Congrats! You’ve done the hard yards, nailed the interviews, and finally landed your first job. To help you tackle those first few days, here’s a quick list of things you need to know to be work and finance-ready.
1. Bank accounts
Chances are your employer has dropped a stack of paperwork on your desk. Don’t be put off – these are just the documents related to your bank details, tax file number, and superannuation. If you want to get paid (we assume you do!), you’ll need to fill these out.
Generally, your employer will pay your wage directly into your chosen bank account. While you might have a couple of accounts on the go, it’s best to provide the details of your transaction account. You’ll need to have your BSB and account number handy for this.
So that you don’t lose a big chunk of your wages to the Australian Taxation Office, make sure you complete the tax file number (TFN) declaration. Don’t have a TFN? You can easily apply on the ATO website.
2. Understanding your pay slip
You’ll usually get a pay slip every time your wages are paid. There’s a lot of information to look at so it’s important to understand the basics. To break it down, your pay slip will include:
- Gross income (the amount paid before tax)
- Net income (the amount you receive in your bank account)
- Income tax amount
- Super contribution
- Sick leave and annual leave balance (if you’re working on a continuing basis)
Your name, address and tax file number will also be included, as will your employer’s name and ABN (Australian Business Number). If you find that any of these details are incorrect let your manager or HR know straight away.
3. Paying off a student loan or HECS-HELP debt
Like many young Aussies, if you’re undertaking tertiary studies at uni or TAFE, it’s likely you’ve used a HECS-HELP loan to pay for it. Confused by the acronym? You’re not alone. HECS stands for Higher Education Contribution Scheme, and is what the loan used to be called. It’s now called the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP). Basically, you’ll have to start making compulsory repayments when your income exceeds the minimum repayment threshold.
These repayments are made through the tax system, so you’ll need to tell your employer about your debt so they can make the proper deductions. Thresholds for HECS-HELP and other student loans change each year, and you can find all the information you need on the ATO website.
Let’s say you’re over 18 and earning over $450 per month. By law, your employer must pay money into your superannuation fund (i.e. your retirement savings). When you get your first pay slip, check out the government’s employer contributions calculator to make sure you’re receiving the right amount.
Because this is your first job, your employer will likely provide you with a default fund to join. While this can be the easiest option, you can always shop around and choose a fund yourself. If you do, just make sure you have all the details on hand.
5. Learning to save
Now that you’re making a living, it can be tempting to splash out. While there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, it’s also important to make the most of your money. So, when your wages come through, consider putting a portion aside in a savings account. With a good rate, you’ll find it easier to save up for those big purchases or create a safety net. To keep your bank balance looking healthy, try setting a budget that not only covers your expenses, but also shows how much you can stash away.
Banking and loan products issued by Members Banking Group Limited ABN 83 087 651 054 AFSL/Australian credit licence 241195 trading as RACQ Bank. Fees, charges, terms and conditions apply. Contact us for a copy. This is general advice only and may not be right for you.