This week we’re kicking off our “Senior Series” posts which will be taking place on Mondays from now until (gulp!) commencement!

We have a bunch of useful and fun advice for you soon to be alumni on topics ranging from money management to maintaining a strong network. To kick things off let’s talk about BUDGETING. (Yes, Career Services knows about this stuff too!)

So, you got your first paycheck. AWESOME. You are getting PAID for your hard work and expertise. But here’s the thing: while we want to make sure you’re paid what you’re worth, don’t let a penny go to waste! Below is a sample layout of what your expenses will be for both saving, living, and yes, enjoying your post-grad life. Questions? Give us a holler at!

Want more on money advice, check out our workshops this week for Adulting Week!

Be Real with Your Professional Paycheck

Be real with your professional paycheck! Your first professional job means your first real paycheck. Your first thought might be, What a big monthly income!

But is it really? Here’s a breakdown so you understand how much it costs to live outside the college cocoon…

Let’s say you’re given an offer of $40,000.

Your monthly take home, after federal and state taxes, is approximately $2600

Essential monthly expenses:

  • Rent: $800 with roommates and outside the city
  • Utilities/Heat: $25
  • WiFi: $30
  • Phone: $50
  • Food/health needs/ cleaning supplies: $200 (cooking most meals at home)
  • Health Insurance: $50
  • Transportation: $85 (T Pass)-$250 (car loan/insurance/gas/maintenance)
  • Clothing: $100 for the practical; $100’s for the fashionistas
  • Gym membership: $30
  • College loan: $50
  • Savings/rainy day fund: $100

Total: $1650-2000 monthly

Social life:

  • Coffee, 5 days a week: $50
  • Lunch, 2 days a week: $100
  • Dinner with friends, 1 night a week: $140
  • Movies/sporting events/comedy club, once a month: $50-150
  • Mani/pedi once a week: $125
  • Bars with friends, once a week: $50

Total: $515-615 monthly

Considering a pet?

  • Shelter donation/cost of specialty breed: $200-$1500
  • Food: $80/month
  • Vet annual costs, shots, exam, healthy pet: $200
  • Kennel for the random weekend away: $35/day

Total: $130 monthly

So here is the math for the lowest expenses monthly:

$2600 monthly income after taxes – $1650 for necessary costs = $950

$1050 – $645 (a social life and a pet) = $305

If you are frugal, you will have $300 a month that is not already claimed each month…or to start a vacation fund!

Important note: This is just a sample. We know that paychecks will vary depending on industry, company, the type of work you have etc. Regardless it’s important you remember that Emerson is here for you as you handle money matters. Speaking of which, check out the ACTUAL Money Matters right here.

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