The mid-year holidays are here, which for many tertiary students means it’s time to suit up for an internship, go on that overseas trip they’ve been saving up for or prepare for an intensive month of DOTA.
But for the class of 2017, this June will mark the start of your entry into the rat race. Those who’ve found a full-time job prior to graduation will be getting read to shop at G2000. For those who haven’t, it’s time to hit JobsDB.com.
Before you show up at your new job (and if you haven’t found it yet, take heart—it will come), here are five things you absolutely must do.
1. Come with your new, adult budget
As a student, you probably got $xxx per month in allowance from your parents and/or as wages from a part-time job. You’d try to make it last the entire month, and that was that.
As a working adult, it’s no longer enough to make sure you’ve got enough cash until your next paycheck. You’ve got to actively set aside money as savings and investments, because one day you could be too old and tired to work, and that money will then have to last you the rest of your life.
When you get your first real paycheck, you’ll probably have more money than you’ve ever had in your life. But there will also be new expenses which will hit you in the face like a sledgehammer.
Assuming you continue to live rent-free with your parents (and even if you don’t), like many Singaporeans it’s likely you’ll be expected to contribute to household expenses or give your parents allowance. You’ll also have to factor in the cost of commuting to your workplace and having lunch outside of home every weekday.
All this means you’ll need to come up with a budget befitting of your newfound status as an adult. Resist the urge to skip this step, as you’ll soon discover that a grown-up salary is all too easy to squander.
So decide upfront how much you want to set aside each month, and how much you can afford to spend, and then stick to that budget. Transfer a portion of your salary into an untouchable savings account each month if you must.
2. Clean up your Internet presence
Facebook for students serves a very different function than Facebook for adults.
Throughout your university, poly or ITE days, your Facebook account might have served as a conduit for photos of all your wildest exploits. But as an adult it is now something potential bosses will be Googling up before deciding whether or not to hire you. Heck, you might even get hired or fired because of something you’ve posted online.
So spend some time cleaning up all your social media accounts, blogs and websites, making sure you are not publishing things that you wouldn’t want people at work to see.
It’s not just drunken photos you might have to remove. Ask yourself if you want your future boss or coworkers to know about your political and religious beliefs, your kinky hobbies, your sexual preferences, your troll-ly comments and so on, and then remove any online traces of them.
3. Build up an emergency fund
As a working adult, you’re on your own now. If you get an eye infection and end up getting charged $200 by the hospital, that’s coming out of your pocket. If you use your credit cards to get yourself out of an emergency and then can’t pay the bills, you’re the one responsible.
So start to build up an emergency fund right away. Your emergency fund should hold 3-6 months’ worth of your monthly expenses, depending on how much of your salary you spend each month and how stable your income is.
4. Start planning for retirement
Yes, you heard that right. You might be in the flower of youth, but believe me when I say that the sooner you start preparing for retirement, the sooner you’ll get to actually retire.
So don’t hesitate to jump into retirement planning as soon as you can. Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect, and you can always change it later. The important thing is that you start to save and invest in some way as early as possible. That will put you light years ahead of your peers who only start decades later.
5. Buy medical insurance
You might be young and strong, but you’re not invincible. And should you require hospitalisation for whatever reason, it can wipe out what little savings you have as a fresh grad. You’ll be glad if you’ve got medical insurance to complement your existing MediShield Life plan.
You can get an Integrated Shield Plan that enhances what you already have with MediShield Life. The yearly premiums for a basic plan aren’t going to be very expensive in your 20s, so don’t worry—if you can afford to treat your entire crew to a round of celebratory drinks, you can afford this.
As a fresh grad, what are you doing to prepare yourself for the working world? Tell us in the comments!