The Gravy Train Reaches its Final Stop!
Congrats to all the new college grads! We are all so proud, but how do you feel? I’m guessing you have mixed emotions — you don’t want the (mostly) carefree lifestyle to end, but you’re excited to start a new chapter and finally earn your own money.
Guess what? Your parents are excited for you to earn your own money too!
Hopefully, you did find that first job. What a great feeling to get that first paycheck. Ok, direct deposit — does anyone actually get a check these days?
Then reality kicks in. Rent, food, hanging out with friends — that adds up. What about all those expenses that were somehow “magically” paid by you know who. Were you aware that Amazon prime costs $139 a year? Don’t get me started on cell phone bills.
You’ve been riding on the gravy train and it looks like the last stop is coming up. (You never learned about a gravy train in college? In the 20’s, that would be the 1920s, railroad workers used the term to describe a “gig” with good pay and little work. Kind of like that last semester).
Where do you start when it comes to making your own money decisions? A simple budget.
Calculate your earnings after taxes (but before other deductions such as 401k contributions) and divide it into 3 categories as follows:
- 50% The Basics (rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, healthcare)
- 30% The Fun Stuff (entertainment, dining out, travel, personal care)
- 20% The Future (paying off debt / student loans, 401k contributions, rainy day fund, saving for a specific goal)
I know you are asking, shouldn’t the “fun stuff” be the highest percentage? Unfortunately, no! Start “the real world” off on the right foot.
Most importantly, LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS. Do not take on credit card debt to maintain your image on social media. Successful savers will scroll by you and not care about your $25 fancy cocktail… and let’s be honest, too many fancy cocktails will not only leave you broke but broke with a horrible headache… and Excedrin is not cheap. But you can enjoy that 30% of your paycheck; you’ve earned it!
Hey, one more idea, with Mother’s Day around the corner, treat your parents to brunch and say thanks — especially if they were the ones driving your gravy train all these years.
Kristyn Gibson, CFP®
Kristyn is a Senior Financial Advisor at Rappaport Reiches Capital Management. Through a comprehensive approach, she will be your partner, and help navigate life’s financial decisions. Please connect with Kristyn below. She loves to talk about investing, financial planning, and travelling with family and friends.