Day #1: Get Organized!
Before you start the job hunt, have you checked your credit report to ensure there are no errors? Do it for free at www.annualcreditreport.com. Employers do check credit reports to determine if you have responsibly managed your financial life. This helps them determine how responsible you are.
Do you know what your optimal tax withholding is? This is the number that you put on the W-4 form when you start a new job. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator.
Do you know your possible future salary? Start plugging your numbers into a spending plan. Use the SMMC Financial Toolkit. This will be your financial road map that will help your determine how much you will have to spend on housing, retirement, debt payments, etc.
Do you know how much you have in student loans? Find out now.
Do you know how much your monthly repayment amount will be under the Standard 10-Year Repayment Plan? Find out now.
Do you think you need a lower monthly repayment amount? Review the different repayment plans.
Do you know if you would qualify for student loan forgiveness programs? Find out now.
Add student loan payments and other debt payments to your spending plan.
Day #2: Plan for the Future!
Have you thought about what you want your money to help you achieve within the next 5 years? Do you want to buy a house, go to Europe, or start your own business? Determine how much you need to save each month to reach your goals. Add to your spending plan.
Do you have an emergency savings fund to cover 3 to 6 months of your living expenses? If not, add to your spending plan.
Have you ever estimated how much you need to save for your retirement? Find out now.
If your employer offers a 401K - which is an employer-sponsored retirement account typically made up of mutual funds, which is a professionally managed collection of investments that typically include stocks & bonds - do you know what percentage of your salary you need to contribute to get your employer’s match, which is free money for your retirement? Find out more about 401K plans.
Day #3: Plan to Save Money on Major Purchases!
Do you handle credit wisely so you are constantly increasing your credit score? Your credit score is a numerical value that helps determine what interest rate you get on mortgages, auto loans, and personal loans. The higher your score, the less interest you pay on borrowed money. Good credit management habits:
- Pay all bills on time
- Only use 30% or less of the credit you have available
- Only open the accounts you need
- Keep accounts you do have open to build up good payment histories
- Consider using installment credit (auto loans, mortgages) - These types of credit improve your score more than credit cards
Do you check your credit report at least 3 times per year to ensure you are not a victim of identity theft? Do it for free at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Haven’t ever used credit? You may consider working on building a credit score now. You can get a credit card, use it once a month, and pay off the balance in full each month. Or you can apply for a personal loan and make the monthly payments.
Day #4: Take the Mystery Out of Insurance & Taxes!
If you have a job offer, have you reviewed the health plan? Do you know what is covered and what is not? Do you know your deductible amount, which is the amount of money that YOU need to pay before any benefits from the health insurance policy can be used? Remember, the higher the deductible, the less the monthly amount due - called a premium.
If you are offered a Health Savings Account, do you know if this is a good option for you? If you have lots of medical expenses that you pay for out of your pockets, you can have a portion of your paycheck, BEFORE taxes are taken out, deposited into an HSA and can withdraw the money to pay for medical expenses. Find out more about HSAs.
Do you have adequate renter’s insurance? This insurance covers damage or theft of your personal belongings. Find out more about renter's insurance.
Do you have adequate auto insurance? Nebraska’s minimum liability limits are $25,000/$50,000/$25,000.
Are you shopping around for the best auto insurance rates at least once a year? Are you sure you’re getting all the discounts you qualify for, such as good driver, vehicle safety, or defensive driving course completion?
Before you get your taxes done, do you research all the tax credits and deductions you qualify for? Find out more.