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Going from a full-time student to a full-time adult can be quite shocking. The real world is expensive. Most people right out of college don’t have much experience managing their own money and it shows in their spending patterns. But there are some common offenders.

We’ve compiled a list of three things that new grads waste their money on and tips for how to stop, without sacrificing too much in the way of quality of life.

1. Housing

It can be tempting to want complete independence when you get that first full-time job. But living by yourself is very expensive, regardless of whether you are buying or renting. In addition to mortgage payments or rent, you have to pay for utilities, Internet, TV and cleaning supplies.

Splitting those costs with one (or more!) people can free up money for starting your retirement savings, emergency fund or just fun money. Look for roommates so you’re not draining your income. Experts say it’s a good idea to keep housing costs to less than 30% of your take-home pay.

2. Alcohol

During college, it can be relatively easy to find a party with free beer. But with a full-time job, the main drinking activity can quickly become after-work cocktails at expensive bars and restaurants.

Happy hours and meals out can be great socializing and networking time. But you need to prioritize events so you’re not spending tons of money on drinks every night of the week (not to mention the negative health effects).

For socializing, try having friends over to your place or rotating homes so you can avoid paying the higher prices at bars. When dining out, look into BYOB restaurants to cut down on the cost of your drinks.

Another option is to only bring enough cash for one drink. Leave the credit cards at home to stop yourself from feeling tempted.

3. Credit Cards

One of the biggest traps when you first start out is to live beyond your means. Your first job may not pay very well, but it is dangerous to assume you can wait to get your finances in order until you get a raise or a better job.

Many young adults depend on their credit cards to make up the difference between the life they want and the one they can afford. But you can avoid this by creating a budget, tracking your spending and remembering that your decisions now can affect your financial future. Even if you do get that raise, it won’t go very far if you are paying off massive amounts of credit card debt.

If you’ve already gotten yourself into some debt trouble, it’s important to monitor your credit and make sure the steps you’re taking to pay off the debt is also helping your credit scores. You can monitor your credit scores for free using the Credit Report Card, which will also show you how your debt load compares to the average American.

More on Managing Debt:

Image: Randy Faris /Fuse

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