Many people begin their professional life in their 20s, spending freely after getting that college degree and having the independence to manage your own finances. There are common finance mistakes we all make in our 20s, due to inexperience and a lack of appreciation for how much you need to save in certain industries to have a comfortable retirement.
Here are tips you should take into consideration if you’re in your 20s.
Develop a skill
Everyone should follow their passion and use the knowledge they learned in their college days to make a living, but sometimes it’s not that easy. College prepares you for being adaptable and provides you with valuable workplace skills. Hone in on one talent and develop it as much as you can by building a network with people in your industry.
Find roommates or live at home
We live in one of the toughest financial environments young people have seen for decades. This means that finding your own place to live is harder than ever, unless you’re making bank. Consider living at home for a couple of years to save money on rent and food. If that’s out of the question for you, bunk up with people you like in a multi-room apartment to save plenty off your monthly rent check.
Budget for essentials
Actually making a budget is different from having one floating around in your head. Find a system that works for you (such as Excel or a simple Word document) and figure out how much the following items will cost you: rent, food, utilities, Internet, cable and transportation costs. Deduct that figure from your monthly salary, and plan on saving up for a number of other expenses that will come your way, some unexpectedly.
Limit additional spending
It’s only natural that after a long week of work you want some fun, whether that’s going out for drinks to watching Netflix at home. But your entertainment spending probably could use some reining in. Consider going out every other weekend, or by sticking to one video streaming service instead of four.
Enroll in a retirement plan
Figure out what your company’s 401(k) plan is like and enroll in it. Start saving for retirement as early and often as you can in order to set yourself up nicely for the future. If your company doesn’t offer a retirement plan or if you’re a freelancer, you can explore retirement options and set up your own plan.
Many young, healthy people assume that they can go a few years without health care insurance. But accidents and flu season happen. Medical bills are a killer, but they become more manageable when you’re insured by a major health care provider. If your company doesn’t insure you, get your own insurance—consider it an investment for your future.
Buy a used car
Sure, we all love shiny new things, but buying a used car can help you save a lot on transportation costs. Make all your monthly payments in order to make sure your credit doesn’t take a hit. Between insurance, gas and car payments, you will have plenty on your plate—don’t go overboard by impressing your friends with a new car.
Stay on top of student loans
Student loans are a pain, but once you start making monthly payments regularly, they’ll integrate nicely into your budget. Pay more than the minimum, including any interest added that month in order to make sure your bill doesn’t balloon later in your life.
Don’t miss credit card payments as these will hurt your credit report. Stay on top of your rent, car payments, medical bills and any other necessary monthly payments that will help you build credit over time. If you’re planning on buying a house or starting your own business later in life, good credit will help you find financing for these purposes.
Keep an emergency fund
We all want to build emergency cash in case we get fired or another emergency happens, but most people put off this necessity. Your emergency fund should have enough liquid cash to maintain you for six months.