“I got into non-profits to get rich,” said no one ever. People do not go into this line of work for the money. If it leads to that, it is a bonus.
At the end of the day, people who work for non-profits hope their time and effort will help make the world a better place.
The non-profit sector is infamous for being synonymous with the phrase “overworked and underpaid”.
In a CNN Money article, Stressful Jobs that Pay Badly, many of the jobs listed provide low-median pay, but include titles commonly found in the non-profit sector – social workers, events coordinators and fundraisers.
But with proper budgeting, people can better prepare themselves for a non-profit career.
Without knowing where the money goes, it is difficult to allocate it well. Tracking one’s spending has become almost a cliché when it comes to budgeting tips, but for good reason: it works.
Most people are not aware of their own financial leaks. It could be regular lattes or app-buying sprees. It’s good practice to be aware of slip-ups and take concrete steps to improve that expense category.
Spending can be tracked in many ways. Pen and paper are old-school but a budgeting app is easier.
Most offer a monthly summary of spending and total spent for the month. The aim is to spend less than one earns.
Tackle the three biggest expenses first
The three biggest expenses for the average person are housing, transport and food – usually in that order. If any non-essential spending items made it into the top three, there is something wrong somewhere.
Housing: Reducing the cost of these three categories can shave a lot from your monthly expenses. For housing, consider getting a roommate(s), downsizing or renting out an unused room.
Transport: For transport, consider moving closer to work (once the job is confirmed. Bonus point: less of a commute), carpooling or cycling to work. If there is no choice but to buy a car, don’t go for a fancy, expensive one.
Food: Try packing your lunch, budgeting for networking sessions and sticking to it. Do weekly meal planning and buy food with a long shelf life in bulk.
Automate as much as possible
There are two main things that must be automated – recurring bills and the retirement allocation.
Recurring bills should be automated because it can shave off at least a couple of hours of work a month, which could be spent relaxing. Just make sure to periodically check for possible inaccuracies. Be strict about these bills – no non-essential subscriptions.
Your retirement allocation should be automated because a person can be so busy saving the world, they forget to save themselves in the process. Put a healthy amount every month in a safe retirement account.
One can even go the extra mile and invest in ethical companies through exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Websites such as Ethical Consumer provide a free guide to ethical investment funds, as well as tips on how to choose an ethical fund.
These budgeting tips are not exhaustive, nor are they exclusive for those pursuing a career in the non-profit sector.
However, it is a good place to start in addressing financial health. Being in the non-profit sector can be rewarding for the soul. Make it financially rewarding for you as well.
This article first appeared in The New Savvy.
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