How To Build A Budget With Your First Real Salary


Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Photo : Jp Valery on Unsplash

Your first real salary is an exciting thing, but also comes with considerations like taxes, retirement plans, and health insurance. And with your new, steady income, it's a great time to set a budget for yourself.

If you're not used to managing money, it can be tough to figure out how to make a budget that works for you. Here's a step-by-step guide to creating a budget with your first real salary.

Calculate your take-home pay

The first step in budgeting is figuring out how much money you actually have to work with on a monthly basis. This is your take-home pay, which is the amount of money you make after taxes and other deductions are taken out of your paycheck. 

This is also usually the number on your paycheck-the amount that gets deposited into your checking account. If you're paid twice a month, your monthly take-home pay is the sum of both paychecks. If you're paid weekly or bi-weekly, this might involve a little more math. 

Figure out your fixed costs

The next step is to figure out your fixed costs-these are the expenses that you must pay every month, like rent, utilities, car payments, student loan payments, and insurance.

Start by making a list of all your fixed costs. Then, use your take-home pay to figure out how much money you have left over after paying for these expenses.

Cut expenses

Now it's time to start looking at ways to save money. One way to do this is by cutting expenses-that is, reducing the amount of money you're spending in certain areas.

You can see if there are any subscription services that you're no longer using and cancel them. You can also see if there are any recurring payments that you can reduce or eliminate.

You can also look at your discretionary spending-this is the money you spend on things like entertainment, dining out, and shopping. If you're trying to save money, you may want to cut back on your discretionary spending. 

Finally, you can try to negotiate some of your bills. For example, you can call your cable company and see if they're willing to give you a lower monthly rate. Chances are, if you're just starting out, you might have student loans. You can even refinance student loans for a lower interest rate and monthly payment.

Decide how much you want to save

Once you know how much money you're working with, it's time to start thinking about your savings goals. A good rule of thumb is to save 10-20% of your income, but you may want to save more or less depending on your financial goals. For example, if you're trying to save up for a down payment on a house, you may want to save 20-25% of your income.

When in doubt, use the 50/30/20 rule

If you're still not sure how to divvy up your money, or you have trouble sticking to a budget, you can use the 50/30/20 rule. Under this rule, you would:

  • Allocate 50% of your budget to fixed costs like rent and utilities

  • Allocate 30% of your budget to variable costs like food and entertainment

  • Allocate 20% of your budget to savings and investments

Of course, you don't have to strictly follow this rule-it's just a guideline. The important thing is that you figure out a budget that works for you.

You're on your way

Now that you know how to make a budget with your first real salary, it's time to start putting it into practice. See what your budget looks like and where you can allocate your money to start saving for the future.

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