5 Smart Money Moves to Make in Your 20s
Your 20s are a time to gain experience, explore and even make some mistakes that will teach you invaluable lessons. But financial mistakes don’t have to be among them. While this can be a decade where it’s easy to accumulate debt and develop less-than-ideal financial habits, it doesn’t have to be. Here are five smart money moves you can make in your 20s that will set you up for success in the years ahead.
Start Saving Money – Save for emergencies. Save for retirement. Save for a vacation. Save for a wedding. Are you starting to see a pattern? Saving money now, even in small amounts, will add up over time and help you reduce your reliance on credit cards (or “loans” from mom and dad). Although retirement is years away and emergencies may seem like a remote possibility, they’re a fact of life. Get in the habit of putting away money now so you won’t have to wish you had later.
Get Student Loans Under Control – College sure was fun, wasn’t it? Unfortunately paying back the money used to create all those memories isn’t. But it’s not optional. And contrary to popular belief, there’s no way to have all your student loan debt magically wiped away. However, there are ways that you can make it more manageable or delay making payment as you work toward gaining financial stability. If you need help figuring it all out, TCA’s Student Loan Counseling is a great place to start.
Spend Less Than You Earn – If you can master this now, you’ll be set for smooth financial sailing. It’s one of the most basic principles of money management, and yet it’s one many people in their 30s, 40s and beyond can’t seem to master. Spending less than you earn means you’ll have money to put toward savings, and won’t have to use credit cards to make ends meet. Even if you’re not making much now, making the effort to live frugally will pay off down the road.
Establish Financial Goals – Right now, you may not know where you’re going to be next week, let alone next year. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t establish some financial goals and start working toward them. It’s a matter of determining the milestones that are important to you. Do you wish to eventually own a home? Raise a family? Start your own business? Travel the world? They’re all great goals, and they all require varying degrees of financial stability. You don’t have to map out your whole life, but having a general idea of what you’d like to accomplish in the next several years can help you get there.
Beware of Accumulating Debt – Once you have a steady job and a decent income, credit card companies will be lining up to offer you their cards. Don’t take the bait! It’s way too easy to quickly accumulate an unmanageable level of debt that you’ll be stuck paying off for years. Allow yourself one credit card – designated for true emergencies only – and if you have to use it, pay off the balance as quickly as you can. If you already have more credit card debt than you’d like, Credit Counseling can help you get it under control.