On the other side, list the money going out. Focus first on fixed costs, he said — not just student loans but also rent, car payments, insurance and the like. Be sure to include an amount, even if it’s small, for emergency savings. Then list variable expenses, like weekend getaways, summer vacations, perhaps saving for a special gift for a girlfriend or a boyfriend.
If there’s a big gap between income and expenses, Mr. Eisenberg said, adjustments are in order.
If money is tight, new graduates can think about what they might do without, Ms. Schlesinger said. Do they really need a car and its associated costs? If they live in a city like New York, she said, probably not. In some cities, she noted, options have expanded beyond public transportation and ride-hailing apps to include scooter- or bike-sharing services.
Living at home, at least temporarily, is another option, especially if you get along with your parents and they aren’t charging you rent. Mr. Eisenberg said one of his own young relatives had chosen to live at home after graduation and to use the money that would have gone to rent to pay down student debt.
“Free is good,” Ms. Schlesinger said.
Leah Glouberman, an aspiring actor who graduated last year from the University of Southern California, said she was “very fortunate” to have no student loans and was grateful to be living rent free with her mother in Los Angeles, where the cost of living is high.
“I didn’t even second-guess it,” she said of the arrangement. “I’m saving a lot of money.”
Ms. Glouberman, 23, said living with her mother allowed her to work part-time jobs, keeping her schedule flexible in case she is called on short notice for possible acting jobs. She is building a savings account, which will help her get settled when she is ready to move into an apartment, or perhaps can serve as a down payment for a small house.
Ms. Schlesinger said that while living at home could be beneficial, parents and their new graduates should communicate about expectations. Even if you’re paying rent, she said, “ask, ‘How can I contribute to the household?’”
Also, it’s wise to discuss how long the situation is likely to last. If the child is thinking two years and the parents are thinking six months, conflict is bound to brew. “Define what’s reasonable,” Ms. Schlesinger said.