Five Financial Moves to Make in Your 20s
Your 20s are full of possibilities. Your career is a blank slate. The world is full of experiences you are eager to experience. You have ideas you want to see blossom.
The temptation may be to be carefree, but your 20s are a perfect time to establish some healthy financial habits—habits your future self will thank you for.
1. Live on a budget
A budget is a tool to help you reach your goals. It’s not meant to constrain you. Neither does it have to be a daunting process. Open up an Excel file and start documenting how much money comes in and how much goes out. Or download one of the many easy-to-use apps that can keep you accountable right from your phone.
2. Pay off debt
Most likely you are paying on a large student loan. Keep it up; consistently and on time. If you can, pay a little extra each month. Focus on putting the extra money towards the smallest loan you have or the one with the highest interest rate. That way you can work towards getting your overall monthly payment down by completely paying off one of your loans.
The same is true about credit card debt. Make payments on time and focus on reducing the card with the highest interest rate. When that one is paid off, move onto the next one.
3. Insure yourself
Are you tempted to ignore insurance such as health or medical? This is a mistake. One trip to the emergency room could devastate you financially. So, take the time to buy medical insurance that is suited for you. It doesn’t have to be the best, just sufficient to cover the cost if something happens. In addition, consider life insurance as well. While you may not have anyone who is financially dependent on you, life insurance is an affordable way to take care of expenses—like a funeral—that might incur if you pass away.
4. Cultivate your career
Your first job out of college will most likely not be your last job. In fact, you may change jobs two or three times before you are 30. This is not a bad thing. You have to pay your dues. Develop a new marketable skill through training, seminars or classes. Make yourself valuable at work by volunteering for projects, working on tasks outside your job description and being known as someone who gets things done. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask for a higher salary. Demonstrate your worth and a good employer will be happy to reward you. Eventually, you’ll find a job that pays you a decent living wage to do something you are good at and can feed your passion.
5. Pay your future self
Whether a month from now or 30 years down the road, saving and investing now will be something that your future self will appreciate. For example, saving for an emergency fund—which is somewhere between 3 to 6 months of income—will come in handy on the day your car’s transmission fails or that round of layoffs surprises you on a Friday afternoon. The sooner you get started, the better. You can also benefit and save more by buying a used car. Enroll in your company’s 401(k), maxing it out if possible, especially if they match. Your future self will thank you.
DID YOU KNOW?
A healthy credit score will help you get lower rates on credit cards and loans.
Don’t look at your student loan debt as something to despise. Instead, consider it another tool: one that will help you build a healthy credit score.
Your credit score is also something that will be looked at when you apply for a lease or home loan.