The Dos And Don’ts Of Spending Your First Paycheck

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Payday candy bar on top of keyboard

Candy is an inexpensive way to reward your efforts, but Shane suggests living it up a bit more.

It’s not often that the SALT™ Blog advocates spending a little money. We generally preach about keeping the pockets tight.

But we aren’t monsters!

We know how exciting the rush of getting your first paycheck can be; I recently discovered this joy after landing my first full-time post-college job. Of course, I also discovered how easy it can be to go overboard with spending.

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Paycheck money feels different. It’s new. It’s exciting. It signals a big change in your life—whether you landed that first full-time gig like me, received a nice promotion, or secured an internship. You should be happy. You should be proud of yourself. You want to celebrate! And you should … within reason.

Money is money, after all. So, let’s break down some of the dos and don’ts of making sure your celebratory splurge makes sense.

Do: Buy Things You Need, Not Just Things You Want

A huge part of proper spending comes down to the difference between needing and wanting. A lot of wants can be sneakily justified into a need.

“Oh, but I would be able to do more work from home if I bought an iPad!”

This kind of logic is a slippery slope. One minute you’re buying essentials, the next you’ve dropped hundreds on luxury items that you “need.”

With my first paycheck, the separation came easily. With a new job and a new phase in my life, I needed clothes to wear to work. I hunted for great deals at a local outlet mall. I spent a pretty penny, but everything I bought will be a valuable part of my wardrobe for the foreseeable future.

Don’t: Use The First Paycheck To Fund A Huge Purchase

This one is simple. Let that first paycheck of yours collect some friends before you go off to a car dealer or (gulp) real estate agent.

Sure, it is great to have a new source of income, but purchases that big require solid financial footing and plenty of consideration.

Do: Celebrate With One Night Out

Buying new things is an easy way to spend your money. You know what is more fun? Buying a good time. (You’ll appreciate it longer, too.)

You should be happy for yourself, and you should have some fun. And that can mean whatever you want it to: a night on the town, a fancy dinner, concert tickets, a fun activity for you and some friends. Pick a weekend day or night and enjoy yourself. You earned it.

I made sure to do this. It wasn’t like I did anything you’d see in a Rick Ross video, but it sure is fun to just put your finances on the back burner for a night and enjoy yourself.

Don’t: Celebrate With A Vacation

You just found yourself a new job. You only started a couple weeks ago. Now is not the time to spend big bucks on a vacation or start using your vacation days.

Hold off on that until you’ve accumulated some savings and you’re settled in at work.

I know how exciting using that first paycheck is. However, there’s nothing exciting about going back to living like when you were unemployed to make up for a trip to Europe.

How did you celebrate your first professional paycheck? Share your stories in the comments.

(Photo: Matthew Hurst)

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