You’ve done the hard yards, nailed the interviews, and finally landed a new job. To help you tackle those first few weeks, here’s a quick list of things you need to know to be work and finance-ready.

Set up a bank account

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 if you haven’t already provided this information.

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.

Understanding your pay slip

You’ll usually get a pay slip from your employer every time your wages are paid, which shows the amount you’ve been paid, and any contributions or deductions.

If you’re working on a continuing basis, and aren’t a casual employee, you may earn different types of leave:

  • Sick and carer’s leave: This covers you if you, or some in your family is ill, and you need to take time off.
  • Annual leave: You can apply for annual leave if you want time for a holiday or break.
  • Compassionate and bereavement leave: If someone close to you dies or you need to attend a funeral, you can apply for compassionate leave.
  • Community service leave: If you need to attend jury duty you can use this type of community leave.
  • Public holiday: If a public holiday falls on a day you would usually work, you could get paid for the public holiday. If you work the public holiday, you may be paid at a higher rate – just check your contract. If you want to calculate your leave, check out the Fair Work Commission (FWC) website. You’ll be able to see your current leave balance by checking out your payslip or chatting to HR.
What your payslip includes:
  • Your name, address and tax file number
  • Your employers name and ABN
  • Your gross income (the amount paid before tax)
  • Your net income (the amount after tax and what you receive in your bank account)
  • Income tax amount
  • Your super contribution
  • Any sick or leave balances earned
  • Any sick or leave balances taken

There’s a lot of different information on your payslip and it’s important to check that it’s all correct, since it’s money you’ve worked hard for!

Tax time

If any taxes are deducted from your pay, or you earnt more than $18,200 in a financial year (1 July – 30 June the following year), you’ll need to submit a tax return. Check out the ATO website for more information about tax and how to lodge a return. If you want to know how much tax you’ll be paying each week, check out the RACQ income tax calculator.

Tax time is also a good reminder it’s time to complete a new budget and set new financial goals. It’s a good idea to check your finances and speak to a professional if you need a little extra help or guidance.

Paying off a student loan or HECS-HELP debt

Like many young Aussies, if you’re undertaking tertiary studies at university 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.

Superannuation

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.

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. You can easily set one up when you open a regular everyday transaction account, which will give you access to your money through a debit card or over internet and mobile banking.

Transaction accounts are for everyday spending, while savings accounts give a higher interest rate. The bank will pay you a regular interest amount based on how much you have in your savings account. A great low-risk way to use your savings to earn more.

Your transaction and savings accounts don’t have to be with the same bank, so you can shop around for a good rate, which will make it even 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.

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