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Adjusting to Life With My First Full-Time Job

Written by Amaara Dhanji

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

As a new grad who just started my first full-time job, I've been learning a lot about personal finances.

It's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of having a stable income, and even though I'm excited about being able to spend money exploring downtown Toronto and decorating my new apartment, I've come to realize how important it is to take things slow and think about how I'm allocating my income.

Here's how I'm doing that:

1. Keeping Track of my Budget and Savings Goals

A while back I made a list of some of my future savings goals and how I planned to reach them. However, with more income comes more responsibilities: paying off my student debt, paying more expensive rent and other expenses that can get in the way of those goals.

While I haven't been able to keep track of my everyday spending (I've been playing around with different phone apps), I've found that creating monthly or bi-weekly milestones, comparing my spending history to my budget, is a good way to keep myself in check.

2. I Read My Employment Contract

Taking the time to understand my employment contract has helped me forecast my income and understand what I may or may not have to pay going forward.

I've been spending time researching my benefits package and talking to my human resources representative about selecting the best benefits package for myself.

Realizing I don't have all the answers, I also got advice from my parents since they went through the same thing when they were younger. I wanted to make sure I fully understood what I would be receiving. The same goes for understanding tax deductions.

3. Reminding Myself It's OK to Go Slow

It's a new phase in my life. I'm moving into a new apartment in a new city and starting a new job. That calls for a number of large start-up costs: work clothes, furniture, cookware, decorations, pantry supplies and even a new gym membership.

Originally, I felt like I needed to have everything done and set up before my first day of work. But over time I discovered that's not true—buying everything at once would have put a lot of stress on me and my credit card. To avoid this, I've been purchasing the necessities and slowly saving to buy larger items in the future, like kitchen appliances and bedroom decor.

Enjoying the Moment, Thinking About the Future

These three things have helped me keep my spending and stress levels in check while I continue to experience these changes in my life.

Everyone goes through this time in different ways. I know it can be hard to resist spending that shiny new paycheque all at once, but whenever I feel the urge to spend on something I don't need, I remind myself that if I save, I'll be able to buy something more important down the line. And that includes putting part of my budget aside for celebrating my new job!

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