Graduating from college with your degree can bittersweet to some. On the one hand, you are excited to have accomplished, however, the thought of the debt that you are on the hook for weighs heavy on that moment. Depending on the type of loan you took out, you are probably eligible for a grace period. A grace period is a specific time frame in which you are not required to start paying back your loan. Although it is nice to stop and catch your breath, don’t waste your grace period with inaction. Here are some of the top things you should be doing during this period of time.

Figure Out Your Repayment Plan

Depending on your federal loan, you may have received a six to a nine-month grace period. During this time, you should be looking for work so that you can start improving your financial situation to take on the loan payments. According to “4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Student Loan Grace Period,” you will be assigned the standard repayment plan, which allows you to repay your loan over the course of at least ten years and will result in you paying the least amount of money towards interest.

However, if you find it difficult finding work after you graduate, then you may need to opt into a different repayment plan. The federal government offers a variety of options for those who cannot afford the standard repayment plan. Perhaps you are working but just aren’t making enough to shoulder the monthly payment. Your best option at this point would probably be an income-based repayment plan. Although you will end up paying more in interest over time, the monthly payment will be easier to manage.

Make A Budget and Paying Bills on Time

When you do find some work, it is important for you to make a budget for yourself. The basic way to do so is to determine how much money you are bringing in and how much is going out. Highlight the key areas you see money going out, and see if there any areas that you can trim down your spending so you can afford to pay down your debt faster. Furthermore, it will help you defend against overspending, which is really easy to do once you see your paycheck hit your bank account.

Included in your budget should be a plan to build up a savings account. Life comes at you fast, and you never know when you will get hit by an unexpected expense. This could mean replacing a cracked windshield or replacing a busted mobile phone. Whatever it may be, building a cushion that you can fall back on is always one of the best ways to deter disaster. In doing so, you won’t have to stress about making your student loan payment or affording your other bills when you have to pay for the unexpected.

By budgeting and making sure that you are putting a chunk of change away, you can set yourself up for building a strong credit score. Many people are putting off major life purchases due to their student debt. Use this as an opportunity to stay on top of your bills and debts so that you don’t end up hurting future self in the purchase of a new car or your first home.