Money tips for starting a career

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Receiving a job offer is a major accomplishment. But before you pop the champagne and sign your offer letter on the spot, there are a number of financial considerations that you might want to keep in mind to help set yourself up for success. You may want to take a moment to think about the full financial picture of your new role – it could impact your future more than you might think. 

What we’ll cover

  • Negotiating your salary
  • Optimising your company’s pension scheme
  • Saving for the unexpected
  • Developing good credit habits 
  • Your short and long-term financial plans

Negotiate your salary

As you’re starting your career, it can be a good idea to make sure that the salary aligns with your goals and values your skills. 

You may want to do some research to understand your market value. By looking at salary ranges listed in similar job advertisements and talking to peers in your industry, you can get a better sense of the average salary for your role and company.  

It can be helpful to negotiate from a position of strength. Even if you’re young and don’t have much experience, you still have something valuable to offer and it’s important to keep sight of that.   

Having said that, flexibility can be important and you may want to keep in mind that your salary is a two-way negotiation. You might go back and forth with your employer until you agree.    

Keep in mind, too, that salary is just one component of total compensation. There’s usually more to it than the headline number.  

Understand your company’s pension scheme 

Retirement might be the farthest thing from your mind as you start your career, but it can be a good idea to start saving early.   

One important component of saving for retirement is a pension scheme. If you’re working for a company in the UK, your employer is legally required to offer you access to a workplace pension.  

Today, companies often have defined contribution schemes. In this scheme, both you and your employer contribute into your pension.  

As you’re planning your contributions, it’s important to keep in mind that in most cases you won’t be able to access your workplace pension until your 55th birthday, so you may want to consider that when deciding how much of your savings to keep in your pension.  

Save for the unexpected 

As you start collecting your first pay cheques, you may want to consider stashing some money away for a rainy day. Your ‘emergency fund’ should be enough to cover unexpected expenses or provide some reserves in case you lose your job.  

While the size of your emergency fund is up to you, many financial experts recommend having enough money to cover at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses, covering things like your housing costs, food, and more.  

Your emergency fund can help give peace of mind that just in case something unexpected comes up, you’ll still be financially secure.  

Read more about keeping an emergency fund

Create a good credit routine

Bad habits are hard to break, so it can be a good idea to start early when establishing a good credit routine. 

Having a good credit score may be important for a number of reasons. As one example, banks often look at your credit report when deciding whether to lend you money or give you a credit card. 

Factors that can impact your credit score may include if you pay your bills on time, how much money you owe, and the amount of debt you have.  

Credit history is built up over time, so it might be beneficial to position yourself well from the start. This can mean registering on the electoral roll, paying your bills on time, and checking for fraudulent activity.   

Find out more about what can affect your credit score

Creating a financial plan for your success 

Though you might not have a clear sense of where your life will take you as you start your career, it can be beneficial to think ahead.

It may be a good idea to consider establishing your financial goals – short, medium, and long-term and create a plan for how to achieve them. Working towards your goal incrementally can help them feel more achievable.  

As things change, you can monitor and review your plan and adjust when needed, and consider consulting a financial advisor.

The big picture  

The beginning of your career can be the start of a lot of exciting things, including setting yourself up on a path towards financial success.  

Managing your money might sound intimidating, but when it’s done right it can actually help simplify your life so you can focus more attention to your career and personal life, rather than fretting about your finances.  


The content in this article is for information only and is not advice. All content in this article was accurate on the date of publication shown above.

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