Get an Aadhar card and PAN card
This is a requirement if you want to transact online or make a Demat account. Visit UIDAI to get or update your Aadhar card and incometaxindiaefiling to get a PAN card after you have an Aadhar card. Getting an Aadhar card and a PAN card is free for resident Indians.
Open your own bank account with Netbanking
Open a bank account in your own name and enable Netbanking or online banking to be able to use it online. I personally use SBI, because there is no minimum balance requirement, but I have heard good things about foreign banks like Citibank as well. However, be rest assured that the fees on a non-SBI bank account will be much higher to compensate for perhaps better service. I generally don’t find the need to visit my SBI branch as almost everything can be done online except for cash deposits, which I do not need.
Open a PPF account
Open a PPF account at a bank branch that is convenient for you. A PPF or Public Provident Fund account is meant to save money for retirement. Deposits and withdrawals are tax-free as of now. One thing to note is that money in a PPF account is locked for a period of 15 years from the date you make the account, so only put in spare money into this account. Just remember to deposit at least INR 500 every financial year into the account to keep it active.
Save at least 50% of your pocket money every month, preferably in a separate account
This is so that you can have enough money for future expenses, especially when you aren’t earning much income, such as during retirement years. If you can increase this to 80% or more, it will ensure that you can retire early, maybe even at the age of 40 or earlier depending on how well your investments perform. You should ideally have at least two bank accounts – one for spending and one for savings and investments.
Track your expenses
You can use a Google Sheet or an Excel spreadsheet any other convenient tool to track your expenses every month. It will help give you an idea of where your money is going so that you can choose to direct it where it really matters.
Buy health insurance
This is one of the most important things to do when you are young, as you may not have any pre-existing illnesses and the premiums will also be lower. There are tax benefits that you can claim, but this investment is necessary so that medical emergencies don’t wipe out your savings.
Buy a laptop or desktop with an SSD in it
Buy a laptop or assemble your own desktop depending on your availability of space and the need for portability and your budget. Expect to spend at least INR 40,000 on this for a new laptop with an SSD or solid-state drive, which is 5-10 times faster than one without it. You can use this laptop or desktop to freelance and earn money, so do not think of it as a waste. It is a tool like anything else which can be used for good.
Assembling a desktop is cheaper than a laptop in the long run. It is a fun exercise and can teach you a lot about how computers work. It gives you an added amount of customizability because you can decide what parts you want to use, which you cannot while buying a laptop.
Learn how to file your taxes on your own
This is important so that you have a record of how much you earn over the years. It is helpful when you apply for visas to go abroad and when applying for loans. You can file a zero return, i.e. where you don’t owe any tax or have any refund, but it helps in the long run.
Learn how to freelance and earn money online
Every 18 year old should learn how to freelance and make their own money. There are various skills that you can learn to offer in exchange for money, for example, content writing, copywriting, blogging, sales funnels, marketing automation digital marketing services such as social media, Facebook ads, google ads, Instagram marketing, virtual assistance, and other skills that help businesses drive sales. Approach clients with a portfolio of your own projects and work that you have done and get paid in foreign currency as opposed to working for peanuts for some exploitative companies. This article by Vedant Naskar lists down 7 tried and tested ways to earn money online.
Get started with content writing
To get started with content writing, you need to make your own portfolio, where you write sample articles of around 500 words on 4-5 different topics so that you can demonstrate your writing ability to potential clients. You can use the free plans of WordPress to make your portfolio website in the beginning. Once you earn some money, you can invest in your own domain name and hosting.
Next, you should approach clients who post jobs on Content Writing and freelance related Facebook groups. Contact them via DM or Email, as they specify in the post, and pitch your services to them, describing how you can help their business achieve better results. Follow up after 3-5 days in case you don’t get an immediate response.
Good people to follow on the topic of Content Writing Freelancing are:
- Shreya Pattar
- Follow her on LinkedIn for advice on how to deal with clients and how to charge.
- Khalil Ullah Khan
- Follow his YouTube channel for advice on how to write a cover letter and how to pitch to clients.
- Saheli Chatterjee
- Follow her YouTube channel for advice on how to get started in the field of content writing.
Each of them also has their own paid courses and ebooks to learn advanced strategies, but their free material is more than sufficient to get started. Also, they have good examples of portfolio websites.
Invest as low as 500 a month in a low-fee, direct mutual fund
From the point of view of investing, the more you can save and invest, the better it is for you in the long run. You can start with as low as 500 rupees a month in a low-cost mutual fund, which over long periods of time generally give reasonable returns. These are not guaranteed, but they are one of the few ways to make sure that inflation doesn’t eat away at your money as you grow older.
To learn more about mutual funds, visit this article by Harish Gupta. It provides an introduction to how mutual funds work and why you should invest in them.
Take up an online course
Apart from what you learn in college, it is very important to improve your soft skills such as communication and networking and even hard skills such as coding. Here is a list of courses that I have taken to help you decide on one that may be right for you.