Stepping into the six-figure club brings up a lot of emotions. Happiness, joy, celebration, and excitement are super common. But what about fear, panic, and confusion?
Believe it or not, you can experience the whole rollercoaster, with plenty of highs and lows around making more money.
Just what do you do when you achieve more financial stability? In a world where inflation is up and everything costs more, it feels even more confusing and unclear.
Here are 11 things you must do to cope with financial stress once you start making $100,000.
Go back to the budget board
Building a budget that you can live with is trickier than it seems. After all, your first instinct is probably to cut every single expense possible, vowing to live as cheaply as possible. While that’s a noble goal, the truth is that life is a lot more expensive now.
The better approach is to make a realistic accounting of what your expenses are, what your income is, and what matters the most to you. If you like going out to eat, that’s fine. Just make a budget entry for eating out.
If you don’t give yourself a little wiggle room as you make more money, you could spend like crazy. Budgets are about control and restraint, but not at an unhealthy level.
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Chip away at high interest debt
Credit card debt can carry an interest rate of up to 30% and as interest rates rise, those rates are rising. Yikes!
Instead of letting high-interest credit card debt linger, chip away at it. Now that you’re making more money, take the time to send in more than just the minimum payment.
Up your savings
The most important savings goal once you start making more money is an emergency fund. This rainy day fund is your cushion against uncertainty.
Start with getting your first $1,000 set aside, but don’t stop there. Three to six months of living expenses is really key, and more is better in the face of rising inflation and layoffs.
Contribute to a retirement account
The most common route to retirement these days is regular contributions to a 401(k) at work or your workplace equivalent.
You should definitely set up automatic payroll contributions to a 401(k), but that’s not the only retirement vehicle out there. And if you are self-employed, there’s a similar range of retirement accounts available to you.
You can and should also contribute to a Traditional or Roth IRA. A Traditional IRA is tax-deferred, meaning you pay taxes on withdrawals, but a Roth IRA provides tax-free withdrawals because post-tax monies are used.
Build sinking funds
Let’s say you’ve already built up a good emergency fund. What’s next? Well, when you start making over $100,000, it’s a good idea to also have other funds set aside for other goals.
Want to do a renovation? Sinking fund. Need to start regularly traveling to see family every year? Sinking fund.
As you can see, a sinking fund is just money that isn’t an emergency fund. You can save for any short- or long-term goal you’d like.
Save for a home
Getting on the real estate ladder is often better than renting. Yet to save up closing costs, down payment, and other first-home expenses, you’re going to have to work at it.
Decide what type of starter home you can afford and make it a real goal. Track your savings towards this goal. Maybe you need $25,000 for a down payment. It will take some time, but it’s worth doing.
Owning property has its fair share of responsibilities, but it also has its rewards. Historically, homes in most areas appreciate over time and can become a financial asset as well as a place to live.
Donate to charity
Giving to charity makes you feel good about yourself, it benefits the community, and there are even tax benefits around charitable giving.
Do you need all of those benefits to take part in watching over the community? Not really, but it does provide a financial incentive for people to pour money into where they live, work, and play.
How much should you donate to charity? That depends. For example, if you’re still paying down high-interest credit card debt, that’s going to have to be the priority.
The percentage you give to charity may be a bit less for a while. That’s okay. It’s important to put your own house in order before you reach out to help others.
Keep charity in mind, as it can also help expand your network. Everyone likes a giver, and sometimes we get more opportunities when we make it clear we’re doing our part to take care of others.
Buy yourself more time
Do you feel overloaded, like you couldn’t possibly take on another task? It’s definitely time to slow down and buy yourself more time.
What does that really mean in terms of making more money? Well, it can mean hiring a cleaning service instead of trying to cram all of your cleaning chores into a Saturday or Sunday rush session.
It could also mean purposefully ordering grocery delivery so that you aren’t standing in line with everybody that ran to the supermarket after work.
Leave room for new experiences
Making more money isn’t just about what you spend, it’s about what you learn. Leaving room for new experiences could mean travel, but it’s also about serving others.
You don’t have to donate the bulk of your wealth like Mackenzie Scott or Bill Gates, but you can commit to leaving yourself open for new opportunities.
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Consider going back to school
Getting an education is so much more than just getting a degree. That’s only one path to educational achievement. Perhaps your field of choice is heavy on certifications, as many in the IT industry will attest.
No matter what or how, never stop learning. Take that one-off class, sign up for that three-day intensive, or meet with your boss for a personalized development plan that keeps your skills sharp.
Information is changing at supersonic speeds; you’re going to have to change along with the times.
Get your estate in order
Contrary to popular belief, estate planning isn’t just for the super-rich. You’re going to pass away someday, and that means that there needs to be a plan for what happens to your money.
Dying without a will means that the state gets to decide where your money and property go. They won’t know what you want, so if you have particular needs or wishes, it’s important to spell them out.
As you make more money, having your estate planning documents reviewed by an attorney becomes even more important. Templates abound online, but wills and other end-of-life docs are incredibly state-specific.
Getting into the six-figure club is only the beginning. Once you start making more, you have to start thinking about ways to protect and grow your finances.
Money can work for you, but only if you work at having it do so.