First “Real” Job? Here’s What to Do With Your New Paycheck
You did it. You landed your first “real” job.
Entering the professional world and securing your first real job is an exciting moment. This is one of the reasons you spent all those years studying. Unfortunately, many will waste their new paycheck. Along with the increased income comes the responsibility of managing your finances wisely an in alignment with the Bible. It's essential to establish a solid financial foundation early. Here are some key moves to consider when it comes to managing your money effectively and making the most of your first real job.
1. Figure out what Money Milestone you are on.
The 8 Money Milestones can serve as a helpful financial guide. They can answer the question, “What financial step do I need to take next.” Working these Money Milestones early can get you on the track toward becoming financially healthy for the sake of advancing God’s Kingdom. So, check them out here.
2. Build a Blueprint for Mission (aka a budget).
You need a plan for your finances. A budget acts as a blueprint for your financial goals and helps you allocate your income wisely. Start by listing all your income sources and then itemize your monthly expenses. Categorize your expenses into essentials (such as rent, utilities, groceries) and discretionary spending (such as dining out, entertainment). Give every dollar a mission. This will give you a clear overview of where your money is going and allow you to identify areas where you can cut back and save.
3. Be generous.
Giving financially is a concept deeply rooted in biblical teachings. The Bible provides clear guidance on the importance of generosity, emphasizing its spiritual significance and the eternal impact that can be made on our communities and world.
According to the Bible, we are to make giving a priority. For most of us, this means giving a portion of our pre-tax income away. The Bible also teaches us to give proportionately, giving a percent of what we earn. Finally, the Bible teaches us to give sacrificially and cheerfully.
Giving is portrayed as an act of worship and obedience to God. It is seen as a way to honor God with the resources He has entrusted to us. Giving financially is a tangible expression of gratitude towards God for His provision. It recognizes that everything we have ultimately belongs to Him. He is the owner. By giving, we demonstrate our trust in God's provision and acknowledge His sovereignty over our lives.
4. Start saving for retirement ASAP.
I know—it may seem premature to think about retirement when you're just starting your career. However, the sooner you start saving, the more time your money has to grow through the power of compound interest. Take full advantage of your employer's retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k) or a similar retirement account. Contribute enough to take full advantage of any employer matching contributions. Some refer to the match as “free money.” I prefer to call it “earned money” since it is part of the benefits package that you work for.
If your employer doesn't offer a retirement savings plan, consider opening an individual retirement account (IRA) and make regular contributions to it. Starting early and consistently contributing to retirement savings will give you a significant advantage in building a retirement fund that can allow you to live and give generously after you stop working for income.
5. Keep driving your college car.
One of the most common temptations when starting a real job is to splurge on a new car. You will see many of your friend and colleague do this. But while it may be tempting to upgrade your car with your increased income, it's wise to keep driving your college car if it's still in good condition.
Cars are depreciating assets, meaning their value decreases over time. By continuing to drive your current vehicle, you can save money on monthly car payments, insurance, and maintenance costs. Instead, allocate those funds towards generosity, debt payoffs, savings, or other financial goals.
If you do eventually decide to upgrade your car, consider purchasing a used vehicle instead of brand new. Used cars offer good value for money and can save you a significant amount compared to buying new.
6. Get aggressive with debt.
Finally, start getting aggressive with any debt you may have. Our financial priority is generosity, and debt crushes our ability to live and give generously. The longer you allow credit card debt, automobile loans, and student loans hang around, the more money you pay and the more they weigh you down. If you have significant debt, consider maintaining your college standard of living until your debt is eliminated.
These are exciting times for you. Make the most of your new paycheck. Your future self with thank you.