3 stacks of coins, each larger than the last, with a small plant growing from them meant to represent savings growth

With the excitement of accepting a new job fresh on the mind, it is time to set new financial goals! Your salary may have fluctuated, making it important to not only adjust your budget in the short-term but also create a long-term financial plan. This is especially important if you intend to remain with your new organization for the foreseeable future. We have compiled a few easy steps to set new financial goals, even among the anxiousness of a career shift.

Short-Term Goals: Adjust Your Budget

With your new salary in mind, you will need to adjust your monthly budget to reflect a more accurate depiction of your net income and expenses. Begin by writing down a list of your expenses, taking note of when payments are due, then review your income, being sure to exclude taxes, Social Security, and 401K. From this accurate net income, subtract your fixed expenses to determine your expendable cash. Be sure to update your budget as your expenses or salary change so you have a precise depiction of your overall financial health.

1.   Start Tracking Your Spending

With your budget mapped out and net income determined, it’s time to move on to the next step: tracking your spending. Having an idea of how much money you spend on a weekly basis can help find ways to cut unnecessary expenses and find more financial stability to pay your incurred debts. It can also assist in paying routine common expenses like car payments, mortgage, rent, family care, and loans. Take note of these in your budget and create a plan that allows you to pay these expenses faster to avoid higher interest rates, while still having income set aside for fun and emergencies.

Your new paycheck should be used for your hobbies too, so don’t forget about wants in addition to your needs! With your fixed and variable expenses accounted for, set aside a portion for weekly fun. This gives you a benchmark for how much to spend and tracks habits you can cut back on to further prevent overspending.

2.   Establish an Emergency Fund

Now that you have accepted a new role that offers secure income, you can begin establishing an emergency fund in the case you incur a large, unexpected expense (i.e., medical bills, unplanned home or car repair). There are alternatives to receive large sums of cash quickly, like cashing in previous investments, for example, or selling belongings. Although, when a high stress event occurs and time is of the essence, these are not as feasible as having money readily available in an emergency fund. Not to mention, having a safety net reduces financial stress and anxiety. Consider setting aside a portion of your new paycheck into a separate bank account that is out of sight, out of mind. Save for about three to six months’ worth of basic living expenses to accumulate enough funds for a rainy day. When factored into your budgeted expenses, you won’t even notice its effect on your expendable income.

Mid-Term Goals: Hit Major Milestones

Preparing goals is incredibly important to remaining financially secure and gives you something to strive for as you grow throughout your career. Similarly to how you designed your budget, create a list of your goals with prospective dates for when to complete them, drafting a comprehensive financial plan that outlines next steps.

1.   Decide on Mid-Term Goals

Mid-term goals coincide with future planning and are often the catalyst for long-term objectives. Mid-term goals consist of financial milestones you would like to hit within the next 5-10 years. Common examples for young professionals include buying a home, saving for a wedding, purchasing a car, or starting a family. These are all major investments, so have a plan in place to set aside funds in an untouchable account, similar to an emergency fund, in preparation for these momentous milestones. Create a timeline and prioritize your mid-term goals based on which you want to achieve most, keeping your career path in mind as well. This makes it easier to save and determine overall feasibility based on your growing salary.

2.   Pay Your Debts

It may seem impossible to hit your mid-term goals when trying to pay toward outstanding debt, but don’t panic. Start by tackling your most expensive debt, paying more than the minimum each month. Include these payments in your fixed expenses so the cash amount is accounted for. Don’t be afraid to seek input from a professional financial advisor as well to review your current financial health and keep you on track toward your mid-term goals.

Mid-term investments can be intimidating, and the thought of acquiring debt can be off-putting. Don’t put your goals on hold just yet! Inquire with your new employer about assistance programs they may offer to give you a little extra boost to get that new car or buy your dream home. Also look for resources that outline personal loan options, like FHA loans for new homebuyers that assist in avoiding high-interest credit card debt, or even wedding day loans! There are plenty of smart financial options that can help you reach your goals; it just may take some time to find the best one for you.

Long-Term Goals: Plan for Your Future

It’s impossible to know exactly what your future holds but planning ahead of time can give you something to aim for and get you saving sooner rather than later. Most long-term financial goals encompass a retirement plan, which may seem like a lot to think about after just accepting a new job. There are small steps you can take to start saving now though, to ensure you have comfortable funds to reach post-career goals.

1.   Start Investing Now

With your current budget acting as a reference, estimate your living expenses post retirement. Adding a little room for unexpected factors like medical bills or travel expenses, and subtracting pensions and social security, create an accurate outlook of the money you will need entering retirement. Once you have an idea of how much money you’ll need, set a date and use a retirement calculator to determine if you are on track to retire by this tentative date.

Ask your new employer about their retirement plans to start saving through a 401K plan. This low risk investment takes a small portion of your paycheck, applies an employer match of anywhere from 3%-7% of what you contribute, without you having to think about it (for every dollar invested, up to 4% of your gross salary, PSCI will match 50% of your investment)! This automatic plan is an effortless way to save for your future, without even noticing the money is allocated elsewhere from your net income.

This is a guest piece written exclusively for PSCI

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