Financial Planning Tips

Per Scholas is dedicated to connecting our learners with tuition-free tech training that launches them into thriving tech careers.  In doing so, our graduates often make more income than in their previous careers and have new financial opportunities.  One aspect of Per Scholas is that we not only provide tech training to our learners but also have financial coaches to help with financial planning and wealth management.  We tapped into the expertise of our financial planners to obtain their top five tips for financial planning.  

As part of our Learner Support Team, Per Scholas’s financial coaches are available to guide our learners with something as simple as advice on how to save money to ways to budget and take your financial planning to the next level.

  • Consider Your Financial Needs

Financial planning is not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach.  To start budgeting and saving money, you need to consider what is important to you and why.   Brenda Badger, Per Scholas’s Senior Manager, Financial Coach, stated, “the most important thing is to be willing to learn and have an open mindset to adopt new habits, processes, and information learned.”  If you are open to new ideas, think about your financial needs and you will be able to plan out your finances better.  

Financial Planning while counting money.

  • Create emergency savings, then save for anything else

When we spoke with our financial coaches, all of them had the same advice when it came to what percentage of your income to save – there is no percentage, but to first create emergency savings.  Brenda mentioned, “prioritizing emergency savings is a critical part of a sound financial plan.” Once you create emergency savings, you can then make sure your income outweighs your expenses, then save a percentage of your paycheck. We found more money-saving tips from The Penny Hoarder that show how small changes make a big impact on your savings.  

  • Create a budget based on your income and goals

How does one start a budget? What may seem like a big task can actually be exciting!  Here are some best tips from Per Scholas’s financial coaches!

  • Track all of your spending for one week and use that as a starting point for your budget. It’s important to know where your money is going and how to strategize around reducing debt, saving for big purchases, and investing in your retirement.
  • Create a list of all the things you spend money on (bills, fun, transportation) and that amount you think you spend every month. Track your expenses over a month and compare what you think you spend to what you spend. Adjust the amounts so they reflect what is really happening and what you want to happen.
  • Budgeting is also something done before spending, so there is a plan in place and you know your needs are covered, your goals are addressed, and your wants are permitted.
  • Start with your income and include your fixed and variable expenses. Factor in your emergency savings, your future goals, and a miscellaneous category for the unexpected.
  • Make your budget match your paycheck schedule. If paid bi-weekly, your budget should be divided into two groups to coincide with the two paychecks you receive each month.
  • Track your progress and reward yourself when you reach milestones!

Financial planning documents and taking notes.

  •  Make SMART financial goals

You should handle your financial goals as you would any other goals and make sure they are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.  Per Scholas Financial Coach Manager, Janell Pollard gave great insight with a particular goal of buying a car. “I think it is important to set yourself up for success by testing out things before you commit,” she advised. “If you think you can afford a $350 car payment, practice saving that amount for 6 months. If you can do it comfortably, you can probably afford the car payment and you can use the 6 months of savings (350 x 6 = 2,100) as a down payment. If not, you just saved yourself from making a financial decision you probably couldn’t afford.”  What are some of your SMART financial goals?

  • Find a financial planner to map out your wealth management and money goals

A final tip for financial planning is to connect with a financial advisor.  Brenda suggested, “Find a Financial Coach you trust and gel well with. Simply having this type of professional in your corner to inform you, support you, and cheer you on might be the boost your finances have been waiting for!”  Part of this tip is to keep an open mind and be open to new ideas that may be challenging to implement, but worthwhile for your future!

Budgeting your money and financial planning does not have to be a daunting task.  Luckily, our Per Scholas learners have access to financial coaches from our Learner Support Team. “Per Scholas offers a lot of services to help the learners manage their finances,” recalled Ivan Reyes, who graduated this year from Per Scholas Boston’s IT Support course. “I really was able to take advantage of it, and I’m very grateful for it. It’s good to have that extra help, and it lets you focus on what you’re doing. It’s given me the confidence and peace of mind to go out there to find a job that’s really the right fit for me.”  Be sure to keep the conversation going about your financial planning and let us know about your own tips and tricks!  

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