Getting your first pay cheque form your full-time job after college is exciting, and you may use it to celebrate your achievement. However, these steady pay cheques are a great way to get yourself set up for financial success. There are a few goals to hit during this time in your life.
Evaluate Monthly Expenses
Consider how much you are spending each month and how much you can put into your savings. Evaluate where your money is going, whether that’s for food, rent, transportation, or student loans. Often, student loans are the biggest portion of recent graduates’ budgets, so make sure you are staying on top of them. Some might require you to start making payments right away while others may have a grace period, so make sure you figure out what applies to yours. Staying on top of student loans can be challenging, especially if you have multiple ones with different terms. Plus, having so many student loans can actually cost you more in terms of interest. You may want to look into refinancing these into a new loan to cut back on monthly expenses. This can make budgeting a lot simpler while helping you save more going forward.
Think About Your Cash Flow
Take some time to learn how your cash is flowing in and out. If your salary is $40,000 a year, you probably do not receive $3,300 in your account each month. You may have insurance premiums, taxes, and retirement taken out before it hits your bank. But even when the funds do hit your account, you are spending it on living expenses. The good news is that you can use apps connected to your bank accounts so you can track your activity. This helps you track the money going out so you stay on top of your financial goals. As long as the money coming in is at least the same as the amount going out, you can prevent yourself from going into debt.
It is easy to forget about retirement, as it might seem far away to you and investing in your future on a student budget is not always realistic. However, you are often in the best position to put money aside during this next phase of life. That’s partly because your expenses now are lower than they will be in the future, and you have time on your side. You can benefit from compound interest, so set up auto contributions to the account.
Determine Your Next Money Goals
You may find your pay cheque is just enough to help you get by, and maybe put a little in the bank, but think about where you want to be in five or even 10 years. While you might not know what you will be doing or where you will be living, you may want to think about some of the more expensive parts of life. If you want to get married, buy a house, or have kids, you will need to work toward these things, as each can be costly. Setting aside money toward your goals will help you stay on track, as you will have a more concrete reason to not blow every pay cheque.