Money Matters with Sharon Epperson

In episode 26 of the Coffee Break w/ NYWICI podcast, we asked Sharon Epperson, senior personal finance correspondent for CNBC, all of our most pressing money questions. On top of sharing her must-know tips for handling your finances, she also offered some essential workplace advice. Here are a few key takeaways that will help both your bank account and your career.

The future is bright

“What you’re doing right now is not the end-all and be-all for your career or your career at this company,” Sharon says. She herself tried on different roles, from a Time magazine writer to a foreign correspondent. The media industry is constantly evolving, she says, and young employees should bring innovation to their workplace—but also shouldn’t be afraid to go somewhere they can grow professionally.

Always be ready to pivot

“I absolutely fell into financial journalism,” Sharon says. She was 22 years old and working at Time when she went to a journalism conference and met with people from CNBC. She had a business story that fit what CNBC was looking for, so she spun her clips and resume to fit their requirements. “You just need to have a spin for the job you want to do,” she says. “You always have to be ready to pivot. You don’t know what the job market is going to be like, where the opportunity is going to be.”

Keep track of every penny you spend

Having the discipline to keep track of your income and expenses will help you immensely through all of life’s phases, according to Sharon. “You need to keep track every penny that you spend,” she says. While it can be tricky to keep on top of it all, make a point of monitoring all your streams of income, the taxes you pay, and all of your expenses.

Automate part of your finances

Sharon recommends as an easy way to keep track of expenses. The site will even send you text alerts about purchases and bank balances so you’ll always know the state of your finances. She also suggests setting your direct deposits to go directly into a savings account—and then transfer 60 percent into your checking account for paying bills. “Money should go to savings because when you have money available in your checking, you end up spending,” she says.

Try the 60 Percent Solution

Think about your income this way: 60 percent of your gross income is for immediate and revolving expenses like housing, student loans, and food; 20 percent is for long-term savings like retirement; 10 percent goes to savings for emergencies like illness or expensive car problems; and the last 10 percent is “fun money” to spend how you like. “Having that 60 percent solution really did help me get started in saving when I didn’t have as many financial responsibilities,” Sharon says, “so then when it did hit crunch time, I at least had that discipline of knowing what I should do.”

Can’t get a 401(k)? Go for a Roth IRA

Sharon’s favorite retirement instrument is the Roth Individual Retirement Account (or Roth IRA). “It’s a good way to start saving if the company that you go to doesn’t have a 401(k) plan,” she says. A Roth IRA is different from a traditional IRA because you pay taxes before the money goes into the account, as opposed to paying taxes whenever you withdraw money from a traditional IRA. If you withdraw money from a traditional IRA early, you have to pay a penalty and have to state a withdrawal as income. But with a Roth IRA, the money you take out is fully yours because you already paid the taxes upfront. Choosing the right account for you will pay off in the end.

Follow @sharon_epperson on Twitter to learn more about her exciting work.

— Maylan Studart

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