Personal finance management while you are in your first job, right out of college

 

You survived college. You got your first job. Now, you are earning! What next? How do you manage your finances? Well, here are some tips !!

Paying off student loans

Though this is a priority and you are very stressed about it, if you have techie/management job, you likely make enough money to pay it off in a year or 2. Its Ok to still spend on a good apartment now and furnish it well. Ikea is a popular place to shop for start up furniture at reasonable cost. Plan for getting laid off at any time. I’d recommend $10000 liquid cash at all times. If you have a dependent spouse, add $10000. For kids, I cannot advice but you get the picture.

Negotiate a salary which is standard or more for your education and experience for your geographical location. Lookup glassdoor etc. Always ask for more 🙂 Its a lot easier now than asking for a raise and bonuses later. Also, a joining bonus is no trade for a salary cut. One is a flat rate, the other grows. Your raise will be a percentage of your salary. After 1.5 years and/or promotion is a good time to ask for more, a salary hike or a new higher paying job.

 

Track and maintain your finances

One popular tool is Mint.com. You enter your credit card information and it gives you pie charts and graphs about your spending habits. The idea is to save close to 60%. If you go below, better to track where the money went.

Your company contributes to your retirement account. It’s called 401K. they match up to a certain amount that varies from company to company. That is, if you contribute 5% of your salary to your account, they will contribute the same. Max out this limit  and do not touch it unless you really know what you are doing.

If your parents are not in great health, it is wise to plan for that as well. If you want to invest in India, better to have an Indian account active while you are here. I have an NRO account with my mother as power of attorney only for that account. This saved my business partner a lot of paperwork.

Dental work, Indian Spices, Indian clothes are all cheaper in India. These are good to take care of when you visit.

Its good to start thinking from the get go, where you want to settle eventually, India or abroad. If your mind is made up, better to start investing in property soon. I am in Seattle for 6 years on a work Visa. If I had better advice, I would have bought a condo in downtown Seattle instead of flushing down my money in rent.

Also, company stocks. Know when to sell. I used to work for Microsoft and still have stock. So, I follow it and sell it when I need money or think I’ve made enough with it. Fidelity is the tool I use to trade stocks.

 

Tools/websites that help with financial portfolio management

My favorite article on online tools for portfolio management comparison is https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/online-advisor-comparison/

Financial advisors are useful once stocks start being interesting to you and you have ~50/60K to play around with. If you have a rich daddy, you might need a personal financial advisor!!

My finances are humble enough to manage by myself at the moment My big investment is the down payment for my condo I am planning to purchase. That leaves me with little to invest elsewhere. My company’s financial advisor told put it this way: What if your dream home needs a measly $5000 more in down payment and you’ve held them in stock? Plan accordingly. I love the philosophy of “Rich dad poor dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. If nothing else, it’ll motivate and excite you about your money.

Author: Nazneen Malik

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Nazneen is a software engineer based in the Greater Seattle area since 2010. She is originally from Mumbai. She did her B.E. in Computer Engineering and then worked as a Software Developer in Mumbai for 2 years.  After that she moved to Utah to do her Masters in Computer Science in 2008. She is  passionate about her career and serving the community. For fun she likes to read, hike, salsa dance and travel!

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