5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Salary in Your First Full-time Job

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For recent college grads, getting their first full-time job that’s salaried is a drastic difference from their experience with working part-time jobs and making it through school. When you get your first serious paycheck, it’s a great feeling. It can also be incredibly tempting to go out and spend it on something to celebrate. While it’s perfectly fine to splurge on occasion, your first full-time job is the time to get serious about how you handle your money. Here are some tips for making the most of your first salaried job.

Negotiate your salary

The first step you must take in your first salaried job is negotiating that salary. Generally, companies can offer you more than they initially say, especially if you prove yourself. Many people simply do not ask for a higher salary and miss out on the change to negotiate for more money. Even if it’s a slight increase of a couple thousand, it makes a difference and increases your earning potential later on.

Create a budget

Even if you don’t have that many expenses, it helps to make a budget. Making a couple of thousand a month might initially seem like a lot, but if you aren’t careful, you’ll overestimate how far that money will go. Keep track of how you spend it and calculate any monthly payments before you allocate money elsewhere. When making a budget, account for your most important expenses first and then see how much you have leftover.

Start saving

No matter how much you’re making each month, it’s important to set some aside to save for future expenses. If you’re living on your own, it’s vital that you have an emergency fund that can last you for a few months. Set aside some money from each paycheck and then avoid touching that money unless a large, unexpected payment, such as car repairs, would occur.

Pay off debt

Saving money and paying off debt may seem like they can’t be done at the same time, but they can. Save up your emergency fund while making minimum payments and then begin aggressively paying down debt. If you have student loans, car payments, or credit card debt, put extra money toward the debt with the highest interest rate and pay it off as soon as possible. In the end, you’re saving yourself money.

Look toward retirement

Far too many people look at retirement as something way in the future that they do not need to worry about right now. Even if you’re only putting $100 away each month, put what you can toward retirement. The sooner you start saving, the more time that money has to create interest and increase in value. Take advantage of your company match and even consider opening up a Roth IRA in addition to a company account. If your company doesn’t offer retirement benefits, open up your own account as soon as possible.

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5 Benefits of Walking to Maintain Fitness

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Many people believe in order to lose weight and improve their fitness level, it requires intensive exercise and hours spent working out each day. While this method can seriously help you improve your fitness level, you do not have to jump into obsessively heading to the gym. For lots of people, intense exercise might not be the best for them, depending on specific health issues or lifestyle types. Instead, you can work on improving your health and fitness simply by spending more time walking. Walking is a natural movement and the CDC recommends we’re active for at least 60 minutes each day. Unfortunately, most people come nowhere near this number. Here are some of the many benefits you can get from simply walking that’ll hopefully motivate you to get outside and move more!

It aids weight loss

A lot of people want to get more active in order to lose a certain amount of weight. However, it can be challenging to go from inactivity to working out regularly. A great way to start your fitness journey is through walking; it’s more relaxed and doesn’t feel like work, but you’ll see results. Even walking 30 minutes a day can help get you in better shape, but it’s important to remember that you might also need to make dietary changes to see the results you want.

You’ll boost your mood

Spending time outside and general exercise does a fantastic job of making you feel better. Studies have shown that physical exercise lowers levels of stress and helps improve your outlook on life. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or bogged down at work, take a short break and walk outside for a few minutes.

It increases creativity

In addition to boosting your mood, regular walking helps with your creativity. Whether you’re working on a personal project or are stuck at work, finding new ways to think about an issue or view something you’re working on is incredibly beneficial. We all know what it feels like when you hit a dead end and think you simply cannot come up with more innovative ideas; when you get there, go ahead and take a walk.

It’s easy on your joints

If you’re older or have health issues, starting vigorous exercise can be too much. As you age, your joints aren’t as adequate at handling hard impacts as they once were. Luckily, walking is much less stressful on your joints, but still gets you great health benefits.

It improves your health

While all of the points above have been about specific ways you improve your health with walking, it also improves your overall health. You’ll reduce your risk of chronic disease and realize you just feel better as you walk more. Walking is great for someone at any age or stage in life and have innumerable benefits to your health.

More Ways to Stay Active When Working a Desk Job

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When you’re sitting for the majority of the day, staring at a computer screen, it can take a toll on your physical health. Many employees working in a traditional office find themselves battling weight gain, back pain, and general physical and mental health concerns. Most people realize the importance of getting enough daily exercise, but few follow up and actually do it. It can be exhausting trying to find time to workout and incorporate fitness into your normal routine, but the results are certainly worth it. I previously wrote about some ways you can stay fit while working a desk job, but here are a few more you can utilize in order to get moving.

Take advantage of company fitness benefits

Many companies, especially larger ones, offer employees incentives to participate in fitness programs. You may have lower health insurance, get gift cards or a bonus, or something else. Companies know that if you stay healthy, they benefit, so they encourage employee fitness. If your company is willing to reward you for looking after your health, it’s a win-win situation.

Start a fitness group with coworkers

Even if your company doesn’t have an official fitness program, you can still get fit with your coworkers. Find some people at work who would want to get gym memberships together, form a soccer team for after work, or do outdoor activities, like hiking. There are sure to be other people in your office who want to improve their health and you’ll have someone else motivating you to stay active.

Take a daily walk outside of your office

If you work in a city, there’s sure to be plenty of places to walk. If you work near a park, take advantage of it! Even if you’re just walking around the city sidewalks, you’ll be active and can get some fresh air. You’ll gain great health benefits and feel refreshed when you return to your desk.

Set reminders to move around

It can be easy to lose track of time and then realize you’ve spent a few hours hunched over your desk focusing on your computer. However, it’s important to spend time every hour moving and looking away from your screen. Set reminders on your computer or phone to let you know when it’s time to take a break and move around. Fitness trackers can be especially helpful for this goal because many of them vibrate every hour to remind you to take a certain amount of steps.

Find some exercises you can do at your desk

There are lots of simple exercises you can do at your desk that’ll help you. Many of them are small and likely wouldn’t be noticed by other people. The first step toward becoming more active is incorporating small changes into your daily routines that add up to a big impact. Even taking shorts breaks throughout the day to do a couple of exercises or even just stand up can be beneficial.

Make fitness an activity you enjoy

In your mind, fitness might mean cardio and spending long hours at the gym. This picture doesn’t have to be what your version of fitness is. You can stay active by taking walks, going hiking, or playing informal sports. There are plenty of great hobbies that involve physical activity and can be enjoyable.

4 Tips to Help Millennials Save for Their First Home

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There seems to be a prevalent mindset that millennials will never be able to afford a house. While the housing market is inflated in some areas, for most of the country, there are certainly affordable properties. This misconception is certainly not current for many young adults who are working full-time, even if they have significant student loan debt. There are a few steps millennials can take to save for their first home, even if that purchase is ten years down the road. Here are steps you can start taking today to help get you ready to purchase a home.

Boost your credit score

While this tip isn’t directly related to saving up money, it’s a vital one when it comes to purchasing your first home. When you apply for a loan for your mortgage, a big factor for the interest rate and whether or not you’ll get approved is based off of your credit score. If you do not have a great credit score now, you can fix this issue by opening up a credit card and lightly using it; make sure you pay off the balance each month and avoid late payments. Over time, your credit history will improve as you use more of it. Regularly check your credit score as well to make sure there’s no false information or that someone is opening accounts in your name.

Save up a down payment

The best way to make owning a home feasible and less stressful is by saving up an adequate down payment. The rule of thumb is to have 20 percent of the home’s value as your down payment, though many people do not follow this number. You can get approved for a home if you have less than a 20 percent down payment and there are programs out there to help make up the difference and navigate buying your first home, but it’s still best to put as much money down initially as possible.

Do your research

There are major costs associated with buying a home, but you can mitigate some of these costs if you do sufficient research. Make sure you are only buying a house you can actually afford; people often get approved for mortgages that severely strain their budgets. Also shop around for real estate agents and learn what costs you can cut back on and how to get the best deal as you search for your home.

Set regular goals

Buying a home might seem far off, but saving up a down payment takes time. Set goals for yourself to achieve over the next few years. Even putting away $20 a week adds up! You can also schedule automatic withdrawals from your account to go to a separate account for your down payment. You won’t notice the money’s gone and you’ll save up a decent down payment for when you start shopping for a home.

5 Spring Activities to Get Moving

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Now that spring is fast approaching, it’s the perfect opportunity to spend more time outside and get active! If you’ve been working out this winter, you might be tired of staying inside and seeing the same facilities day in and day out. If your workout routine feels stale, it’s the perfect time to get outside and do some new activities. You could simply take your workout outside and start running, which is great if you enjoy that, but many people want to add variation to what they’re doing. Here are some ways you, and your friends and family, can be active outside throughout the spring.

Hiking

One of the best ways to be active outside is through hiking. Spring is the perfect time to take advantage of this fantastic hobby. No matter where you live, you’ll be able to find hiking trails relatively nearby. You can hike a rigorous or easy course and often see beautiful natural sites. In spring, it’s not too hot, but you’ll be able to see nature blooming. Hiking is perfect for groups and families as well and is free. You can make an entire day or weekend out of your trip or simply go for a few hours.

Gardening

Gardening is another option for spending time outside. It might not seem like you’re moving a lot, but gardening is a fairly active hobby. You’re bending and moving around while working with plants. Even if you don’t enjoy gardening yourself, find a neighbor or family member who needs their garden weeded or could use extra help. You’ll help someone else out and get time outside yourself. It’s also never too late to pick up gardening yourself.

Frisbee

Lots of people enjoy playing disc golf or just casually throwing a frisbee around. You can have a laid back game or one that’s more intense, but it doesn’t require much skill on anyone’s part. Plenty of parks have disc golf courses or you could just find a field with some of your friends. Even if you’ve never played before, disc golf has few rules or you can organize an informal game of ultimate frisbee.

Tennis

Tennis is a great activity for the spring because there are courts in virtually any park and you only need one other person. If you have the supplies or know someone who does, spend an afternoon playing tennis and brushing up on your technique. It’s also something you can do throughout your life.

Fundraising

You can organize a fundraising event yourself for an organization you care about or find a local run/walk. Spring is a season where many philanthropies begin organizing 5k runs to raise money for their individual causes. These 5ks often have the option to walk them, so you do not have to enjoy running to participate. You’ll help out other people and also get active outside if you participate in one of these fundraising events!

5 Ways to Teach Children About Financial Literacy

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In my recent blog post, I highlighted the importance of teaching students financial literacy. Schools should focus on these goals, but it’s also important for parents to educate their children at home. Maybe you don’t have extensive financial knowledge, but it’s never too late to learn yourself and even teaching children the basics is beneficial. The sooner you start talking to children about financial literacy, the sooner they’ll experience the benefits.

Teach them the basics

For young children, it can be sufficient to cover the basics. Talk to them about saving and the importance of budgeting. Tell them how to look around for the best deal and discuss debt. As they get older, you can address these topics in more detail, but to start out it’s fine to give a general overview. Another great step to take is opening a bank account for them, even if they’re currently too young to use it. They’ll have some money for the future and it will collect a small amount of interest over time.

Involve them in decisions

While you do not need to involve your children in stressful financial decisions, when you’re working on your monthly budget or paying bills it can be helpful to simply have them watch what you’re doing and explain it to them. Tell them how you pay for bills and why, talk about any debt you might be paying and explain credit cards, loans, and interest rates. If you’re planning a budget, talk to them about monthly expenses, savings, etc. They’ll enjoy being treated like an adult and it’ll help them learn valuable skills.

Discuss your mistakes

This subject can be sensitive for some people, but it can be something as small as talking about a time you made a purchase and regretted it. It’s okay to let your children know you haven’t made perfect financial decisions, but it’s also important for them to learn from mistakes you made. Most children do not know much about their parents’ financial situation, so they can’t learn from good or bad decisions. Simply reinforcing the importance of making informed financial decisions is beneficial.

Give them an allowance

You can give them as little or as much as you want, but it’s vital that you teach them how to handle that money. If they spend their money however they want, your children will find it harder to save and budget once they’re on their own. Encourage them to get a job, give them an allowance, and teach them the value of using a savings account or even investing small amounts of money.

Provide other resources
Unless you work in finance, it’s likely you aren’t an expert on most aspects of finance. Provide your children with resources they can use to learn more about managing finances once you’ve exhausted your knowledge. Encourage them to always improve their financial literacy through reading quality books, following blogs, or attending informational lectures. It’s helpful to get various perspectives on financial management and learn as much as possible.

Why Financial Literacy Should Be Taught in Schools

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Financial literacy is important no matter what point of your life you’re at. However, the younger you begin learning how to manage your finances, the better you’ll be at managing money throughout your life. There are studies that show financial literacy education has a significant impact and affects students far past their school years. Students in high school who take at least one financial literacy class show themselves to be much more financially responsible as they grow older. With far too many Americans shouldering hefty credit card debt and the rise of immense students loans, it’s more important than ever before for people to understand their financial choices.

Better understanding of life choices

Nearly any aspect of life requires some kind of financial knowledge and means. If you want to go to college, buy a house, get married, have kids, etc., you’re going to be spending money. There are options to take out loans for nearly anything, but is that the best option for you? When you’re researching student loans or working on purchasing your first car, understanding basic financial ideas like interest rates, down payments, and financing is vitally important in order to make the best financial decisions. Being financially literate helps you make informed choices on these topics.

Successfully avoid debt

Most people living in the United States have some kind of debt and that number isn’t going down. People eagerly charge credit cards for purchases, slowly paying off the bill over years and spending more than they would have initially thanks to huge interest rates. Taking out loans for college or a mortgage simply adds to this debt. With financial literacy, it makes it much easier for adults to avoid excessive debt and helps educate them on how to strategically pay off any debt they do accumulate.

Find greater happiness

While money cannot buy happiness, concerns over money cause excessive stress. The number one topic couples argue about is money and people who have to live paycheck to paycheck often feel stressed out, wondering if they’ll be able to pay their bills each month. With financial knowledge, it makes becoming financially secure much easier and lowers levels of stress. WIth less stress, you’ll lead a healthier life. You might not have as large a house or as nice a car as other people, but you won’t be using up all of your money paying off debt you didn’t need to have in the first place.

Increase monetary gains

The better educated you are about finances, the more likely you are to have financial security and increase monetary gains over your lifetime. Understanding the basics of investing and the importance of saving for retirement leads to people being more financially stable as they get older. If you understand the importance of making a fair salary, you’re more likely to advocate for a great starting salary and fair pay increases.

Create a secure future

Like I mentioned above, students who are taught financial literacy early in life are more likely to understand the importance of many financial decisions, such as saving for retirement. The younger someone realizes they should be saving up for their future and making wise purchasing decisions, the sooner they’ll start investing and saving. Planning for your future early helps create a secure future that leads to less monetary concerns.