Saving money is hard but it’s even harder in the face of surmounting student loan debt. In fact, it’s estimated that almost four million Americans will have a bachelor’s degree by the end of the 2019-2020 school year. This means that a growing number of young professionals will begin their lives in debt. 

Perhaps, for the first time, recent college graduates will struggle to budget as they are hired by their first full-time jobs. Even though many young professionals are able to pay for the necessities with their new paycheck, establishing a savings account is another story. If you’re one of the many recent college graduates in America, here are some of the top ways to save money and maintain a budget. 

Get a Job Sooner Rather Than Later 

Getting work out of college can be hard, but waiting around for the perfect job will only get you into tighter financial straits. While you search for your dream career, don’t feel bad about taking a job that might not align with your degree. After all, an average job is better than no job at all. It’s rare for recent college grads to make waves in their field as soon as they graduate, anyway. 

Getting a basic job will enable you to start saving sooner than later. Then, in your down-time, attend networking events, invest in your hobbies, and try to connect with other people in your field. Most people get a great job by establishing connections with others. You can even reach out to young entrepreneurs like Charutha Bandara on professional networking sites such as Linkedin for tips, tricks, and inspiration as a young professional. While these established professionals might not be able to get you a job, they can offer valuable tools of the trade to help you meet your goals. 

Learn About Budgeting 

Establishing a budget is one of the hardest aspects of saving money, especially if you’re prone to spending a lot on entertainment. Whether that’s eating out with friends, attending special events, or splurging online, living outside your means will never enable you to save money. 

The first step of establishing a budget is creating a list of your necessities, including rent, bills, utilities, and student loan debt. Once these items are all calculated, you need to subtract them from your monthly income. Most saving sites will tell you to save about 20% of your paycheck at a time, but this might not be realistic if you have a low-paying job. Even saving a little bit each week could make a huge impact by the end of the year. 

You can also rely on budgeting apps to keep track of extraneous expenses. Don’t be afraid to follow entrepreneur blogs and financial gurus to glean inspiration. 

Get a Side Hustle 

As mentioned before, your first job is rarely going to pay a lot. At the end of the day, you might need to get a side hustle to pay the bills. Living paycheck to paycheck is hard, but a simple side job, like bartending or freelancing online, can make all the difference in terms of stress. 

Before you engage in a new side hustle, however, you want to ensure that the company you’re working for is legitimate. This is especially necessary if you use Craigslist or Facebook to pick up odd jobs in your area. Before you give a person or company your time, be sure to invest in a background check. This might be contacting a look-up site, reading online reviews, or talking to other professionals in chat rooms. Above all else, your safety is more important than a paycheck. Side hustles are great to earn a few more bucks a week, but it’s never worth putting yourself in danger. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Live at Home for a While 

There’s this idea that all young professionals should have an apartment as soon as they graduate, but this is a lofty goal. There’s no shame in moving back home if you really want to save some money. Lacking independence might be a struggle but between work and seeing old friends, it will be a lot more busy than you think. Give yourself a goal to strive toward, either in terms of time spent at home or how much money you’ve saved, and then focus on moving out again. 

Saving money as a recent graduate can seem impossible. Try out these tips when you want to see a change in your financial situation.