remotely.

If you’re considering a move, ask yourself these essential questions:

  • Can I find a job in my line of work?
  • Can I work remotely in my current role?
  • How much in moving expenses will I have to cover?
  • What will my new cost of living look like?
  • Is the new state a good fit for me in terms of climate, culture and other factors?

You might also estimate your moving costs with HireAHelper’s moving cost calculator. This tool gives you a quote based on your old and new zip codes so you can prepare for the expenses of your move. The great news is that there are many moving options to considerably lower your moving costs, which you can read about here.

Moving Cost Calculator at Moving101.HireAHelper.com

As long as you’ve done your due diligence, moving could be a smart financial move. With the money you save by choosing an affordable city over an expensive one, you could pay off your student loans ahead of schedule and move closer to a debt-free life.

Saving money, by the way, might not be the only perk in moving. In Austin, I now enjoy 228 days of sunshine, not to mention some of the best tacos I’ve ever had.


Andrew Josuweit Bio: Andrew Josuweit is CEO and Co-Founder of Student Loan Hero. After he graduated with $107,000 in student loan debt, he realized he wanted to help others become debt-free and financially independent.

Hello, World! 8 Tips For ‘Adulting’ After College

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My last six months of college passed in a blur. I spent most days filling out graduation paperwork, meeting with professors, trying to find a job while working at my current one, not to mention making sure to call my parents at least once every two weeks. I wanted life to slow down for a minute, but alas, it never did.

It seemed only to get faster and faster, and I—well, I worried. I knew I should feel excited about graduating from college, and I did, but I still felt a bit of dread. But I beat that fear back and successfully moved on from my college life by using a straightforward process: I addressed each of my concerns point by point, then used the following tips to make the transition much smoother.

1. Start Your Job Search Before You Actually Graduate

Most college seniors and grads eventually ask, “How am I going to pay for everything?” I know that I raised the question many, many times. So I addressed it by starting my job search early—nine to ten months before graduation. This is when it pays to have a close relationship with your advisor. But don’t freak out if you haven’t been keeping up with them, since it’s never too late to go to them and ask for leads on careers.

Sure, I wish jobs fell off trees like apples in the spring, but they don’t. Jobs have to be plucked, usually with a lot of ladders and a lot of climbing, so it’s best to start the hunt early.

2. Networking Isn’t Just a Buzzword, It’s a Real Thing You Have to Do

I used to scoff at the whole “it’s who you know” thing, but the idea holds merit. I got my first job because hands shaken and conversations held in person, as well as through online connections. To start, make sure you start a LinkedIn account and add your professors and people you’ve worked with. Then go to every job-oriented event that your college offers. 

I looked at my wardrobe, too. It sufficed for casual events, job fairs, and my job at a boutique, but it needed some polish so I could present myself more professionally in front of potential employers. Just make sure you’re always presentable and presenting.

3. Figure out How Exactly to Adopt Finances for the Real World (There’s an App for That)

I also looked at my finances, something I hadn’t had to think about much during college. I earned enough money from a part-time job to buy a new pair of shoes or go out to dinner with friends. I realized, though, that I needed a better sense of how I spent my money before heading into the real world.

To accomplish that, I researched some financial apps like Mint and Venmo and chose the one that worked best for me. It helped me balance my checkbook, pay freinds easier, instantly figure out a budget by connecting to my bank, and find places to save money. I can’t believe I wasn’t already using some of these!

4. Adopt a New Schedule (AKA Start Waking Up Earlier)

As a kid, I always hated the end of summer because it meant my mom would reinstitute morning alarms and bedtimes. But the routine helped me slip into school mode once my college courses started. Yep, the same is true with life after college. By adopting a schedule before I officially graduated, I woke ready for the day and whatever it held, even that 6 a.m. spinning class.

5. Start Going to “Next Stage of Life” Stores

I love, love, love Pier One, but I couldn’t buy most of their home décor as a college student. I still can’t afford a lot of it on an entry-level salary, although I’ve recently entered the store’s hallowed halls during clearance sales to pick up dishes and throw pillows. The same can be true of any “adult stuff” stores.

But for the must-have furniture for my post-college apartment—things like a kitchen table or living room couch—I searched Ikea, garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, and Goodwill. The four require patience, but they’ve rewarded me with some of my most beloved furniture. However you do it, the key is to switch gears to where you’re actively looking for household necessities, wherever they may be.

6. No Meal Plan, No Problem

I used my college’s meal plan for the first three years, and it was great. The cafeteria boasted at least five different types of food, plus a dessert bar and waffle maker. When I moved off-campus my senior year, I learned quickly how much food costs, not to mention how much time it takes to make.

Those lessons prepped me for post-college life. I immediately started budgeting for weekly or bi-weekly trips to the store, because, hey – I’m not a kid anymore. I even took things a step further with some online cooking classes and nutrition apps to stay healthy and fit, which also helped me learn how to cook better. Don’t take food for granted, be prepared for life without the cafeteria! 

7. Don’t Be Boring, Develop a Hobby

Speaking of online cooking classes, I discovered something unexpected while watching them: I actually really enjoy cooking! It relaxes and recharges me, and the fare always delights friends I’ve invited over for brunch or dinner. Something about graduating college is the perfect opportunity for becoming a more well-rounded person – a person who is ready to make even more friends and dive into a career!

Protip: Watching other people cook refreshes my spirit, too—but I refused to watch my favorite chefs on Netflix or Hulu with anything less than a pristine stream, so consider upping your internet speed to join the ranks of non-dorm room internet speeds.

8. Ask for (and Accept) Help

Another thing I recognized is that I needed help. It was actually a freeing thought. I still remember asking my manager for help with a difficult customer and watching in awe as she remained kind yet firm. I also visited with my college’s counseling center. I felt so overwhelmed the last few months of college that it was sometimes hard to get out of bed. I didn’t know how to talk with my family or best friend about it, so I scheduled an appointment with a counselor. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and something I plan to continue doing. Everyone needs help sometimes, myself included.

Since I took those eight steps, I’m “adulting” fairly well. No, I don’t have everything figured out, but that’s part of being a grown-up. Nobody has life all figured out, and I for one am glad. Life would be boring if we all solved its challenges in the exact same way. But as you use these and similar tips as you move from college life to work life, you can feel more confident in yourself and in your transition.


Cassie Tolhurst is a recent grad, digital journalist, and tech enthusiast. When she isn’t stalking Twitter she is spending time with her loving family and dog. Her passions include the newest mobile gadgets and what’s streaming on Netflix.
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