Getting into the workforce for the first time is quite special. You've worked hard for your degree, and you're ready to apply your education to make the world a better place, or at the very least, ready for the salary credit at the end of the month. If you've just started earning, congratulations on the job! The more women in the workforce, the more women friendly offices become. Here are five things you should consider when you get your pay check, so you can secure yourself a financially sound future.
Pay off loans
If you'd taken a loan to study, you'd do well to start paying it off right away. Most banks give loans with a grace period, so that you have time to get a job without the stress of an additional EMI. However, if you do get a job within this time, you can start paying off your loans. Also take stock of any other loans that your parents might have taken for you. Paying them off should be your first priority, because loans accumulate interest, and the more you delay payments, the greater the interest that you'll be forced to pay.
Get health insurance
Getting yourself, and your family health insurance should be second on your list. Disease might strike any time, and the cost of hospitalisation today is bound to increase the stress of an already traumatic experience. There are a number of health insurance policies today that cover both individual and family, so look through brochures and talk to agents to get the best policy that suits your needs. Don't forget to inform HR, as well—health insurance premiums are tax deductible under section 80D
Set aside a portion of your salary every month, to invest, either in a Mutual Fund SIP or in a recurring deposit. It could be for a vehicle, or a house, or a trip, or a wedding. Think about the timeline that you have for your goals. Is it short term (in the next few years), or is it long term (greater than 10 years)? The longer the time that you have, the greater the risk that you can take, and vice versa. Research investments accordingly and start investing. Most investments today offer the option of automatic transfer at the beginning of the month, to coincide with your salary getting credited. If you opt for this system, your savings get taken care of as soon as your salary is credited.
Understand your money flow and make a budget
The salary that gets credited to your bank account isn't going to be the figure that you saw in your offer letter. It will be much less, given that there will be tax cuts and so on. You need to understand exactly how much you will be getting credited in your bank account, and work backwards. How much of your salary will your EMIs take? How much do you want to save? What are the expenses that you see in the future? Having a realistic picture of your salary will help you save and spend more efficiently, and prevent situations where you can't go out because you have nothing in your bank account.
Think about yourself
Many women in India work not merely to put their education to use, but to support their families—ageing parents, young siblings, a family in debt. While it is important to ensure that your family is settled, you need to think about yourself as well. There have been too many stories about women who spent their lives working and helping their siblings 'settle' only to realise at the age of 50 that they don't have a life for themselves. There have also been countless instances of bright young women who have been forced to cut their careers short because of familial pressure to either get married, or drop the job after having a baby. Think about yourself, and your goals and see how you can fit in your other obligations best around it. There is nothing selfish in thinking about your own future, and there is nothing noble about sacrificing your own happiness for the sake of others'.