As a student, you can find yourself caught up in the bubble of student loans, bailouts from your parents and the ease of a part-time job – but after graduation, reality hits as its time to pop the university bubble and enter adulthood. It’s worthwhile considering how you plan to finance yourself once the hard work and fun is over.
Once you’re no longer eligible to live in student accommodation, you have to make the decision of whether to return home and live with your parents, or stand on your own two feet. For some of you, putting money aside for a property of your own may be high on your list of priorities. As your circumstances change, so will your needs. For example, you may want to purchase a car to help with your daily commute.
Your goals will be individual to you, but whatever they are, you’ll need to plan carefully to keep them within reach.
Establish your goals
Common goals include saving for physical items or experiences, such as a home, car or holiday – but these will vary person to person based upon your needs.
It might seem way too early to consider your pension, having just graduated from university, but it’s never too early to start contributing to your retirement fund. In a recent report by Scottish Widows, 22 to 29 year olds said they’d need to put away £22,717.60 to retire comfortably. Considering we put aside an average of £142 a month towards our pension, it’s important to start contributing to our pensions as soon as we can to make sure we can reach our goals.
Your goals must be within reach – make sure you make them achievable and realistic. You may want to categorise your goals based on timescales. For example, a short-term goal might be buying a car, while a long-term goal could be contributing to your pension.
the first step is defining your goals, you’ll then need to quantify them. Failing to quantify them makes them easy to fall behind on. Your goals will only become achievable if you can iron out details and decide Whilst roughly how much you need to contribute and when you want to achieve it by. Setting timescales is important, as it gives you something to strive for. However, timescales should be realistic and achievable – you don’t want to put added strain on your current finances that are unnecessary.
Create a budget
Deciding how much you can afford to set aside each month is dependent on your current financial situation. You must first list all of your outgoings and monthly expenses before you can figure out a monthly budget to set aside. Categorising your outgoings together —such as housing, utilities, transportation, food, and entertainment — will make it easier to make sense of your current situation.
You must paint a true picture of your current financial situation, as you don’t want to leave yourself short each month. Remember to consider irregular outgoings, such as one-off insurance payments or maintenance costs. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ does not apply here; be truthful about your expenses to create a budget that will work for you. You can also consider areas that you might be able to cut back on so that your monthly budget is bigger.
You’ll need to consider what is the best way for you to invest your money to support any potential positive growth. Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) are a popular choice, as they offer a tax-free way to put money aside. This means you won’t pay any tax on the interest your account generates.
Stocks and Shares ISAs are one option if you’re looking to save a significant amount, as the amount you put aside is invested in bonds, property or stocks and shares. This mean you could get out more than you pay in, although there is a level of risk involved.
Ultimately, always choose the most suitable investment option for you based on what you’re putting money aside for, the level of return you’ll receive and the associated risk.