Friday, August 13, 2010

Money advice for new graduates

1. Define your financial goals. What do you want to have in the future? Write down your goals and a general timetable so you can remind yourself of your goals later on. Some good goals are: having a car in three years' time, enrolling in graduate school in five years' time, establishing an emergency fund within a year. By having a timetable, your goals become more realistic and attainable.

2. Look for a job that will use your skills, give you room for growth, and will give you steady income enough to meet your needs and allow you to save. The job market is very competitive but that does not mean that you should grab the first job opportunity that comes by. Weigh the pros and cons of each job offer and choose wisely. If the job offer comes with additional benefits such as car plan, subsidy for further studies, and profit-sharing, that's even better.
3. Once you have a firm job offer, draft a budget to help you plan your monthly spending. With a new job, you will have a steady income coming in. Start by saving first (see next item below), then allot amounts for regular expenses such as food, transportation, clothing, and others. Live within your means.
4. Open a separate bank account for savings, different from your payroll account. This will be for your savings. Ideally, you should deposit money here regularly and make the money grow for future consumption. Ideally, too, you should take out the money meant for your savings (at least 10 percent of your income) as soon as you get your pay, so you won't be tempted to spend all of your income.
5. Save up for an emergency fund. Make this your priority for saving. Build up a fund equal to three to six months' worth of your expenses so that if anything happens-you lose your job or get sick-you can have a fund to dip into to help you in your day-to-day expenses.

Don't touch this fund unless there's an emergency (thus the name). You can put this fund in a time deposit or money market account for easy access.
6. Once you have saved up enough money for an emergency fund, tackle your other savings goals. Save for that car or dream home in the future. Don't forget to start saving for a retirement fund because the earlier you do it, the better as compound interest will make your money earn even more without you doing anything. To give your savings a kick (in terms of growth), look into investing them in instruments or accounts that may give you more interest or yield than what a savings account may offer. Talk to your bank for more details.
7. Get insurance coverage. You'll never know what's going to happen, but it pays to be prepared always. Take out a life insurance policy if you have dependents. Buying life insurance while you are young also means paying for lower premiums. If your company does not give free health insurance, make sure you get one for yourself. With health care costs escalating and more so as you get older, it will do you good to have some form of coverage in place.
8. Read up on financial matters. Sharpen your financial IQ by reading more about personal finance and attending personal finance seminars. You can learn from experts to help you stay on the right track financially.

Good luck and we hope all your financial dreams come true.

Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network

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