You know what’s really strange? Almost every job I’ve ever had started in the summer. And I’ve had a lot of jobs in my lifetime already. How many you ask? Well, in the past 10 or so years, I’ve held 12 different jobs.
Now, before you discount me as another job-hopping millennial, to be completely fair many of those jobs were short contracts or the companies themselves went kaput.
Nonetheless, I learned a number of helpful financial lessons from each of these jobs that I now want to pass onto you for when you start your next new gig.
- Dive Deep into Your Benefits Package
I may be the only person in the world who does this, but I’ve got a really good reason for it. As soon as I sign on the dotted line for a new job, I grab my benefits booklet and start making notes
What many employees don’t realize is that this benefits booklet can include hundreds if not thousands of dollars in savings. The sad thing is, when people don’t take advantage of these benefits, it’s like they are leaving free money on the table.
For instance, you’d be surprised by how many medical expenses may be fully or partially covered, such as eye exams, new glasses, teeth night guards and massages.
So, to make sure you take full advantage of these benefits, start making appointments as soon as you can (which may not be until after your probationary period). This isn’t a bad idea too if you’re thinking of leaving your current job for another one. Just sayin’.
- Participate in Your Employer’s RRSP Matching Program
Another benefit of working for a company is some of them offer RRSP matching programs. Again, this is basically free money for the taking, so make sure to take it!
Here’s an example of a RRSP matching program. You’re allowed to contribute 2% of your pay cheque, and your employer matches your contribution dollar for dollar. Then, your employer invests that money into a company investment portfolio, and you just have to sit back and let that money grow automatically.
This was what my last job’s RRSP matching program looked like, and after contributing to it for almost 3 years, when I decided to leave I walked away with an extra $3,000 in my pocket thanks to my employer’s contributions. Not a bad parting gift.
- Take Part in Your Employer’s Elective Savings Program
On top of participating in your employer’s RRSP matching program, you can also see if your company offers an elective savings program. An elective savings program is a way to help you save money without you having to do anything. What’s involved is your employer takes a portion of your pay cheque, puts it into a savings account for you and your money would grow without you having to lift a finger. Not all employers offer this program, so make sure to check with your human resources department to see if it’s an option.
- Update Your Budget to Reflect Your New Income
After seeing how your employer can boost your financial situation, it’s time for you to review and update your budget. This is essential whenever your income changes, but the key thing to remember is that if your income increases, that shouldn’t mean you now have more money to spend.
When I got my last job, my salary increased by $15,000. I thought I hit the jackpot, and wanted to treat myself by going on a bit of a shopping spree. Then I remembered how hard I worked to get to this point in my career. And then I remembered how broke I was after graduating university. I didn’t live by my budget so I could blow it one day. I wanted it to help me reach my goals and become more financially secure.
So instead of going on a shopping spree, I diverted that additional income into my savings buckets and investments. Yes, it wasn’t as thrilling as buying a designer bag or a new smart phone, but now that I can see how much my savings and investments have grown over the years, I’m quite content with my decision.
- Figure Out a Route to Work that Won’t Hurt Your Wallet
For most of my jobs, I’ve been lucky. They were located in areas where it wasn’t easy to spend my pay cheque during my lunch break. Unfortunately, my last job was literally on top of a mall with everything you could ever want.
The temptations for spending on my way to and from work were everywhere, and I knew that to avoid wasting every dollar I was earning, there was only one thing I could do — figure out a better route to work. I tried a number of different routes, and after much trial and error I eventually found one that had little to no temptations along my way. If this sounds familiar, make sure to do the same the first week of your new job. Even if it adds a few minutes onto your commute, it will eventually become a habit and your bank account will thank you tenfold.