It’s never too early to start planning – just as long as your plans are in pencil, and not permanent marker. In public accounting, starting salaries are typically non-negotiable (despite what your parents might try to tell you) due to the need to establish a level playing field in a start class. Don’t worry: your salary will be competitive, and salaries in accounting are similar across the board (adjusted for cost of living differentials, of course).
The end goal of your internship is a full-time offer. Once that’s on the table, you’ll start thinking about life 18 months down the road, when you move back to your chosen city. Where will you live? Will you buy your first car? How many times per-month can you really afford to go to brunch?
The key to your future is a budget. The key to your budget is your take-home pay. Sure, your salary may be $50,000 per year, but after taxes and savings contributions, you won’t see that dollar amount in your bank account.
Check out this breakdown of take home pay in various cities (provided by our friends in SCMN). Use it to estimate your full-time take-home pay, so you can figure out what kind of rent you can afford (trust me, Zillow will soon be on the top of your “most visited” list). While you’re at it, start tracking your expenses during your internship, so you have a starting place for creating your first post-grad budget.
Feeling inspired to get a jump-start on financial responsibility?
Do a quick Google search for budget-tracking tips. There are PLENTY of articles and blog posts: like this one from US News & World Report.
If you need more structure (like me), consider purchasing a money management software (e.g. Quicken – starter package comes in at about $35 per year).