In three short months I’ll be turning the big 3-0. Instead of fearing this number I’ve been looking at it with the glass half full mentality. I learned some hard lessons in my twenties and because of that I feel like I’m entering this new decade of my life with much more wisdom than I had the last.
One area that was hit and miss for me was finances. I did a lot of things right, like staying out of debt and building an emergency fund, but there were definitely other areas I should’ve been focused on in my early twenties.
If you’re getting ready to enter your twenties adopting these financial habits will greatly benefit you.
# 1 – Learning to Set Financial Goals
One of the most important skills to be learned, not just in regards to finances but life in general, is goal setting.
Proper goal setting can help you map out a plan for your life in the short term and long term. You should regularly set goals for your finances, career and personal development and check in on those goals regularly.
# 2 – Setting Up Spending Guidelines for Yourself
I’m not a hardcore budgeter, in fact, I believe super strict budgeting can often backfire. With that said I do operate on guidelines and I think these are completely necessary when you begin to earn money.
If you don’t make a plan for how your income is going to be spent you’ll wind up with no money left to pay your bills at the end of the month.
To get started figure out the amount of income you’ll be bringing in each month and what financial obligations you need to meet. Figure out what each of your bills will be every month, add in your financial goals and savings and then you can spend the rest as you please.
# 3 – Consistently Saving
When I got my first “real job” my Grandma told me that I needed to save at least $20 each paycheck. Even though $20 per week is a fairly small amount I didn’t do it. A couple more years passed before I realized the importance of savings.
You need to develop the habit of saving money NOW. Even if it’s a small amount like $20 per paycheck.
If you don’t have savings you’ll be relying on debt to pay for unexpected expenses.
Start by saving an emergency fund with at least three months’ worth of expenses. After that start saving for more personal financial goals like a down payment on a house or money for a vehicle.
# 4 – Avoiding Debt
Debt is a trap. I’ve only had a little bit of consumer debt in my life and I felt horrible each and every month making those payments.
If you get yourself in debt, especially credit card debt, and only make the minimum payment you’ll spend years paying back that money and end up paying more in interest than the items you bought were worth.
Avoid consumer debt like credit cards, pay-as-you-go furniture and electronics, and of course, payday loans. Save cash for your purchases instead. And if you do take out debt for a car or a house make sure that you’re leaving plenty of room to pay those bills.
# 5 – Learning About Investment Options
Just like with saving early the earlier you get started investing the more money you’ll have in the future. Because of the way interest compounds investing just a few years earlier can leave you with tens of thousands of extra dollars in retirement.
If your employer offers a retirement plan sign up! Invest as much as you can as early as you can.
You should also learn about other investment opportunities so you can figure out what interests you the most.
# 6 – Acquiring the Skills Necessary to Earn More Money
One of my bigger mistakes was not looking for ways to earn more money sooner. I’ve finally hit a place where I’m happy with my income and able to meet the goals I have set for myself, but this definitely wasn’t always the case.
There are tons of different ways to earn extra money. If you feel like you aren’t earning enough to meet your goals, explore your options.