Cash points

Sean Coughlan highlights the hard realities behind the sudden disappearance of that first cheque

The arrival of the first pay cheque for your first job is one of those rare jackpot-winning moments when you feel rich. After years of getting by on student loans, overdrafts and part-time jobs, you suddenly have a fat cheque heading straight for your bank account.

This must be good news - all that cash and so little time to spend it. But life has a way of slamming on the brakes. Because even though you might be planning a spending spree, your first pay cheque often marks the moment when your money starts becoming everyone else's money.

It belongs to the taxman, the council, the bank that's collecting its loan. The landlord, the pension fund. A queue is forming around the block to collect a slice. It's like robbery by direct debit.

According to a survey by HSBC bank, getting started in a first job costs graduates an average of pound;3,500 in the first three months. This includes costs such as paying a deposit on accommodation and rent in advance - the average in London is about pound;600 a month. The survey also highlights that getting ready for work costs you money; buying presentable clothes and shoes costs an average of pound;350.

There are also travel costs to consider, which for commuters can mean a couple of hundred pounds a month. And first jobbers spend almost pound;800 on council tax, a television licence, insurance, and keeping themselves in food and treats at work. The bank also sees a new job as thirsty work, as it says pound;400 is spent in the pub getting to know new colleagues.

You'll also be encouraged to join the teachers' pension scheme, which is good long-term value, but takes another 6 per cent from your income.

Starting work will mean paying off all the borrowing built up over four years of student life. Bank loans and credit cards will have to be paid. And from April many teachers have to start repaying student loans, set at 9 per cent of earnings above the threshold of pound;833.33 per month. For new teachers outside London, this usually means more than pound;50 a month.

Suddenly you're wondering where all that money went.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you