The excitement of your first real job comes with the anticipation of your first real paycheck, in addition to musings about what to do with your hard earned money. However, when it comes down to the payday, nothing can rain on your parade more than receiving a much smaller figure than you were promised. Deductions for health insurance premiums, taxes, and certain other employee related costs can leave a rather inadequate amount to pay for your rent, food, bills, and other necessities. However, if you spare some time for saving and budgeting, you might even be able to pay off your loans and retirement funds down the road, in addition to making ends meet. While managing your own finances can be a rather daunting task, this feat is absolutely necessary for people with limited means.
Developing a realistic budget based on your expenses and initial salary can foremost ensure that you don’t end up broke and back to your parent’s nest by the end of the month. It can be hard to know what to do with your money when you have never had to deal with an actual budget, so here are a few tips on helping millennials make budget for their first job:
First things first—pay off debt
Auto loan debts, student load debt, credit card debt; sounds familiar? These debts plague the lives of every young worker. Why not leverage your new source of income to roll the ball with repaying your debts, just like your lenders expect you to. This is all the more important because the sky high interest rates can cripple your financial standing in the long run, and make it a challenge to move forward with your career. As a new earner, paying off debts should be high on your list. This doesn’t entail paying off the entire balance, until you are far behind on your payments, but you should factor into your paycheck the fact that you are right on schedule with your payments.
If you are one of those people who get into the habit of paying only the minimum payment for your credit card debt each month, it’s high time to change your ways as soon as possible. Minimum payments can protract your payments out to years, costing thousands of dollars in interest. Make it your utmost priority to pay off your high interest credit card debt first, before it accumulates to insurmountable monstrosity.
If you have any pending student loans, you generally get 3-6 months after graduation before you are expected to pay. Instead of whiling away your grace period to rest on your laurels, you should plan how to go about your payments before they commence. Factor in the minimum payment in your budget and determine if perhaps you can afford to spare more than the minimum. If so great! You can simply restructure your budget around it.
Set a Budget
If prior to this job you were in in school, chances are your finances were pretty basic and making ends meet was no rocket science. You likely had some preliminary utilities and bills to pay, and your education was probably funded by student loans or any third party source. However, now that you have crossed over to the workforce threshold and all that comes with it, your cash flow needs will undergo a drastic transformation, causing you to rethink how to make the most of your money.
After you determine what portion of your paychecks will be left over after payroll and income taxes, it is time to sit back and jot down your monthly expenses; i.e. your needs and probable wants. How much is your current rent and will you be moving to a nicer place now that you have the extra cash? How much time do you get before you absolutely have to start paying back your student loans, and how much can you afford to pay? Such big expenditures determine where a significant chunk of your money has to go every month.
When working up your budget, it is prudent to start with your fixed monthly bills, including your credit card payments, internet, phone, utilities, car insurance, renters insurance, student loan, car payment, and your rent. To that, add up your variable work related monthly expenses, including:
Only a fortunate few get to live within a walking proximity of their workplace; the rest have to travel and traveling requires cash. So unless you cycle to work, you need to add the cost of traveling to your expenditures. If you use public transport, it’s a good decision to purchase a season ticket that lasts an entire year.
If your job entails special clothing or a uniform, this is generally supplied by the employer. However, considering your personal wardrobe and everyday work clothing, such as smart clothing and suits, you need to buy them yourself. While work clothes can touch the higher end of the price spectrum, you can shop around super markets and the high streets to find reasonable work wear ranges, or even check online stores for great bargains.
- Food and drink
You’ll need to have lunch at the office everyday so you can decide between taking your own in and buying it there. Eating out regularly can cast a shadow over you finances, but some companies incorporate canteens that offer cheaper meals to employees.
- Mobile phone
Being away from your family and friends while at work requires you to use your phone every day. Check to see if you are not going overboard with your allowances and also consider switching your phone tariff.
This expenditure is the toughest to figure out on your first job since you are not familiar with the social scene of your new workplace. Whether you would need to join a dinner party to be “one of the girls”, or decamp to the wine bar with the entire team for the happy hour every Thursday, how you choose to socialize at work dictates your budgeting decisions.
Next, you need to deduct your monthly expenditures and cash needs from your take-home pay to calculate your discretionary income before deciding what portion of this pay you want to save each month. If the remnant of your salary doesn’t promise much prospects for saving, review your variable expenses, such as entertainment, shopping, and other miscellaneous, to see where you can cut back.
Once you get a hold of monthly savings goal, make sure to automate the transfer of funds into your saving account so that you avoid tapping into your savings every now and then for impulse buys.
Plan for Emergencies
Planning for a saving fund from day one lends you the resources you need to make major purchases down the road, in addition to helping you weather financial storms. A broken cell phone, a car accident, or a layoff can greatly disrupt your income and wreak havoc on your budget. Putting away some petty cash in the sunny days can help you avert using credit cards and get sucked deeper into the swamp on a rainy day.
To garner a vestige of financial stability, you should ideally try to save the equivalent of up to 3-6 month’s worth of your salary. Once you have met this goal successfully, forget that the money exists. Keep your money isolated by moving it to an account not linked to checking. Going to such rigid measures ensures that you don’t transfer funds with the push of a button for whimsical purchases.
Limit Your Debt
While regularly using a credit card can help you build credit, it is not prudent to make impulse purchases that you can’t pay for right away. If you are already in the throes of a high-interest credit card debt, devote a significant chunk of your cash that you have set aside for savings towards your outstanding balances. While paying off high interest debts should be your utmost priority, do not overlook the necessity of having an emergency fund in place.
The grace period that you are entitled to before you have to start paying back your student loans, is a great time to save as much as you can or even cut some credit card debt. Budgeting your salary from the beginning can avert your paycheck from draining as soon as the bills start pouring in.
Save for Retirement
Sign up as soon as possible if your company offers a 401(k) retirement savings plan. If not, a traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or a ROTH might suit you better. While these contributions come out of your pocket, if you get used to your full pay and delay enrollment, it might be harder for you to allocate money into your retirement funds later. It’s better to start saving early as it helps your investments to grow and bolsters the money that you will make over the years. Even if you find it hard to contribute a lot at the start, consider a minimum to get your employer’s best matching contribution, or perhaps 1 percent contribution, and then build up from there. I wrote this article with help of my childhood friend and co-founder of couponbend.com Vicki James. She is my best friend and we discussed many points before i complete this awesome article.Enjoy reading!
Featured photo credit: Earn Real Money via lifehack.org