Moving out of college and into the real world can be enough of a transition without the added variables pertinent to migrating. This article provides clues to guide you through the great financial transition by making decisions toward securing a bright financial future.
Prudent spending starts with good planning. You can forecast and budget most of your expenses even before the big move. Here is a breakdown of your major expense heads and what you can do to manage them:
If you have family down under who will accommodate you, this largest of expenses may be avoided altogether. If not, bear in mind that a smaller apartment costs less in rent and utility bills.
Creating a shopping list will save you time, money and space. It is equally important to stick to your list and not splurge the moment something grabs your fancy. Keep a lookout for stores that will offer discounts or cashback. Some stores will generally be cheaper than others.
You can buy clothes from thrift stores and used household items from sites such as Craigslist at surprisingly low prices. Fixing things around the home with a DIY approach can save you significant amounts of money in the long term, in addition to reinforcing self-worth.
Paying off student loans and other debts must take priority. Being debt-free is a prerequisite to move onto other financial goals. Moreover taking care of repayments on time will avoid late fees and build-up your credit score. This is something you will learn to value in Australia. Having a poor credit score can greatly set you back and hurt your job prospects.
As an immigrant you may be tempted to skip health coverage in Australia. A wealth of combined experience from thousands of expats over the years shows that this would be a big mistake. In addition to being a legal requirement adequate health insurance will cover you in emergencies.
Public transport is much preferable to driving in most of Australia. In case you live far out and cannot do without a car, prefer to buy a used one for cash and avoid car payments.
Savings are a recurring expense toward your own future. You owe it to yourself to set a goal for your savings and to meet it. If you plan to live permanently in Australia you can take advantage of the superannuation fund, which is similar to the US 401(k) in some ways. Alternately you can simply have a separate savings account or even send money from Australia to be invested back home. Further updating yourself about the various investment options available to you at this early stage can pay big dividends over the years.
With college in the rear view mirror and professional life underway you are expected to regulate your dose and style of entertainment. Life need not be boring however, as you can choose from a range of cost-effective recreational outlets such as casual sports and board games with friends, weekend picnics and so on. Finding some like minded Australian friends who are in the same boat (early career, low disposable income) can make it a lot of fun. If you must go to bars, movies and restaurants factor those expenses in your budget and set your own limits.
Job and income
If you’re not migrating on a work visa or do not have employment in Australia already you need to find a job soon. Expenses won’t wait for you to find your dream job. A temp or part time job is a good enough start to offset your spending. Such a job does not keep you from floating your CV and seeking greener pastures. Remember that your first job does not define your life, being independent does.
More practical tips
To take full control of your finances you need to track your expenses and income closely. You can largely avoid surprises if you plan your budget and stick to it. Use your credit cards with care. Inflating your lifestyle with unnecessary expenses is unwarranted at this early stage in your career. Landing a well-paying job early on is no certainty that you will always have employment. Earning a little extra money should not be an excuse to be irresponsible, but to save. Having savings in your account will expand your options while having debts will limit them.