A new job isn’t just a fresh professional start; it’s an opportunity to get on the right financial footing. In fact, there are plenty of ways to leverage a job change to make your money work even harder — regardless of what you earn when you change jobs.
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1. Punch your numbers into the tax calculator.
Your employer will ask that you complete a Form W-4 so they know how much federal income tax to withhold from your paycheck. Use the IRS’ tax withholding calculator to see how many allowances to claim. (Ideally, you don’t want to contribute too much — or too little — to federal taxes across the year).
2. Sign up for direct deposit when you change jobs.
More than 80% of employees are now paid by direct deposit, according to a study conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research. Further, 72% of study respondents said direct deposit helps them better control their finances and 73% said it helps them pay bills on time.
3. Establish an account to pay yourself.
If you haven’t yet, when you change jobs it can be a reminder to finally get in the habit of paying yourself first. Start with a goal of building an emergency savings fund. Once you have that in place, work toward similar savings goals. Your employer may give you the option to direct a percentage of your direct deposit into separate accounts. (When possible, NerdWallet recommends saving at least 15% of your paycheck). Make your saving automatic, and you’re less likely to spend what you could afford to save.
4. Designate retirement contributions.
If your employer offers to “match” your retirement contributions, try to contribute at least up to the match percentage (it’s akin to free money). CNN Money says the typical rule of thumb is to contribute at least 10% of your income to retirement starting in your 20’s.
Struggling to part with money you need now for funds you won’t use well into the future? Remember that pretax retirement contributions may lower your taxable income (which could mean you have to pay less income tax). Plus, the earlier and more consistently you put money into your retirement savings account, the more time it has to grow until you’re ready to retire.
5. Roll your old 401(k) over into a traditional IRA.
A new job signifies a fresh start, but until you initiate a direct rollover of your old 401(k) with a retirement plan provider of your choice, you may have to work with your old employer to access your vested retirement funds, or to make changes to investments you have in the plan.
Many retirement plan providers walk customers through the process of how to complete a direct rollover of their 401(k) into an IRA account so they won’t be penalized or taxed for moving the funds, according to NerdWallet. When you have easy access to your retirement accounts, it’s easier to stay on top of your retirement savings goals.
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6. Look for ways to maximize your money.
Does your new job offer you the opportunity to contribute pretax dollars to plans that offset medical or dependent child care costs? Perhaps it pays wellness incentives toward your membership at a local gym, for your participation in 10,000 steps a day programs, or has special group rates on insurance policies, mobile phone plans or even discounted legal services.
Research all the benefits your new job has to offer; take advantage of any that could stretch those hard-earned dollars in your paycheck further.
7. Set annual goals.
Changing jobs often means a new anniversary that’s likely to stick in your head (and on your resume) for some time. Use this mental milestone to set annual goals: Whether it’s to increase retirement savings, be more consistent in your investment strategy, pay off debt or save for a major purchase, identify where you want to be each year you celebrate your annual job anniversary.
If you’re awarded a merit increase, bonus or cost of living increase at that time, direct it to your savings or other identified budget item: You’ll never miss the money — yet it will instantly start working to get you that much closer to your financial goals.
Following these steps can help set you up for success as you change jobs and get your personal finances in order.