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It's Your Money  

Financial planning for early career professionals

Tips for starting a career

Early-career professionals often find themselves in a challenging financial position.

With student loans, entry-level salaries, and limited work experience, it can be daunting to start planning for a secure financial future. However, taking the right steps early on can pave the way for financial success in the long run. So, let’s explore key financial planning strategies for early-career professionals to help them make the most of their resources and set the stage for a prosperous future.

Some of the basics that they should consider such as creating a budget (and sticking to it), tackling high-interest debt first and building an emergency fund will typically apply to everyone and not just those early in their careers so while very important tips, I’ve written about those ideas many times and won’t repeat them here.

Instead, I wanted to focus on a few other tips that are specific to this demographic:

1. Start saving for retirement—While retirement may seem distant and cash flow may seem tight, the earlier you start saving, the more time your investments have to grow. Take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as a matched pension plan or RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan). Contribute enough to get the maximum employer match, as it's essentially free money. Additionally, consider opening a TFSA (Tax-Free Savings Account) to supplement your retirement savings.

2. Set clear financial goals—Define your short-term and long-term financial goals. Short-term goals may include paying off a student loan, saving for a vacation, or building an emergency fund. Long-term goals might involve buying a home, starting a family, or retiring comfortably. Having clear objectives will help you stay focused and motivated to save and invest wisely.

3. Invest wisely—As an early-career professional, you may not have a lot of money to invest, but getting started early is crucial. Consider low-cost index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that offer diversification and typically have lower fees compared to actively managed funds. Automate your contributions to take advantage of dollar-cost averaging and ensure consistent investing. And while you’d hate to see any losses with your hard-earned money, if it is set aside for long term goals you can’t afford to be too conservative.

4. Continue learning and networking—Investing in your education and professional network can pay significant dividends over time. Seek opportunities for professional development and networking within your industry. Expanding your skill set and connections can lead to career advancement and higher earning potential in the future.

5. Minimize lifestyle inflation— As your income grows, avoid the temptation to inflate your lifestyle proportionally. Instead, allocate additional income to savings and investments. Continually assess your budget and be mindful of unnecessary expenses that can creep in with a higher income.

6. Consider additional income streams—Explore opportunities for additional income streams, such as freelance work, part-time jobs, or side gigs. Earning extra money can accelerate your debt repayment, boost your savings, and provide financial security.

7. Review and adjust your plan regularly— Financial planning is not a one-time activity. It’s an ongoing process. Regularly review your budget, investments, and financial goals. Adjust your plan as needed to accommodate changes in your life, career, or financial situation.

Early-career professionals may face financial challenges, but with careful planning and disciplined execution, they can set themselves up for a bright financial future.

By taking these steps, you can navigate the early stages of your career with confidence and build a strong financial foundation for the years ahead.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

Brett Millard is vice-president and a member of the executive leadership team at FP Canada, the national professional body for the financial planning industry. A not-for-profit organization, FP Canada works in the public interest to foster better financial health for all Canadians by leading the advancement of professional financial planning in Canada. 

He has worked in the financial advice industry for more than 15 years and is designated as a chartered investment manager (CIM) and is a certified financial planner (CFP).

He has written a weekly financial planning column since 2012 and provides his readers with easy to understand explanations of the complex financial challenges they face in every stage of life. Enhancing the financial literacy of Canadian consumers is a top priority for Brett and his ongoing efforts as a finance writer focus on that initiative. 

Please let Brett know if you have any topics you’d like him to cover in future columns ,or if you’d like a referral to a qualified CFP professional in your area, by emailing him at [email protected].

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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