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The Ultimate Guide to Manage Your First Pay check Right

The Ultimate Guide to Manage Your First Pay check Right

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.

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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:

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  • Travel

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.

  • Clothes

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.

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  • Socializing

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.

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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

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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