Personal Finance Tips to Follow When You Get Your First Job

Personal Finance Tips

Congratulations! You have landed your first job. It is an exciting time full of new experiences and challenges. Even as you are going about your responsibilities in the new job, you are probably looking forward to your first paycheck and have already begun a list of things you want to buy.

This is the right time to exercise some caution and have a concrete financial plan in place which is vital in a rising cost and tax environment because of new policy. Developing sound financial habits from your first job will stand you in good stead as you grow your career. Here are a few tips on how to manage your money right from the first paycheck.

Write down your financial goals

It’s critical to write them down as that will bring you greater clarity. Make a note of both short and long term goals. It is all right if your goals change at some point or when you have met one of your short term goals. You are doing this to help you plan your budget and to know how much to save and how much to spend.

Make a budget

You know what your income is and you know your priorities. Some expenses are unavoidable. Set aside a portion of your income to meet those expenses. With the leftover money, you can exercise a greater level of control and where it goes. Remember, you have a goal. Put aside another portion of your income towards that goal.

Keep track of your accounts

You may want to do it once a month or bi-weekly. It will keep you on track with your spending without running short at the end of the month. Keeping your checking accounts balanced will also ensure that there have been no unauthorized debiting of funds. 

Start saving

It is never too early to start saving. Set up a retirement fund from your first job. If you are only able to set aside a small portion of your income towards a 401K offered by your employer or any other available retirement funds, it is still alright. Ideally, you should plan to invest 15% of your income to this fund but you may want to consider investing more with higher energy prices and other costs that are rising in this new environment. 

Shop wisely

If you must shop, shop wisely. Make a list of things you need and stick to the list instead of getting tempted into impulsive buying. It will help if you make a separate list of things you want to buy and mull over the items for a day or two. You may realize that you can do without some of them, or at least prioritize your shopping list between the things you need and the things you want. 

Find the best deals

Scouring the various deals online would give you an opportunity to compare prices and choose the best deal. This is a smart habit to cultivate. There are plenty of deals on every item in the market from clothes to household articles. You will save quite a bit of money by doing your research before shopping. 

Irregular expenses

If you have a desire to travel, you may choose to set up a holiday fund and start adding to it with each paycheck. You will enjoy the trip more when you know that you are not dipping into your funds set aside for necessities and other savings.  

Incidental expenses

It is always best to be prepared for the odd incidental expenses that may come up. It could be as small as your phone bills or tips to porters. Or, it could be the odd repair work that needs attention. Keeping such expenses in mind will ensure that you do not sway from your original budget.

Watch your credit report

You do not want to be caught unawares when you are building your credit history. It is essential that you keep an eye on the credit report regularly as it will help ensure that you are not slipping to a lower rating because of some oversight in settling your bills. 

Monitor your progress

Every couple of months, you could study your accounts and compare the expenses incurred. It will give you a better idea as to your spending and saving. You can also plan for an improved lifestyle as you grow in your career and your income increases. 

The bottom line

Armed with these tips, you can feel secure and in control of your finances. No one can have a better idea of your needs and wants. Stay focused on growing your wealth as your income grows while you progress in your career. 

5 Golden Steps to Upgrade Your Financial Position

Financial Position

Personal financial management is one of the most important, yet ignored topics that need more attention. It is primarily because it is an intimidating topic that most people refrain from going in-depth. What you do with your money today decides your tomorrow. 

Financial or retirement goals cannot be achieved unless there is a strategy backing it. While you might be doing a few things right, there might be scope for improvement. Unless you analyze your present financial status, it would be difficult to develop a plan that paves the way for a better financial future. It is what brings us to the first of five golden steps you can take to upgrade your financial position.

Technically Analyze Your Financial Status

In other words, take out time from your schedule and do the math. Make a list of your assets and liabilities to know your net worth. If you don’t know how to decipher net worth, simply subtract the liabilities from assets (valuation). The figure you arrive at after subtraction is your net worth. It helps you identify the problem areas in your financial activities as well as lifestyle. 

Doing a yearly budget would help you note your growth year after year and keep things in perspective as far as finances go. One of the crucial aspects of analyzing financial status is budgeting. It plays an instrumental role in achieving your short-term and long-term financial goals. 

Budgeting depends on financial projections of income and expenses. If the income exceeds expenses, you’ve surplus money that you can save or invest. If expenses are on the higher side, it requires you to revisit your lifestyle and expenses and see where further cost-cutting can be done. 

Keep Lifestyle Inflation in Check

We spend more when we earn more. It seems like a natural progression, but it isn’t. It is a phenomenon that is widely termed in financial circles as “lifestyle inflation.” As you evolve professionally and personally, there can be certain changes like hiring more help at home or a chauffeur or a yearly overseas vacation. 

However, do not jump into the bandwagon to match the lifestyle of others around you and spend on things you can’t really afford. Stick to your financial strategy, and don’t let peer pressure ruin your financial future. 

Start Saving Early

Spending mindfully means understanding the differences between needs and desires. You might need a new car to commute to and from office, but spending mindfully means buying a car that fits your budget vs. buying a car that disturbs your entire year’s finances which is easier to do in this low tax environment and will be even easier to do when we have a vaccine for the Wuhan virus. Don’t spend on what you want but focus on what you need when pulling out your wallet or signing on that dotted line. 

Ask yourself, can I live without spending on this? If the answer is yes, then it falls in the category of ‘wants,’ and you might need to reconsider your decision to spend on it. When you don’t spend mindfully, you spend more than required on wants and may fall short for what you need. It pushes you into the vicious circle of debt.

Start Saving Early

It can’t be pressed enough how important it is to start saving early. While it is never too late to start saving, sooner you start, better are your chances of achieving your long-term financial or retirement goals comfortably. People who start saving much later into their life may find it difficult to plan their retirement as no matter how much they save. 

It doesn’t add up to a figure that offers peace of mind within the limited time they have before retirement. It then requires uncomfortable lifestyle compromises to secure your future that ruins your present as well. Start saving early to create a financial buffer that cushions your retirement plans and gives wings to your long-term financial goals. 

Create an Emergency Fun

Life is uncertain, and an emergency can strike anytime. Whether it is a medical emergency or if your car needs immediate repairs, the situation requires you to spend money that wasn’t part of the plan or your budget. An emergency fund is created to meet such unforeseen events without letting it disturb your financial equilibrium. 

It would be ideal that you keep at least six months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund, but you should try to add more whenever possible. Restraining yourself from touching this fund for lifestyle expenses or wants can be an ongoing struggle, but you need to train yourself to make the right decisions with your money. 

Final Word

Discipline and commitment are two pillars that would help you achieve your financial goals and pave the way for a financially fulfilling life. Building habits that ensure you stay away from unwanted expenses and constantly look for ways to add to your savings and investments is what will bring you closer to living your dream life. A penny saved is a penny earned is a mantra to live by when it comes to upgrading your financial position.