For a long time I felt that you needed to land a job with a big fat salary in order to be successful. It took me several years to come to this realization, but the truth is, you do not need a big fat salary. Although having one will really help! The main ingredient we all need in order to reach our financial goals is good old planning mixed it with patience and determination.  In this post here, I discussed 4 things I learned as a young adult with a degree (a.k.a student loan debt) under her belt. One of the things I discussed is saving money. I cannot stress that enough – saving your money is the best way to achieve your goals.

One of my short term goals is to buy a home, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I moved back in with my parents after graduating college. I have an amazing relationship with my parents and it was also a very strategic decision, in the sense that rents in the Boston area are ridiculously high and unless you give in to the idea of having a roommate (or two) it can quickly become unaffordable. I had also lived on/off campus during my college years so it did not feel like I was missing out on the whole living on your own deal. But I digress. My point is that moving back in with my parents allowed me to put extra money towards my loan payments (money that would have otherwise gone to rent payments).

While I realize that moving back in with your parents may not always be option, however, if it is an option I would advise you to do it, even if it’s just for a year or two.  That will give you a huge head start in your personal finance department. There are other things I have done to save money in ways that have been pretty seamless to me:

Automated my savings

I began automating savings a few years back. I did this by opening up a savings account with a completely separate bank than where I had my day to day checking account. Then I set up bi-weekly withdrawals (which lined up with my paycheck deposits) – I started putting away 20% of each paycheck into a savings account and watched that number grow month after month.

Consolidated and refinanced my student loans

I did my undergrad from 2006-2010, this was at the peak time when interest rates were at an all-time high for borrowers. Lucky me! After graduation I was hit with bills from every direction with loan repayment plans that read interest rates that varied from 10-12%. I stuck with those terms for a couple of years until finally a light bulb went off in my head and I decided to re-finance my student loans. I refinanced them once and got it down to about 7.5% and about a year later I refinanced them again and got the interest rate down to about 5.3%. However, this part would not have been possible without the next tip.

Increased my credit score

Be very mindful of your due dates. I use an old fashioned (but very pretty) planner where I sit down and write down my due dates once a month. I have done this without fail every single month for the past 6 years. Making all of your payments on time will drastically help improve your credit score. A very good credit score will help save you money (i.e. student loan refinancing).  And also when it is time to buy your home, a good to excellent credit score will be instrumental in securing a loan with the best interest rate you can get.

Payed off my car

Earlier this year I decided to pay off my car. I know that cars are depreciating assets and are never a good investment but I need my car to get to and from work and around town to run errands. While I live in the City of Boston I don’t live in the heart of the city where almost everything is within walkable distance. Paying off my car gave me extra cash to work with in my budget that I re-allocated to my student loan payments. So while this approach did not technically save me money it is allowing me to pay down my student loan debt at a faster rate (which will save me thousands when it is a ll said and done).

The changes I have made regarding my money and my money habits have come from hours and hours I’ve spent reading books, articles and listening to podcasts on personal finance. The two that I have become very fond of are Farnoosh Torabi and Dave Ramsey, I think that they have given pretty solid advice that has worked well for my these last couple of years. 

Are you on a journey to saving money and reach your financial goals? If so, share what has worked for you and what has not below!


I graduated college in 2010 and landed my first full time job about two months after graduation. Even at an entry level salary I thought I had “made it” but that ideology only lasted about a year until I realized that I needed to do more in the personal finance department. With that said, I still found a way to dig my student debt hole a little deeper when the little nerd that lives inside me decided she wanted to go back to school to earn a Master’s degree. So fast forward to about three and a half years after getting my Bachelor’s degree I also had a Master’s degree and a job where I had been promoted twice and my salary had almost doubled.  Yet, I still felt that my personal finance world was in need of some help.

Here was my situation: I had student loan debt that equaled my annual salary, I had a car loan that was about a third of my annual salary and I did not (and still don’t) have any credit card debt. I was fortunate enough to have parents that allowed me to move back home after college in order to focus on paying down my student loan debt. Also, here is an interesting fact, my monthly student loan payments equaled my parent’s monthly mortgage payments. YES, you read that correctly! Anyhow, I wish I knew some of the things I know now when I was a recent graduate.

Save, save, save

I wish I had gotten into the habit to save a percentage of each and every paycheck into a separate savings account. I now save 20% of each paycheck and I cannot tell you the difference that has made in terms of building a healthy emergency fund. Also, I recommend keeping this savings account in a bank separate from the one you use on a day to day basis.

Retirement savings

I did not contribute to my 401k for the first nine months of my first full time job and whenever I think back to that I kick myself! I know you have heard this advice over and over but it contributing to your 401k (or other retirement plan) is extremely important and the sooner you begin your contributions the better. And if your company has a matching program please, please take advantage of it.

Shop smarter

As a rookie full time employee with an entry level salary that seemed like a whole lot of money I definitely overspent on shopping for clothes, shoes, handbags and so on. I recently went through a closet detox where I felt like I was literally throwing cash money into trash bags! Side note: the clothes were donated. Now I think of quality over quantity and not only that but I also only buy clothing if there is either a promotion going on or if it is on sale. I worked at Banana Republic for 5 years so I know it is not worth it to pay full price for clothing.

Use credit cards wisely

I have one credit card, that’s it and I use it on a regular basis but I do not, I repeat, do not carry a balance on it. At one point a few years ago I had a balance of $600 and you all may laugh at me but I could hardly sleep at night knowing that I had an outstanding balance – I paid those 600 bucks as soon as I could and vowed to myself to not carry any credit card debt anymore. I believe the point of a credit card is to help you build your credit and not to use it to buy items with money you do not have. While it is tempting buy new and shiny items, it is not worth it.

What have you learned about money after college? What are some things you know now that you wish you knew then?