As a graduate student or postdoctoral associate, you should plan your financial management.
Use tools such as GradSense.org to help you explore the financial aspects of earning a graduate degree. Improve your overall financial literacy by pursing personal finance information from financial literacy and credit counseling organizations. The four foundations of financial planning below offer a starting point and connect you to relevant CSU resources.
Financial planning is part of the Personal Development Competence in the Competencies Road Map. To start on your Personal Development, download this Competencies Road Map reminder with a Financial Planning checklist.
Four Foundations of Financial Planning
You may not be able to address all four foundations at once. The foundations are in a recommended order for addressing financial management, but there is flexibility. Start wherever you can:
This keeps you at your current financial situation if something unexpected happens.
- Greatly reduce uncertainty with graduate assistant benefits such as parental leave, family medical leave, health insurance, and other resources like life insurance.
- Read and understand your benefits provided by your employer.
Implement a savings habit.
- You may already be enrolled in the Student Employee Retirement Plan (SERP).
- Putting 20% into savings is ideal. Any regular amount you can contribute is a good start, even 2%.
- Structure your bank accounts and monthly deposits to fit your goals.
- For example, you may have accounts for current and future life plans putting 80% to checking and the rest into savings.
3. Build Liquidity
Liquidity helps you stay out of debt by reducing how much you borrow.
- Have three months of income available that you can access quickly and freely. This is in addition to your regular savings process from the SAVE step.
- Liquidity especially benefits you when an unexpected large cost arises.
- Having money that is easily accessible is good for emergencies and also for really positive events such as buying a home.
4. Reduce Debt
Build savings to insure your future self.
- Pay the minimum amount owed until your savings and liquidity are on track. Then start paying debt.
- This is because you need to build liquidity first so you can avoid incurring more debt.
- Consolidating loans can help you get organized with a lower interest rate.
- Pay off your credit card every month.
- Pay off your top three largest debts first.
- Learn more at the Finances 101 page
- Find more here on Financial Resources for graduate students
- Review the Graduate Professional Development Series through the Graduate School. There is usually a presentation on personal financial management. The information on this page was developed from a finance session run by Brad Sparks, M.S., of Sparks Financial Education.
- Other page references include: