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Getting your first paycheck can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. You find yourself wanting to spend it on the things you’ve been eyeing in the store for months, but you know that you have other priorities. So where do you draw the line? We’ve compiled a list of things you should consider as you plan out how to spend your paycheck.

Cover the Basic Necessities

As tempting as it might be to spend that first paycheck on what you want, it’s crucial that you take care of necessities such as paying off bills, covering groceries, and monthly car payments. In order to stay ahead on your bills, you have to pay attention to the due dates. We recommend either using a calendar to monitor those dates or setting up automatic withdrawals so that you can have some piece of mind.

What’s important here is that you’re developing your payment history. Similar to your credit history, your payment history will vouch that you’re reliable when it comes to paying your bills. This could help with getting deals and special sales down the line.

Pay Your Loans

If you want to set yourself up for long-term financial success, it’s important that you pay off your loans as soon as you can. Whether it’s student loans or a personal loan, you need to make at least the minimum payment each month in order to keep yourself out of debt. Paying these loans each month will also help you build a foundation for your credit history.

If you’re currently struggling to make your minimum payments, we recommend refinancing your loans. This process will reduce your interest rates along with the minimum monthly payment and as such could make things more manageable for you.

Save for Emergencies

Part of being financially stable is making sure you are prepared in the case of an emergency. Unfortunately, we can’t plan for everything—that’s why it’s important that you establish an emergency fund. To make things easier for you, you might want to look into opening a separate, high-yield savings account. Having a separate account from your checking will make it easier to not over spend. Plus, a high-yield account will give you better interest rates as you continue to save.

Contribute to Retirement

Though it may be years away, it’s important to begin saving for retirement so your money has time to grow. With each year that passes, you could lose out on precious opportunities to save for your life after retirement. As you bring home your first few paychecks, be sure to calculate how much you can afford to contribute. Even if you have to start small, every dollar counts.

As a helpful step, you can set up automatic deposits into your 401(k). This way you’re saving automatically with each paycheck; you don’t need to worry about setting it aside in your budget. You can also check to see if your employer offers a percentage match of what you contribute. This is an additional contribution to help you grow your nest-egg in the long run.

Spend a Little on Yourself

After all is said and done, you can reward yourself for all of your hard work. Whether it’s a fancy dinner or a new outfit, using some of your paycheck to treat yourself is crucial to maintaining a happy professional life. However, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to spend all of the money you have left over right away. You can always put the rest towards saving for a vacation or a larger investment.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.