If only we were taught about such things as mortgages, credit cards and tax in school, maybe then we’d be a whole lot more prepared for the world of adulting. Alas, as soon as we’ve chucked our hats in the air, we’re out there in the big wide world on our own, left to navigate interest rates and budgets where once the only budget we had to handle was for foam parties and Super Noodles. Ok, and a few utility bills.
To help anyone who’s new to paychecks and pension pots, we asked Ola, Founder and Creator of All Things Money, for her top tips on taking control of your personal finances, investing your hard-earned cash and how to budget like a pro afterlife on campus, so that you can get to grips with the basics, cultivate better money habits and learn the all-important life skill of managing your buck with confidence.
Ready to get money-smart and start looking after those precious pennies? From the best bank accounts to student loan repayments and the financial mistakes every post-grad needs to avoid, here’s some nuggets of money wisdom to help you manage your spending and plan ahead for this exciting next chapter of your life!
Paycheck decoded – what is gross pay, net pay and National Insurance?
When it comes to starting your very first job, it can often be daunting when you are handed your first payslip and are expected to know what everything means! Here is a quick breakdown of your payslip:
Gross income: This is your total income before taxes, or any other deductions are made.
Net income: This is your total income once taxes and other deductions such as your student loan payment has been paid.
Income Tax: Income Tax is a tax we have to pay on our total earnings. More often than not, this tax is paid on all taxable income earned by you within the current tax year which runs from April 6th to April 5th the following year.
National Insurance: National insurance contributions (NICs) are paid by both employers and employees. The money received by the UK Government helps fund state benefits such as statutory sick pay, unemployment allowance and the state pension.
How does income tax work in the UK?
The longer you have to be able to build your savings up!Ola Majekodunmi
For the 21/22 financial year, we are all currently allowed to earn £12,570 tax-free – that’s a fair amount right? However, if your yearly salary is above this, you will then have to pay the appropriate level of tax on any income after £12,570. So, if you are earning over £12,570 and below £50,000 you will have to pay the basic tax rate of 20% on the difference between the two.
Is it too soon to start thinking about retirement funds?
In my opinion, you are never too young to start thinking about your retirement fund! This is because the sooner you start contributing towards your retirement, the longer you have to be able to build your savings up!
Why do graduates stills need to pay into a pension pot?
If you can, it is always a good idea to contribute towards your pension. This is because your pension is there for you to enjoy your retirement comfortably! Once you reach retirement age, the last thing you want to do is have to pick up a part-time job just to afford your basic living costs. It’s important to know, however, that if you are currently over the age of 22 and are currently earning over £6,240, then you will be automatically enrolled on your workplace pension!
How should you split your paycheck and what are the key things to consider?
A very popular budgeting method that people like to use on a regular basis is the 50/30/20 budgeting method.Ola Majekodunmi
A very popular budgeting method that people like to use on a regular basis is the 50/30/20 budgeting method. This is where 50% of your income is spent on your needs. This will consist of your rent, bills, your weekly food shop and anything else you would class as necessary spending (sadly, a trip to the pub doesn’t fall into this category!) 30% of your income should then be spent on your wants. Would you like to treat yourself to a bottomless brunch? Or a trip to the cinema? This is what this pot is for! And lastly, 20% of your income should then be spent on saving for your future self. This money can either go towards saving, investing or your very own pension pot. If these allocations don’t work for you, then please don’t stress! You can always readjust these categories to suit your financial situation. Why not try 60/20/20? Or 70/25/5? It’s completely up to you!
How much of our pay packet should we be putting away for a rainy day, either into savings or an emergency fund?
When it comes to saving towards an emergency fund or, if you are just looking to create a separate pot of savings, it is usually recommended to save around 10-20% of your monthly income into a separate bank account. However, only you know how much you are able to save, so whether that is £20 or £1000 a month, what matters is that you are saving for your future self as you never know when that money may come in handy!
Why don’t all graduates pay student loans back straight away?
In the UK, you don’t have to pay towards your student loan until the April after you graduate and once your income is over £27,295 a year.Ola Majekodunmi
For some, the thought of repaying those hefty student loans can often be a very overwhelming thought. However, in the UK, you do not actually have to pay towards your student loan until the April after you graduate and once your income is over £27,295 a year. So, until your yearly salary is over this amount, you do not have to pay back a single penny! However, please bear in mind that this only applies to Plan 2 student loans (student loans taken out after September 2012).
What are the benefits of budgeting?
Budgeting is vital if you’re looking to stay on top of your finances and stay out of debt. Due to the current economic climate, budgeting is probably more important than ever! This is because setting a budget helps us allocate our money accordingly and enables us to identify where all of our money is going. The whole aim of a budget is to hopefully reduce your chances of overspending. Been guilty of spending too much either on takeaways, or nights out? Well, why a budget may be of some use!
Top 5 tips for creating a budget and sticking to it…
My 4 top budgeting tips are:
- Set yourself a realistic budget. There is no point setting yourself a budget of £100 a month if you’re not going to stick to it!
- Once you have set yourself a realistic budget, I would highly recommend opening a separate bank account to hold your budget (I personally use Monzo for this!) Opening a separate bank account may help reduce your chances of overspending as you can set yourself a weekly limit of how much money you are allowed to spend.
- If opening a separate bank account isn’t for you, then another way of helping you stick to your budget is to cash your weekly budget out instead. Seeing your money physically can often be a great deterrent for spending your money willy-nilly!
- If sticking to your budget is something you struggle to do, then I would also recommend downloading a budgeting app that can help set your budgets for you. Apps such as Monzo and Emma are great for this!
Any apps you swear by for keeping your own personal finances in check?
My absolute favourite app is Monzo! I use Monzo to hold my weekly budget and to help me create multiple saving pots! The app is also great at tracking your spending and showing you where you spend your money. Another great app I would highly recommend is Emma. This is because Emma is another great app that helps you set budgets and helps you actually stick to them!
Stock market 101 – what does investing your money really mean and how do you get started in the stock market?
Investing can sometimes be seen as a good alternative to putting your money away into a regular cash savings account. Rather than allowing your money to sit in a bank account to earn interest, you can invest your money into companies listed on the stock market. The aim of investing is to purchase your stocks and shares, in the hope that they will increase in price, resulting in a profit.
If you are looking to invest in the stock market, it is important to conduct thorough research before putting any money on the stock market as there is an element of risk associated with investing. A great resource to help you get started is checking out All Things Money on Instagram!
How do you start building your credit score?
What many people don’t know is that you already have a credit score, whether you have used credit in the past or not, you will certainly have a credit score! However, if you are looking to increase your score, there are a few ways you can do so:
- Join the electoral register as this shows lenders that you live at a set address.
- Have some bills in your name and make sure you pay them on time!
- Avoid making too many credit applications in a short space of time, as this can hurt your overall credit score.
- Lastly, you can opt to use a credit card, but please make sure you use it responsibly. I can’t stress this point enough!
What are the pros and cons of getting a credit card?
Getting a credit card may not be for everyone. Because of this, here is a quick list of the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision:
- When it comes to getting a credit card, they can help you build up your score if used responsibly.
- Some credit cards offer rewards such as air miles and cashback.
- They can also offer increased purchase protection as your credit card offers a certain level of protection that debit cards do not offer.
- They can be great if you are looking to spread the cost of large purchases.
- High interest rates will be applied if your credit card balance is not paid in full every month.
- If you fail to repay the minimum requirements, this can have a negative impact on your credit card score.
- And lastly, if your credit card is not used wisely, then you can end up in a lot of debt which we want to avoid at all costs!
3 financial mistakes every grad needs to avoid…
- As a graduate, please try and avoid living without a budget! This is absolutely crucial as the last thing you want to do is find yourself in a lot of debt. Ideally, you want to set yourself a budget that you can stick to, which can hopefully reduce your chances of overspending unnecessarily!
- Another mistake every graduate needs to avoid, is not having a pot of savings. Savings are crucial in the event of an emergency, or just for future you. Whether that’s for a new car, house, or even a holiday! The last thing you want is to find yourself in a sticky situation, and not having the funds to help you out. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to have a savings pot with hundreds or thousands of pounds in. As I mentioned earlier whether you are able to contribute £20 or £1000 a month, it all adds up!
- Lastly, if you can, avoid getting yourself into debt! Whether that is credit card debt, or getting a bank loan, it’s always a good idea to avoid this if possible as debt can sometimes lead to a downward spiral which we want to avoid at all costs!