If you are in your 20s, you are probably enjoying the greatest freedom you will ever know. You 20’s come with a bunch of firsts: your apartment, first job, and of course, your first consistent paycheck. But, if you do things right, your 20s offer more than a time to explore – they offer the chance to set yourself up for the rest of your life.
Your wealth in your 30s and 40s will be largely determined by the financial decisions you make in your 20s. The sooner you start making a financial plan for yourself, the brighter your future will be.
Learn about the big financial tasks, such as ‘how to’:
- Invest and build your wealth through stocks, mutual funds, index funds, and bonds.
- Set and keep a budget, how to keep track of where your money went last month, and how to plan where it will go next month.
- Live on the cheap and decrease each of your individual expenses.
While investing in your 20s may sound boring, starting young is easily the best way to get ahead. Beginner mistakes are inevitable at this stage but learn to make them in your stride as your mistakes will only make you wiser. That’s why I have compiled a few tips I wish I knew when I was in my 20s. Following these financial decisions could lend you a better path and help you save quite a bit as well.
#1 You Don’t Have To Be Rich To Invest
There’s a big misconception in the mid-20s that only those with a lot of money should invest in stocks or mutual funds. In fact, a recent study by Bankrate showed that just one in three millennials are investing. You are not going to get rich overnight, which is why you need to start investing with what you have as the investments you make in the present will be your savings in the years to come.
#2 Develop Your Financial Knowledge Base
The 20s is a great time to learn about investing. Find out how you can use the money to improve your returns. Get the basics of how to invest in low-cost funds, as well as how you can use dividend stocks to your advantage. When you understand the basics of investing, you are better able to build wealth over time. Learn how you can use a taxable investment account – in addition to your tax-advantaged retirement account – to boost your wealth.
#3 Stop Spending Much Money On Socializing
Millennials have made it a trend to catch up with their friends at expensive restaurants and bars. While it is alright to spend money on an amazing meal once in a while, don’t make it a habit to eat at expensive places twice a week. Money spent on socializing appears to be spiraling out of control in the case of many, and they need to start cutting back to save a huge chunk of their money.
#4 Make A Budget
A budget is your plan for exactly how much money is coming in compared to how much is going out. Without a budget, you risk overspending on discretionary items and undersaving for important purchases. You can differentiate between your wants and needs if you have a budget.
First, lay out all your daily expenses (such as commuting costs and food bills) and recurring monthly payments (rent, utilities, debts). Next, consider your short- and long-term savings goals, such as an emergency fund and retirement fund.
When you know where all your money is going, you can more easily see how to cut costs.
A budgeting site such as mint.com can be a big help if you want to digitize your budget.
#5 Start Planning For Retirement
I know, I know, you may wonder retirement seems like forever from now. But your 20s are the best time to start saving for retirement. The sooner you start planning for retirement, the better off you’ll be. You can end up with thousands more in your nest egg if you start investing in your 20s, rather than waiting until you are in your 30s. As soon as you start earning income, open a retirement account. If you can’t get a retirement account through your job, open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
Your 20s are an exciting time: you create career opportunities, build relationships and embrace new financial responsibilities. The sooner you master those responsibilities, the closer you are to financial independence. Follow the guidelines above, and watch as your wealth grows.
What is the best financial habit you developed in your 20s? What advice do you have for anyone working on their financial habits?