Just started earning? Read this!
Pharmacist Support is the profession’s independent charity. We provide free and confidential support to pharmacists, trainees, and students. We also offer lots of guidance and information in areas we know affect our pharmacy family, including money management. In this article, we’ll help you to understand budgeting and simple ways to make sure you keep control over your finances throughout your foundation training year and beyond.
I’ve just got my first pay slip!
You’ve just finished university, you’ve bagged yourself a trainee placement and now you’re earning your first full time salary. What a great feeling! You might now be wondering how you can make your hard-earned pay slips last. Managing your money and learning how to budget are two things you should master early to make sure you stay in a strong financial situation. Budgeting might sound boring, but it isn’t there to deprive yourself of things you love. It is there to make sure you have control over your money and know you can cover every part of your life from fees for the GHPC assessment and registering as a pharmacist to dental costs, healthcare costs and everyday expenses. If you plan to go locum, you’ll also need to factor in extra expenses such as personal indemnity insurance when you first join the register.
How can I have control over my money?
A great place to begin would be to ensure you carefully read and keep a copy of your employment contract. An employment contract refers to the agreement between employer and employee. One of the main items you need to look out for is your wage. All trainees must get paid at least the national minimum wage for under 23 years old, or the living wage for over 23. As with any new job, make sure any remuneration offer will be enough to cover all your day-to-day living expenses. To find out more information on employment contracts, take a look at our website.
What about budgeting?
A simple way to budget is to remember the 50/30/20 rule. With each monthly net wage (what you take home after tax), allow for up to 50% for essentials (such as rent, mortgage, minimum debt repayments, bills and food), 30% for wants (non-essentials such as eating out and socialising, subscription services like Netflix, and holidays), and 20% for savings (such as a house deposit, emergency fund, and pension) and clearing outstanding debt. One of the best ways to figure out your 50/30/20 allowance and keep on track with your spending is to create a budget planner. Money helper has a free online planner. Enter what you earn and how much you spend, and they will give you a personalised breakdown of your finances. On top of that, they will provide you with tips on making the most of the money you earn.
What if I don’t have an income yet?
Keeping on top of your finances is still crucial to ensuring you have enough funds to tide you over if you have no income. For pharmacy trainees, this could be when you have finished university and have yet to begin your training programme, or after your training programme has ended and before you start working. If you find yourself in this position, you may be eligible for jobseekers’ allowance (JSA). Remember to start the JSA claim as quickly as possible. You must prove you are both available for work and actively looking for work. If successful, the benefits will be payable from the point the claim began. To begin a claim and see the full details, visit the government website.
I’m finding money management overwhelming
It’s normal to feel confused about money when starting to earn. For more help, we have a lot of information on our website about managing your money, finding funding and help with debt. If you’re facing financial hardship, you may also be eligible for a hardship grant through our Financial Assistance service. Another way we can support you if you are having financial issues is by referring you to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), where you’ll be able to speak to a specialist advisor. If thinking about money management is negatively affecting your mental wellbeing, you may want to seek extra support. Listening Friends is our peer support service which lets you speak anonymously and confidently to one of our trained volunteer pharmacists about any pharmacy-related problems, or pressures you may be facing whilst studying or working in pharmacy. They don’t just have to be about money management, Listening Friends are there to listen to your concerns and support you to find clarity and solutions.
For further guidance and support during your foundation training year and beyond, please visit our website pharmacistsupport.org. For similar guidance and information and to stay up to date with all the support available to you, please sign up to our bi-monthly newsletter.
This article was written in collaboration with the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association. For more information about the BPSA and to see how they can support you during your studies and training placement, please visit their website.