Landing your first job is exciting, but it’s also the perfect time to start developing a budgeting mindset to determine what you can afford, as well as to plan for more substantial expenses and future financial goals. Here are some budgeting tips and advice for young adults entering the workforce.
Developing a Basic Budget
The first tip to budgeting effectively is figuring out how much you have to spend. If you’re in an entry-level job or internship, there won’t be much left over after expenses unless you plan properly. Start by calculating the minimum costs of all your essentials.
- Food & Water– You can’t live without food or water, so this usually gets the highest priority on any list. Determine what a reasonable dollar amount should look like for these two essentials. Don’t forget to include take-out, coffee orders, and other small expenses in your budget.
- Utilities – Observe how your utility bills change from month to month. You might have to learn to cut corners on cooling or heating if your bills get too large.
- Rent – If you’re looking for a place, start by reviewing the costs of the size of apartment you need. If you’ve already settled into your living arrangement, remember to check for any additional fees from your landlord.
- Gas and Transport – You have to find a way to get to and from work, so add in how much transportation costs you’ll have each month.
- Phone and Internet – Generally, you need to be contactable, but you may not need connectivity as much as you think. A simple pre-paid plan may work. And luckily nowadays free Wi-Fi is everywhere.
- Health Insurance– Your employer might offer health insurance as part of your compensation package. However, if your company does not cover medical costs, you’ll need to plan for potential emergencies that might arise.
- Other Regular Payments – You might be paying off credit card debt, or you might have subscriptions that you want to keep active. Add in any regular payments you may have that you deem absolutely necessary. Also, include a category for savings in your budget. Set aside a certain percentage each month.
- Miscellaneous and Unexpected Costs – Account for entertainment, clothing, and other costs. You’ll also need to pay for other irregular costs, such as car maintenance, appliance repairs, or other costs as well.
Be Realistic About Your Spending Capabilities
Now that you’ve made a list of all the necessary costs, you know exactly how much your new salary can stretch to allow discretionary expenses. If you plan correctly, you won’t have to guess if you can afford something or not.
Avoiding Credit Spending Traps
Many new to the workforce fall into credit traps. This happens for two reasons: not establishing a budget and not using credit wisely.
Use your credit card for what it’s best for — providing a line of credit, building rewards points, and analyzing your budget. Always pay off each monthly bill in full to avoid finance charges and getting into severe consumer debt
Set Aside Some Income for Savings and Investment
Once you’re on top of your finances, you need to look at putting aside some savings and building an investment portfolio. You can start investing for less than $1,000, and starting early gives your investment the time it needs to grow.
Take on Extra Work
Another great tip for new workers to help with budgeting is to take on some extra freelance or part-time work. A second job not only provides extra cash but new skills that could benefit you further down the line. And, you may even be able to turn your side hustle into a business one day!
Use a Budgeting App
A great way to stay on top of your budget is to get a personal finance budgeting app. A budgeting app can make it simple. Link the account you use for all your purchases to your budgeting app. Consider using this household budgeting worksheet, too.
Summary of Budgeting Tips
The most important part of budgeting is that you sit down, work out a rough draft of your expenses, and establish how much money you have coming in and going out each month. This way, you can set up a savings plan and avoid getting into financial trouble. When you know how to plan, the rest becomes easy!
Olivia Parker is the content manager for Atlanta Peach Movers. When she’s not writing, you can find her running through Atlanta, GA with her rescue pup, Bo.