1. Evaluate Your Goals
Think about your goals. What do you want to accomplish and when? Starting a job without a clear-cut income flow, especially at the beginning, will limit your ability to fund goals like paying down a mortgage or funding the kid’s college savings plan.
2. Earn, Save, Spend, Repeat
Even when your income stream is unsteady it is still a good plan to save- and save before you spend if you can. A minimum of 10%, although it might sound repetitive at this point, is the mathematically correct answer. If you start young, that percentage should do it. As you get closer to retirement you must increase that percentage to make up for lost time if you couldn’t save before. All in all, save, save what you can, and make the most of your money by paying the tax up front if you are just starting your career.
3. Put Your Health First
If your company has a health insurance plan, it’s always a good idea to look it over. If you don’t have any health insurance right now- you should get some. Take the high deductible plan and open a Health Savings Account (HSA) to cover the difference in premium payment and needs. You can put up to $3,400 per year into an HSA, but how much you should contribute depends on your income and personal needs.
4. Put Other’s Needs Second
Do you have a spouse? Children? Anyone who depends on you? If so, you should have life insurance in place for a worst-case outcome. You should get disability coverage if it is offered for sure and you may need to purchase more depending on the need of your dependents.
5. Put Your Personal Assets Third
Will you be using your car for work? Make sure it is up-to-date on repairs, maintenance, and insurance. You may need to increase your coverage if you will be driving it more than usual or using it for activities unlike what you have in the past (like driving in more rural areas or with more passengers). Maybe you should consider leasing or buying a new car for work, you can negotiate a lower interest rate and down payment for a less-hassle situation.
Do you have a home office? Did you buy the newest iMac for convenience and a motivation to work? Make sure these things are insured too. Homeowners or renters insurance is a must if you have a home office. If an accident occurs you won’t have to shut down because you weren’t ready for the worst. Make sure and check with the IRS to get all your home office deductions too!
All in all, think ahead, have a safety net, and reach for the stars. Even if income is slow at the beginning, your job can become very lucrative. If you have more questions, consider speaking to a financial advisor to make sure you are covered on all fronts.