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Feeling Financial Anxiety? Here’s What The Experts Want You To Know

You’ve finally made it: all those days and nights of studying are a thing of the past, and it’s time for your real life to start. On the surface, this might seem exciting — a core memory of sorts. But I’m sure I don’t have to tell you it’s more complicated than that.

With graduation comes a tidal wave of change — and that includes financial independence. For those who have spent their lives relying on their parents, it’s nerve-wracking to suddenly have to focus on your finances, without anything to fall back on. But even if you’ve already made your way through school with loans to help you out, finally having to pay back that money can also add unnecessary stress. 

So, if you’re anxious about your finances after graduating with nowhere to turn, don’t fret — I’ve gotcha. I spoke to Bill Ryze, a Chartered Financial Consultant, and Clint Proctor, a Forbes Advisor and Editor-In-Chief at Investor Junkie, to get more information about how to conquer the all-too-common feeling of post-grad finance anxiety. 

Plan out your spending, and stick to a budget.

You knew this was coming. If you don’t already have one, it’s time to create a budget — which sounds much more annoying and complicated than it actually is. Plan out your expected spending each month — variable purchases like groceries and shopping trips, and fixed expenses like rent — and compare these numbers with your income. 

“Having a spending plan will keep you in check and ensure you meet your financial obligations, needs, and wants,” Ryze says. “Also, I recommend opening and putting money aside in an emergency fund: Fear of the unknown will worsen your anxiety.” As much as budgeting may seem like a chore, it’ll help you remain organized. Plus, your budget can provide you with a sense of relief whenever you’re worried about not having enough money — because you’ve already planned everything out.


The best budgeting tool is a tool that 👏🏻 you actually use 👏🏻😁 #personalfinance #budget

♬ original sound – Michela – Break Your Budget

But don’t stop at budgeting — it’s also a good idea to keep track of other aspects of your finances. In addition to those initial steps, “Define your short-term and long-term objectives, such as building an emergency fund, paying off student loans, or saving for retirement,” Proctor recommends. If you have any loans, make a plan toward repaying those — and it never hurts to check your credit score every now and then, either. 

Most importantly, once you’ve set these financial goals, stick to them. That might mean no extravagant, spur-of-the-moment purchases to your favorite online clothing store, only to discover you didn’t actually need the item you so furiously bought a few days prior (we’re all guilty of this one).

“It’s tempting to indulge in instant gratification and succumb to the allure of unnecessary purchases or lifestyle inflation,” Proctor says. “However, this can lead to debt and financial stress in the long run.” If you love shopping, consider replacing this hobby with other, less expensive (and more healthy) options, like spending time with friends, going on walks, or listening to music — all of which can be much more gratifying than a one-time purchase.

Reduce comparison to others.

Budgeting, although helpful, isn’t a miracle cure. There are other, more emotion-based, introspective ways to heal your anxiety. These strategies don’t have much to do with money at all — because the best way to overcome anxiety of any kind is to reflect and heal from within. And that means not comparing your situation to anyone else’s.

Every person’s financial journey is different. Looking at others as a benchmark for where you should be will only make things worse. The truth is, everyone appears more put-together than they actually are, so this will only exacerbate your anxiety. 

“Usually, when comparing yourself to others, you don’t always see the full picture, the person’s effort, or get an insight into their financial life,” Ryze explains. “Sometimes, college graduates compare themselves to someone who has been in the workforce for a long time, someone who’s working three jobs, someone who’s living off their parents’ money, someone who is faking living a financially accomplished life, or someone struggling with debt to maintain their class.” 


my advice to post grad is do not compare your life to others, invest in yourself, & put yourself out there. Post grad is weird & hard but youll be ok! #postgrad #advice #college

♬ original sound – Zarah

I know reducing comparison is easier said than done, but the more you work at this, the easier it’ll be. And although common in the post-grad stage, comparison never ends — so it’s best to develop healthy thought patterns early on. This may mean constantly reminding yourself that each person’s experience differs, or even practicing gratitude for the things you do have. 

It may also be useful to surround yourself with informative, honest conversations about financial anxiety, instead of comparing the details of your job or income to idealized situations. I recommend listening to podcasts or reading informative articles, to start — these will help you gain acceptance and learn that you’re not alone; plus, you’ll be gaining financial literacy without realizing it.

Practice positive reinforcement.

Post-grad life is hard, to say the least. You’re beginning a completely new chapter of your life, exiting the role of a student for the first time. To top it all off, there are unfortunately hundreds of glorified narratives and stereotypes flying around — thanks to the nature of society and social media — discoloring your vision of reality.

So, amongst all the pressure, it’s important to give yourself grace. “Often, our anxieties about money are fueled by negative thoughts or beliefs,” Proctor explains. “Take a closer look at your mindset around money, and try to replace negative thoughts with positive and empowering ones.” This means acknowledging yourself for making it this far in your post-grad journey, and beginning to develop your own freedom. 

Although prospering financially may seem like a goal to strive toward (how many people have you heard exclaim, “I want to be rich!”?), it’s actually a continuous path. “Remind yourself that financial success is a journey, and you have the capability to overcome any challenges that come your way,” Proctor advises.

As much as it may not feel like it, you’re accomplishing something big, and taking a major step toward becoming a fully fledged adult. Every step is worth acknowledging, and dwelling on setbacks never helps. Instead, enjoy this new and exciting period of your life — money may be important in our society, but it’s just one of many ingredients to a fulfilling, happy life. 

Abby is a National Writer for Her Campus and the Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus at Waterloo. As part of the Wellness team, she covers topics related to mental health and relationships, but also frequently writes about digital trends, career advice, current events, and more. In her articles, she loves solving online debates, connecting with experts, and reflecting on her own experiences. She is also passionate about spreading the word about important cultural issues such as climate change and women’s rights; these are topics she frequently discusses in her articles. Abby began producing digital content at BuzzFeed, where she now has over 300 posts and 60 million overall views. Since then, she has also written for various online publications such as Thought Catalog, Collective World, and Unpacked. In addition to writing, Abby is also a UX and content designer; she most frequently spends her days building innovative, creative digital experiences. She has other professional experiences ranging from marketing to graphic design. When she’s not writing, Abby can be found reading the newest Taylor Jenkins Reid book, watching The Office, or eating pizza. She’s also been a dancer since she was four years old, and has most recently become obsessed with taking spin classes.