How to Save Your First $1000 After College

You just landed a good job. What do you do now?

Stephanie Elle
The Startup
5 min readOct 28, 2019


You’re the first in your family to get a good education. That good education got you a job that’s not back-breaking labor. Not to disrespect people with hard jobs. Your parents put in hours of labor work to get you through school- so you wouldn’t have to. You feel the weight of everyone’s hopes for you on your shoulders like a ton of bricks but you can handle it.

You get your first paycheck and it feels like your first refund check from college. You think about blowing it on the latest game system just like you did back then. It’s only going to be the one time then you’ll be responsible with the next one.

I was in your shoes once and trust me if you blow that check this time you will blow it next time. And the time after that and the time after that. So let’s avoid going down that miserable, debt-laden path. Right now is the best time to start saving money. Soon, you will want to set up an emergency fund but right now, let’s save the first $1000. Emergency funds can come later. Here are my 6 tips to get you there:

1. Know Your Expenses

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

You shouldn’t have but so many expenses right now which is great. Start saving before you start throwing your money away on random stuff like cable (no one has cable anymore). Sit down with a pen and pad and get busy writing everything you spend your money on in a month. What bills do you pay? Do you have student loans? You’ll have to start paying those back in about 6 months. Do you have a car payment or pay utilities? Whatever it is, write it down with a safe estimate of how much it is each month.

Be 100 percent honest with your list. We know we spend on stuff we don’t need sometimes (alright, a lot of the time) and you’ve definitely earned it. Enjoy your money… but be smart with your money. This habit can help you develop a good money relationship down the line.

2. Can’t Miss What You Don’t Have

Photo by Munga Thigani on Unsplash

Pick a small amount of money to direct deposit into a bank account that’s not your regular account. So if you get paid $800 deposit $780 in your regular account and $20 into your separate account. A separate account could be your savings account or a second checking account. Bonus points if the money is going into a high interest-earning account like an online savings account.

It doesn’t matter how small this amount is as long as it’s something you can save every paycheck. You want to develop a consistent habit of saving.

3. Get a Change Jar

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Your parents collected change for a reason. Tossing the change from your pocket in a jar at the end of the day works amazingly well for saving. Every time you break a dollar save the change. Only the change that jingles though. If it falls put it back in your wallet. Before you go to bed put that musical medley of nickels, dimes and quarters in a change jar on your dresser.

To get creative with the idea have one jar for each coin. Whichever way you do it have fun with it so you continue to do it. You can even get one of those Christmas tins for your end of the day loot to make you feel more at home. Once the jars fill up deposit all that change in your bank account.

4. Wait it Out

Photo by Christoffer Engström on Unsplash

My pastor told me this one when I was a teenager and it has never failed me. I’m giving this to you without the sermon, thank me later. The best part is it requires you do absolutely nothing. Let me explain. If you see something you really WANT (not need) wait 3 days before you buy it. Shorten it down to 24 hours if you want but I don’t recommend any shorter than that. You want to have had some time to forget about buying the thing for this tip to work. If you still want to buy it after you’ve waited all that time then be my guest. Go on and buy it.

The point of waiting is to stop you from buying something on a whim so the longer you wait, the better.

5. Cash for Everything

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Read this sentence twice: Plastic methods of payment are designed to have you spend money you don’t physically have. Credit cards give you access to money but you have to pay it back with interest. Have you ever heard of a loan shark? Yea, that, except legal. Learn to use credit responsibly later. Learn to save now. Buy everything with cash. We tend to spend money we don’t have when we use plastic.

6. Don’t Rollover Your Cash

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

If you’ve followed the other tips then it’s likely you have some money left over to get you from now to your next payday. Use only that money. Don’t use credit, don’t borrow and don’t overspend. Keep that money in your pocket as much as you can. If you still have money when you get paid again, put that money in the bank. Start this payday and every payday, with a clean slate.

The best time to save money is now. These tips should get you well on your way to saving your first $1000 and more. You didn’t get this far to continuing living paycheck to paycheck.



Stephanie Elle
The Startup

I write about business and life. Squarespace Designer. Digital Marketing Strategist. Copywriter.