You now finished college. After decades of studying, you are currently in another chapter of your life.
This chapter is fascinating! It opens you to a whole new world of possibilities.
But it can also be very challenging, especially with handling finances. When you get a job or start your own business, one can easily mishandle their hard-earned money.
As students, we were not taught how to handle our finances properly in school.
Here, I will share 10 ways to manage your funds that I wish I knew when I graduated.
Start a budget
When you start earning your own money, it is easy and very tempting to splurge on things.
I know I did. I bought the latest phone and bought new clothes I couldn’t afford before. I frequently go to bars and eat at restaurants.
Spending and rewarding yourself for a “job well done” or “you deserve this” is not a bad thing. But spending more than you’re earning, that’s where it gets awful. So bad that I have to borrow money from my sister just to pay my credit card bills. I could’ve avoided this if I knew how to budget appropriately.
Start a budget and stick to it. There are a lot of easy budgeting techniques like 50/30/20 rule.
- 50% for needs
- 30% for wants
- 20% for savings
It’s also easier to start thanks to budgeting apps. You can track your budget and spending through your mobile phone.
Bottom line, Don’t spend more than you can earn. Doing so will drive you into unwanted debt.
A considerable part of your budget should become your savings. This will help you prepare for future financial decisions and investments.
Are you planning to buy a house? A car? Get investments? Can you afford it with your savings?
It is essential to start as early as possible to learn to value your money and invest it early. It’s more practical to invest and make mistakes early in your career rather than make mistakes when you’re older and cannot afford to lose money.
Set up an Emergency Fund
This part of your budget is very, very important. These are crucial funds in financial emergencies like when you lose a job, get ill, or have a severe injury.
Most people make the mistake of including their emergency funds in their savings.
Don’t. Use your wants to budget for this fund. Your savings should be used for investments, loan payments, and self-improvement.
A good rule of thumb is to save at least six months of living expenses. This includes bills, medicine, emergency repairs, and groceries. Having an emergency fund will give you confidence and peace of mind when emergencies happen.
Get a Health Insurance
Most companies offer an insurance program as part of their employee benefits. But in case your employer doesn’t provide one. You can look and purchase from private insurance companies.
There are different types of insurance, but one of the most important is getting health insurance. Nobody wants to get sick or hospitalized, but illness or accidents happen.
Hospital bills are expensive, and it can quickly drain your emergency fund, even your life savings if you’re not insured. That’s why you should get health insurance even if you’re young and healthy.
Most people think that they only need to start investing when they get older and earn more. Others feel that investing is too complicated and completely avoids it.
Let me tell you this. You should start as soon as possible. Don’t wait till you’re older or earning more. If I knew this early on in my career, I definitely would have invested more rather than spending my money on bars and other stuff that depreciates in value.
“Why should I invest early?” you may ask.
Because investing early in your career will give your money more time to grow. And the more your investments grow, the more you can diversify.
Imagine an employee who started investing in his 20s vs. someone who started at 35.
Who do you think would have a more significant return on their investment or could retire earlier?
It’s the 20s investor.
Start investing, let your money grow, and earn more money.
You’ll be surprised how quickly expenses will add up when you start working from housing rent, transportation, bills, utility expenses, food, and groceries, etc.
You should identify and understand your monthly expenses. Are you spending on things that you need or just want? Imagine how much money you can save when you cut your daily Starbucks to only once or twice a week.
If you want to maximize your earning, minimize unnecessary expenses. Make sure it is within your budget. Instead of taking a taxi, try riding the train. Avoid eating at restaurants. Instead, you can make your meals. It’s cheaper and healthier.
If you have loans, pay them quickly if you can. While it is very tempting to pay the monthly minimum, the interest will surely add up. The sooner you pay the loan, the sooner you’ll be able to get rid of those interest rates.
Being debt-free is a magical feeling. Peace of mind is priceless.
When you pay all your loans, it frees a portion of your budget. You can use the money you’ll save on other things like investments or save them as an emergency or rainy day fund.
But, loans are sometimes unavoidable. The key here is to know what kind of loan you’re getting from a licensed cash lender like the money lender ang mo kio.
Is it a necessity? An investment? Something to improve the quality of your life?
Or are you getting a loan just to update your perfectly functional phone to its latest version?
Pay your bills on time
When you pay bills on time, you are taking control of your finances. By setting a routine and making a habit of paying on time, you save yourself from a lot of headaches and stress.
Penalties from payment defaults can add up to your monthly expense and negatively reflect your credit rating.
There are several ways to help you pay your bills on time. One is to make a list of your bills, set a specific bill-paying date, and a convenient payment location where you can pay all your bills in one visit.
Another way is to set automated payments with your bank or pay in advance if you have funds to spare.
It’s OK to splurge
Yes, you read it right. It’s OK to splurge once in a while.
Splurging is often perceived as a negative thing. Splurging is usually a random, spur-of-the-moment purchase that will mess your budget. But, if you set aside a “splurge budget” from your wants budget that you can spend without worry, then, by all means, splurge away.
Splurging can feel very rewarding. Just make sure that you won’t go overboard.
Plan for retirement
Even if you’re just starting, you should start planning for retirement. Start visualizing and planning your end goal. It’s never too early to start planning and investing.