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How to Budget After Landing Your First Job

A young woman in a yellow sweatshirt and jeans leans against a gray couch. She is holding a credit card and a red smartphone.

Budgeting After Landing Your First Job

Whether you’ve just graduated from college or you’ve gone straight into the workforce after high school, learn how to create and manage a budget and make the most out of your new income with the help of Landmark National Bank.

Create a Budget and Stick To It

Setting yourself up for success starts with determining how you’ll spend your money each month. From rent to utilities to gas to get you to work, you may be facing a few new expenses you haven’t had to cover in the past. While it may be tempting to spend your hard-earned new income on gadgets, tech, eating out, or clothing, remember to set up a budget to make sure you’re not spending more than you’re bringing home. These steps will help you learn how to budget after landing your first job. 

Start With Fixed Bills

A majority of your bills will show up every month including rent, car payment, student loans, phone, internet, and more. Start with these as you know they likely won’t go away or change anytime soon. In addition to fixed bills, set aside a bit of money each month for emergency expenses should they arise. 

Add Variable Expenses

two hands are holding a grocery receipt with grocery bags in the background

Additional expenses include groceries, eating out, entertainment, and other expenses that may occur some months and likely change from one month to the next. You can’t cut back on how much you spend on rent or utilities, but you can — and should — tighten your entertainment budget if you find you’re running out of money each month. 

Stick To the Budget You Set

If you create a budget but don’t stick to the parameters you’ve set, you’ve defeated the purpose of a budget. Creating a budget itself is easy, but the habit of budgeting takes time to build up and stick to. One of the best ways to see if your budget is working for you is to track your spending habits each month.

Track Your Spending Habits

If you’re making money and spending money, you should be tracking it. Tracking your spending habits is essential to make sure you’re sticking to the budget you’ve created. Tracking your spending is critical if your income is irregular, and you’re not sure what each paycheck will look like. 

Whether it’s weekly, every other week, or even monthly, take time to sit down and make sure your expenses are accounted for. Even if your paycheck is the same each pay period, tracking your spending ensure your budget isn’t off. It also allows you to adjust your budget if you notice you’re spending too much to be sustainable. You can track your spending in several ways:

  • Keeping notes with pencil and paper
  • Using an app
  • Separating money into envelopes each month

Monitor Your Credit

a person is looking at their excellent credit score on their smartphone

While owning and using a credit card can help you build up credit for future purchases such as a car or house, it’s important that you pay it off each month and don’t use it to make purchases you can’t afford. 

If you have a large amount of high-interest debit, make paying your credit off a priority. Having a credit card will help you build your credit score, but if you’re missing payments, forget about a closed account, or take on too much debt, your credit score will take a hit. 

Stay on top of your spending habits and once you’ve started building credit, stay on top of monitoring it. You can either pay for a credit monitoring service or take advantage of free tools through your credit card company, depending on the brand.

Monitoring your credit has an additional advantage; if you or a credit monitoring service notice unusual purchases or inquiries on your account, someone may be trying to steal your identity. 

Set Financial Goals

Whether you’re saving up for that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing for months, or have been putting away money for a house for years, it’s important to set financial goals for yourself. Just as you have in the past with goals you set growing up, make sure the financial goals you set for yourself are SMART

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time bound

Take the time to write down the financial goals you set, create an action plan, and then work to achieve them. 

If you’re not sure what goals you should set, start small by challenging yourself to save a certain amount of money each month or pay off a set amount of debit. Financial goals for college graduates will look different from financial goals set by those who have been in the workforce for 10+ years. Just as your career and life goals change, your financial goals will too and that’s okay! Take a look at the goals you’ve set every few months and adjust as needed. 

Grow Your Savings

According to NerdWallet, experts suggest saving between 10% and 20% of your paycheck each month — however that’s not a golden rule. Some people have the ability to add more to their savings each month and pay off debt, while others are only able to cover basic expenses. 

If this is your first experience with building a savings account, don’t be discouraged if you have to start small. Something as simple as saving $10 a week can add up to $520 a year. Learning how to practice saving money is an especially valuable skill for students and recent graduates.

Manage Your Money With Landmark National Bank

As you begin to navigate your new lifestyle as a young professional, find a financial service that offers products and services that fit your financial needs. Landmark National Bank has you covered with friendly and professional banking services. Find the resources you need including personal checking accounts, investment accounts, online & mobile banking, and more. 

Start your career on the right foot; find a Landmark National Bank branch location near you today!

4 Tips for Making a Clothing Budget

a man examines his clothing purchase receipt

Planning a Clothing Budget

Whether you’re a die-hard shopper or just want to save money, it’s important to budget for clothing purchases. Whatever stage of life you’re in, it’s entirely possible—and even easy—to enjoy fashion on a budget with a little planning. From deciding how to clothing shop based on your typical shopping frequency to using a savings account to manage your budget, our tips can help you enjoy guilt-free shopping.

How Much to Budget for Clothing

As with any financial advice, there’s a range of opinions regarding how much to spend on apparel. Many experts recommend setting aside five percent of your income for this category.

How you budget depends on several factors, with your job topping the list. You may need to spend more if your work requires you to keep up with current trends or have a more business-like appearance. If you work from home or are a student or stay-at-home parent, you can budget considerably less.

How to Save Money on Clothes

Learning how to buy clothes you will actually wear is essential. Take a hard look at your closet, setting aside anything you haven’t worn for six months to a year. If you notice patterns—you seem to never wear blazers while your leggings get quite a workout—pay attention and buy accordingly.

Consider setting up clothing swaps with stylish friends. You’ll pick up new-to-you clothes without spending a dime while clearing seldom-worn pieces from your own closet. Another way some smart shoppers save on clothing is to set aside a bigger chunk of their fashion budget for after-Christmas or mid-summer sales.

Create a Lifestyle-Based Budget for Clothing

Enjoy fashion on a budget by personalizing your spending plan. Some people shop seasonally while others pick up items here and there. If you fall into the latter category, try a monthly budget. You can also adjust a monthly plan by “rolling over” unspent fashion funds, so you have a larger amount set aside for the beginning of each season.

If you don’t trust yourself to leave that money alone for a few months, create a seasonal clothing budget; in this case, consider allocating a small amount in case you need to replace a wardrobe staple or make another “emergency” purchase.

Other Factors That Can Affect Your Clothing Budget

While buying clothes is a necessity for obvious reasons, emotions can get in the way of a healthy attitude towards fashion spending. When you’re learning how to save money on clothes, consider these factors that can influence your clothes budget:

  • Lifestyle
  • Fluctuating weight
  • Quality vs quantity
  • Other financial priorities

Creating a realistic budget that allows some flexibility—but not too much—will help you avoid guilt or arguments with loved ones about overspending. Moving money between spending categories helps you stay on budget. Adjust your budget by spending less in other areas if you have a big purchase for a formal event or new job coming up.

Renting clothes with a monthly subscription plan from companies like Rent the Runway, Le Tote, and Gwynnie Bee lets you expand your wardrobe and simplifies budgeting since you’ll spend a set amount each month.

Manage Your Savings on Clothing With Landmark

Whatever your lifestyle and income, learning how to clothing shop on a budget can help you gain control of your spending. From creating a flexible budget for clothing to learning how to save money on clothes, these tips can reduce spending-related guilt and maintain peace at home.

Find more ideas for budgeting in our blog, or visit a Landmark National Bank branch location near you and start managing your clothing budget with one of our savings accounts today.

How Much Should I Spend on Housing?

A man placing a tiny house on top of a stack of coins.

Budgeting For Housing

The question of how much to spend on housing has always been tricky. But if you’re buying a home in a seller’s market, this key consideration is even more daunting. Whether you rent or buy, understanding what percent of your income should go to housing can help you stay on track to meet your financial goals.

The bank may be willing to lend you much more than you’re comfortable repaying. While you may be dazzled by the possibilities, relying on your lender to decide what you can afford can result in buyer’s remorse. Of course, market fluctuations play a big role in how much house you can afford, but sticking with a reliable mortgage to income ratio will help keep your finances healthy in even the most volatile markets.

How much should you spend on housing?

One popular formula to determine what percentage of your income should go to a mortgage or rent is the 28/36 rule. With this formula, your mortgage, insurance, and taxes should come to 28% or less of your gross income. Your remaining debt should comprise no more than 12%, ensuring that the grand total amounts to less than 36% of what you make in a month.

More Mortgage to Income Ratio Formulas

When asking yourself how much you should spend on housing, you can rely on the 28/36 rule or any number of other percentage-based variations. The 35/45 model suggests you spend 35% of pre-tax income or 45% of after-tax income on housing.

The more conservative option of allotting 25% of your net income for a mortgage or rent gives you less wiggle room but allows more breathing room in your budget for savings and other budget categories.

Housing Affordability Calculators

When determining what percent of your income should go to housing, mortgage calculators can simplify the process. For example, the Quick Rate Calculator from Landmark National Bank makes easy work of deciding how much to spend on housing.

Just plug in a home’s purchase price, your credit score, the amount you have available for a down payment, and a few other figures, and you’ll have an idea of how much house you can afford in minutes. This option can help you prepare to speak with a lender about qualifying for a loan.

Deciding what percentage of your income should go to a mortgage or rent can be daunting in any economic climate. The question becomes even more overwhelming when you add skyrocketing housing costs to the equation.

There are many methods for choosing a mortgage-to-income ratio, but it’s hard to know which one will work for you. Whether you opt for a more conservative option or allow for a higher monthly payment, having a handle on your housing costs is key.

Learn How Much to Spend on Housing with Landmark National Bank

At Landmark Bank, we’re here to help with our quick-and-easy online calculator and a wide range of home loan options. Start the journey to finding your dream home today.  Stop at one of our conveniently located branch locations, or explore our financial calculators before meeting with us in person.


Why is Budgeting Important?

A woman typing up her budget on a laptop.

Make Your Budgeting and Saving Simple

You’ve heard the old phrase a million times—”a place for everything and everything in its place.” This maxim doesn’t just apply to keeping household clutter at bay, though. Every dollar you earn deserves a designated place. Budgeting and saving are really as simple as ensuring that all your money serves a specific purpose. However, the benefits these financial tasks provide go well beyond the basics. Here at Landmark National Bank, you’ll find the budgeting tips you’re looking for and associates in bank branch locations near you who can help.

Why is budgeting important?

No matter how much or how little you make, allocating every dollar to a category can help you reach your financial and life goals. Budgeting takes the guesswork and stress out of money management. It also offers the following benefits:

  • Aids in avoiding debt
  • Helps prevent overspending
  • Is instrumental in planning for the future

Budgeting can even provide a new perspective on money. You’ll get a birds-eye view of how much money you have and where it all goes each month. This new vantage point will even give you a better idea of where your priorities lie from a financial standpoint.

What is a balanced budget?

You might be aware of this term in the context of government spending. However, personal finances can also benefit from a balanced budget. Basically, it boils down to having at least as much money coming in as you have going out. While making more money definitely helps you achieve a balanced budget, managing your finances is essential. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Open a no-fee or high-interest checking account
  • Choose a budgeting app, program or workbook
  • Make funding your savings account part of your routine

These small steps will help you get excited about taking control of your financial health. They make it easy to build momentum and find more ways to work towards an exciting, abundant future.

What is the 50/30/20 principle?

If you don’t know where to begin your budgeting and saving journey, consider using the 50/30/20 principle. More of an approach to money than a strict plan, this concept allocates 50 percent of your money to needs, 30 percent to wants, and 20 percent to financial plans.

The majority goes to house payments or rent, utilities, and other necessities. Just under a third is assigned to budget categories like entertainment, eating out and traveling. The final fifth can include socking away money for a down payment on a house, contributing to your retirement plan, or any other form of savings.

While there are books about the subject, you’ll find no shortage of free 50/30/20 rule spreadsheets to help you get started.

Customized Budgeting and Saving

Whatever your style, there’s a budgeting solution for you. From apps and software to 50/30/20 rule spreadsheets, choose a format that suits your style. Once you’ve chosen a method, establishing and maintaining a budget is easier than you might think. You’re in charge of where your money goes, so you can create whatever categories you like—think weekly movie nights, saving for vacations or dining out monthly—to ensure that you’ll stay on track.

Budgeting is also flexible. You can shift money between categories as needed, with the caveat that you should leave your savings category alone.

Budget With Landmark National Bank

Budgeting and saving provide peace of mind, help you plan for the future, and reduce the likelihood of taking on more debt. Taking action also helps you focus on reaching your short- and long-term goals.

Landmark National Bank has the financial tools you need to stay on-budget, from interest-earning checking accounts and mobile banking alerts to a debit card that rewards you for banking with us. Stop in at your local Landmark National Bank location, or open an account online today.

5 Must-Know Financial Literacy Topics

A man drawing the words "Financial Literacy" on a board.

Five Must-Know Financial Literacy Topics

Knowledge is power, but it’s also health. With the right information and understanding of certain subjects, the way you treat money can entirely change—hopefully for the better. It’s Landmark National Bank’s goal to make sure as many people are financially literate as possible, so we as a society can make well-informed decisions beneficial to ourselves and others.

To meet that end, in the spirit of financial wellness month, we’ve compiled a brief primer of five of the most important financial literacy topics that we think everyone should know. Hopefully, we’re able to provide you with an intuitive explanation of these subjects so that if you haven’t started to think about them yet, you can begin now.

Why is Financial Literacy Important?

Financial literacy is important because it helps you understand the best ways to use your money in both the short and long term. When you’re skilled and smart about your money, you’ll find yourself less financially stressed, less wasteful, and better able to pursue your goals as it relates to your monetary status.

#1 – Personal Financial Management and Earning Money

Also known as PFM, personal financial management is the simple practice of organizing and tracking your spending, accomplished through the use of a budget. A budget is a plan that helps an individual or family understand what they can and cannot afford, what their anticipated expenses are, and how to measure their different income streams, among other goals orbiting finances. Mastery over a budget and PFM can empower people to feel more in control of their money.

#2 – Protection and Insurance

Insurance exists as a countermeasure against potential loss. In exchange for a premium—a certain agreed-upon sum of upfront payment—as well as consistent, ongoing payments, an insurance company will agree to financially support an individual or company should misfortune befall them in the future. The exact policies and conditions are subject to change based on the insurance company, as well as the type of insurance you’re securing, so it’s important to carefully consider your needs and what insurance might benefit you the most.

Some common types of insurance include: health insurance, life insurance, travel insurance, car insurance, property insurance, liability insurance, and disability insurance, among others.

#3 – Spending

A woman looking at her debit card and phone.

We spend money for a nearly endless variety of reasons. We need to spend money on monthly and annual bills, subscription fees, mortgage/rent, groceries, recreation, property upgrades, medical premiums, and so on. By spending money, we’re stimulating the economy, upholding our responsibility as citizens, and enriching our lives through the things we love.

In the discussion about why financial literacy is important: this is why it’s important to spend money effectively, taking us back to PFM and the power of a good budget. When we know our money coming in versus money going out, we can take the steps to spend money in intelligent, well-considered ways.

#4 – Borrowing

Among the financial literacy topics, understanding the importance of borrowing money is critical. Poor borrowing decisions can deal tremendous damage to the long-term health of your budget and lifestyle, chaining you to frustrating, nonoptimal repayment plans. But loans themselves are not the enemy, and can serve as a boon in some circumstances.

A well-chosen loan can help you out of an unexpected emergency scenario, get your promising new business on its feet, or allow you to make an important life transition. Before committing to any new loan, ensure you understand the institution behind it, the terms and conditions, interest rates, additional costs, and any involved collateral. All of these details should be outlined in the contract you’ll be asked to sign.

#5 – Saving and Investing

Essential to the financial literacy training experience is the understanding of how saving and investing can elevate your financial portfolio. You’ll find many practices surrounding exactly how much you should save and when; but virtually every source of wisdom agrees you should be saving something.

A good savings account can provide lucrative benefits, such as making you more money the longer you have cash sitting in it. Other healthy practices include:

  • Not spending all of your money as soon as it comes in
  • Stowing part of it away in case of emergency
  • Saving money in anticipation of a large purchase, like the down payment on a car

Investing is an extension of saving. It’s wielding your money in a way that the money is allowed to grow on its own. Like everything else on this list, investing is an entire skill unto itself, and can take years to cultivate. However, a strong investment profile can create unrivaled financial security and generate you wealth in addition to your income.

Learn More and Live More with Landmark

The learning never stops. Though we’ve covered some of the basics, remember each of these financial literacy topics can go far deeper. The benefits you can reap from high-level literacy are worth the effort necessary to master each of them.

To continue in the spirit of financial wellness month, Landmark National Bank would like to encourage you to explore the benefits of our personal savings account, designed to help you earn interest and invest in your future. This is a great next step toward learning how financial literacy is important, and how it can directly improve your life.

Find a Landmark National Bank location near you to talk to a banker about your financial needs!

Tips for Managing Your Subscriptions

Woman sitting on her couch choosing something to watch from her streaming service.

Managing Your Subscriptions

Subscribing to a newspaper or signing up for the hot new streaming service is easier than ever. With a few clicks, you can enjoy the latest movies, news, podcasts, and other entertainment. Free trials make these memberships even more appealing.

But that convenience is also what makes it so easy to pay for more entertainment or information than you can possibly consume. Learning how to manage your subscriptions can help prevent forgotten charges from appearing on your bank statement.

How to See What Subscriptions You Have

The costs of your $8.99 streaming service, $9.99 newspaper subscription, and $11 food delivery membership may not seem like much individually. But together, they can put a strain on your budget.

It’s easy to forget that you’ve signed up for a seemingly inexpensive service, and even easier to forget about free trials. Learn how to track your subscriptions and rescue your budget with Landmark National Bank.

Tracking Subscriptions in Your Digital Wallet

For subscriptions attached to a digital wallet, it’s relatively simple to see what you’re paying for every month. Google Pay and Apple Pay users can see existing memberships by heading to the Subscriptions section. Google users will find theirs under “Payments and Subscriptions”; it’s found under “Settings” for Apple users.

PayPal-funded subscriptions are listed under the “Payments” tab, which you can access by selecting the settings icon.

How to Manage Subscriptions

App developers took note of the challenge multiple subscriptions pose to consumers’ wallets. They responded by creating apps to track and manage memberships and automatic payments. Some options for finding your subscriptions include:

  • Mint
  • Trim
  • Subby
  • Bobby
  • Truebill
  • Track My Subs

Some apps are free; others charge a fee or offer tiered membership options. It might seem ironic to pay for a membership to an app that tracks your paid subscriptions, but if it works, it’s worth it.

How to Avoid the Over-Subscription Trap

Companies know what they’re doing. Free trials offer a great way to check out a streaming service or other membership, but they do make it easy to add another bill to your monthly budget without even noticing. Even worse, fewer companies offer the 30-day free trials that were once so common.

Instead, you get seven days of free services. If you don’t take advantage of your new service in the first few days, you’re more likely to forget you signed up for it. Before you know it, you’re paying for yet another membership without the benefit of enjoying it. Ask yourself these questions before signing on the dotted line:

  • Am I only signing up because it’s free?
  • Do I have time to use this subscription?
  • Does this membership offer benefits I really need?

Being honest with yourself can help you avoid being swamped with subscriptions and associated fees that end up doing nothing but costing you money and effort.

Eliminate Subscriptions from Your Budget with Landmark

Knowing how to manage subscriptions can help you avoid a common money trap. While the conventional money-saving wisdom once began with dropping cable TV, today’s cord-cutters can adapt the same concept to streaming services, paid podcasts, and other sneaky budget bombs.

Landmark National Bank makes managing your finances even easier with a variety of online and mobile banking. From tracking expenses via our mobile app to earning shopping points with the Landmark National Rewards, partnering with us helps you protect and grow your finances.

Visit your local Landmark National Bank branch location and enjoy access to other financial tools and products.

How to Save Money by Cooking at Home

A man with his son making vegetable salad.

Save Money by Cooking at Home

Most of us enjoy dining out, at least once in a while. And takeout makes our lives infinitely easier. But for many, eating out isn’t a special treat; it’s a regular habit. The average American eats food from a restaurant nearly six times per week. Restaurant meals aren’t just less healthful in general; they’re also much more expensive than home-cooked meals.

So, how much can you save by cooking at home, especially with help from affordable meal prep? We’ll answer this question and share time- and money-saving tips.

Average Cost of Dinner at a Restaurant

Business Insider analyzed the average meal cost at restaurants around the country. In New York, a restaurant meal will set you back $12. In Kansas, that price is just under two dollars less. That may not sound like a lot, but it means the average New Yorker spends about $3,470 a year on restaurant fare and Kansas residents shell out approximately $2,167 annually.

Having food delivered doesn’t cost much less than a full-service meal, depending on whether you add alcohol to the mix. According to Money Crashers, delivery fees, tips and the food itself can drive costs up to five times more than a meal cooked from scratch.

How Cooking Meals at Home Can Help

You don’t have to cook everything from scratch to save money. While affordable meal prep plans offer the ultimate in thriftiness and efficiency, a few shortcuts can make home cooking so much easier and less painful for the kitchen-phobic. Try these tips:

  • Make double batches to put in the freezer
  • Use your crockpot or InstantPot for weeknight dinners
  • Plan a leftover night or eat the remainder of dinner for lunch the next day
  • Read recipes in advance to ensure that you have the time and right ingredients
  • Keep canned tomatoes, beans, broths, cream soups, and other kitchen staples on hand

Once you discover how simple cooking can be, you might even find that you like it. And if you don’t fall in love with the culinary arts, searching for simple, limited-ingredient recipes can lessen the pain. Stick with one-pot, sheet-pan, or skillet meals if you hate washing cookware.

Affordable Meal Prep

So, how much money do you save cooking at home? One avid meal-prepper puts his average meal cost at $3.57. Of course, you do have to factor in your time, especially if you’re self-employed. But not only will you save money; you can control portion size and ingredients, which adds up in terms of healthcare savings over time.

If you’re interested in learning more about meal prepping, do a little research and start small. Start by making enough for two or three meals at a time. You may appreciate the time and money savings enough to become a prepping aficionado!

Smarter Grocery Shopping

One benefit of affordable meal prep plans is that they simplify budgeting for groceries. If you know exactly what you’re eating the following week, you can buy only what you need. Even if you don’t plan to meal-prep, try these cost-cutting tips:

  • Always make a list
  • Reduce impulse-buying temptation by shopping online
  • Clip physical or digital coupons for items on your list

Sticking to a food budget will help you stay on track. Use a budgeting app to monitor expenses and remain motivated.

Become a Savvy Shopper with Landmark National Bank

The mobile banking app from Landmark National bank makes easy work of staying on budget. Easily monitor restaurant or grocery expenses to determine your own average meal cost.

Once you discover the average cost of dinner at a restaurant in your town vs cooking at home, it will be easier to make the right choices. You’ll also appreciate having access to in-app bill payments, bank account alerts, and other convenient app features. Find your nearest Landmark National Bank branch location today!