Managing money can be scary, frustrating, and so mysterious; one day you have money in your account and the next day it’s gone. See! A mystery right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Educated Latina is excited to collaborate with:
“A company focused on understanding personal finances, getting out of debt, and building a strong financial future for young Latinx. Through its online community and in-person support, Dinero Diaries seeks to create an open dialogue about personal finances specific to Latinx communities.“
In this three-part series, Co-Founders Camila Antonia and Laura who will be solving the mystery of our missing money by helping us understand personal finance through practical tips sprinkled with their personal experiences.
We all wish we could go back in time to fix that one (or more) mistakes we’ve made in our past. In this first article, Camila Antonia shares a few financial tips she would tell her younger self. Check it out below.
At 22, I graduated from college and started my first job in a new city. Looking back on my first year, it was a year of growing and learning. Financially though, I made lots of mistakes in that first year out of college. I’m sharing this post as a reminder to myself for mistakes I will not make again. What advice would you give your 22-year old self?
I remember getting a call with my first job offer. I was so excited to hear that I would get a regular paycheck and that I would have the chance to move to a new city! I immediately accepted the job offer, just excited that they would give me, a recent college graduate, a chance. Out of sheer gratitude for this opportunity, out of desperation for a job, I did not negotiate for more money. I accepted the offer immediately.
Now, I realize that I absolutely could have gotten more money. Similar positions were probably making at least a few thousand dollars more than my starting salary. Perhaps, even if not more money, I could have gotten relocation assistance (moving money) to pay for the cost of relocating to a new city. But I didn’t ask.
Resolution: always ask for at least 10% more than what they offer you. Or even more. Maybe 20% more. Te lo mereces and don’t doubt that. Come prepared to negotiate. They would be lucky to have you.
The only raises that I got at my first job were the annual cost of living increases. Despite my roles and responsibilities growing every day, despite my hard work ethic, despite my professionalism… it never occurred to me that I should negotiate for more money. Again, I did not think that I deserved more than what they were paying me because I was a recent college graduate and I still couldn’t really believe that I was getting paid a decent salary. Looking back on it now, I could have been in a much better place financially if I had negotiated for a higher salary during my employment. (Also, I later learned that negotiating for more money can set you up for a higher salary in the future since many employers use your previous salary as a base to determine your new salary).
Resolution: you are your best advocate. Look for ways that your responsibilities go above and beyond your job description and use that as a way to ask for more money. Or do some research and see what others are making in a similar position. Remember, you’re worth it. They are lucky to have you.
Enough said. Refer to previous posts about workplace retirement plans. Starting early is what counts!
I remember choosing my health insurance plan at my first job as a fresh college graduate. I chose the plan the cheapest monthly payment because I did not know any better. I did not understand that by choosing the lower cost healthcare plan (the one with the highest deductible*), I was setting myself up to pay lots of healthcare costs out of pocket.
At my first appointment with my new insurance, I went in for a stomach ache and had lots of tests run (I knew that most were unnecessary, but the provider just threw them in for good measure- I said sure, why not!). I had no idea that I would have to pay for these costs out of pocket since I had not yet met my plan’s deductible. Weeks after my appointment, I received a bill that was a few hundred dollars or so. Not only did I not have emergency savings account to pay for these unexpected costs, but I also just did not understand how health insurance works. I was furious. I called and complained, but of course, these charges were legitimate. I had to meet my deductible before my health insurance kicked in.
Had I understood how health insurance premiums** and deductibles work, I would have been more prepared, probably chosen a plan with a higher premium and lower deductible, and at the very least rejected any unnecessary treatment that the provider threw in “just because.”
Healthcare costs are real and can add up. Sometimes they can even come unexpectedly. Understand your benefits. Call your health insurance company to explain the plan if you have any questions. And choose your insurance plan carefully (if this is an option).
*Deductible: The amount of money you pay out of pocket for health expenses before your insurance kicks in. (And when it does kick in you may still have to pay a certain percentage of the cost. Ask all of the questions when you sign up!)
**Premiums: The regular fee that you pay for having an insurance plan. It’s usually paid monthly.
I don’t think that the whole treat yoself phenomenon was going on when I first got my job, but I definitely was guilty of treating myself a little too much my first year in my first job. As someone who had basically never known what having extra spending money was growing up or through college, I just could not believe that I could afford a lot of things in my life now that used to be just a dream. The first apartment that I got with my first job was to this day, the nicest apartment I have lived in. It was gorgeous, new, with an amazing shiny kitchen and balcony. It was perfect- but it cost me 60% of my overall paycheck. And the rest of the money was not exactly going into savings.
I did not even have a budget the first year of my job, and when I moved out of that dream apartment, guess how much money I had in savings? $0. Yup. I had lived paycheck to paycheck for a full year. I didn’t even have any credit card debt or car payments at the time, so in retrospect, I could have saved or invested a lot of money. I just did not know how to handle more money and financial freedom than I had ever had in my life.
Celebrate your success. You did earn it! But be realistic. Set a budget and stick to it. And if you want a fancy apartment, get roommates! If you want to live alone, get a humble studio!
If you could go back, what are some tips you’d tell yourself about your money?
Camila Antonia has a Master’s degree in Public Health with over 4 years of health program implementation and improvement work. Camila Antonia applies her holistic understanding of health and wellness by creating content for Latinx communities to engage in conversations about personal finances. Camila Antonia began her Dinero journey after realizing how much credit card interest she had paid in one year alone. Despite having a decent salary at the time, she realized that she had slowly accumulated lots of debt in her post-college years. Since then, Camila has decided to take steps to not only improve her personal financial journey but to also share what she learns along the way as a co-founder of DineroDiaires, LLC.
In her free time, Camila enjoys salsa dancing, working out, traveling, and spending time with her partner and family.
Come back on May 10th for the next article in this series, when Camila Antonia gives you tips on how to create a budget. You don’t want to miss it!