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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 September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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