We know that public education comes up short when it comes to financial literacy. Mainly it is left up to parents are teaching kids about finances and if your parents are not good with their money, they are going to struggle teaching their kids. Sadly for those thrust into adulthood find out about making good financial decisions the hard way — through making mistakes.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are so many resources out there that can help you find success, even if your parents did not teach you.
Learn to Live Within Your Means
This seems so very obvious and you have heard it a millions times but for many it’s really hard. Many young people spend the first three years of their 20’s engaged multiple forms of instant gratification lik using that awesome new credit card to insure you always have any food you want (pizza for the whole Frat house!), the latest style of clothes or just spending it on mindless college fun.
I’ve been there and done that. I can tell you that cleaning up that mess took the rest of my 20s and sadly, it still was such a challenge that I still struggled in my 30’s. So the best advice is to start now to live on a budget that allows what you are spending to be way less than what you are bringing in.
Pay Down Debt
They say the average college student has right around $4,138 in credit card debt, according to Sallie Mae. Now this does not sound too bad, nothing that a few months of serious work can’t tackle but this number doesn’t include car loans, student loans and other debts.
If you have debt, work now to begin paying it off. In fact you should always try to have a really small debt to income ratio just because it is so easy to let it get out of hand.
Make Saving a Habit
Your 20’s are a good time to develop a savings habit. If you were not lucky enough to have parents that make you save, save, save when you were young, now is the time to crack that nut and get to work. You can consider the money that goes into a savings account an part of your budget. This means you pay it like a bill. That way you don’t ever make an excuse and not put something away.
The best thing to do is to make it automatic and make sure that you always have the money taken out just like your car payment. That way it was never there to being with in your eyes.
Start Learn the Importance of Investing
There are honestly people who open an IRA in high school when they got their first jobs. Those people are seriously smart.
I was not one of those people. However I can tel you that the the earlier you start investing, the more money you will have when you are older and that’s a good thing. Once you start seeing the crazy power of compound interest you’ll be hooked.
Learn Marketable Skills
When you are in your 20’s this is one of the best times to learn skills and education that can benefit you down the road.
You need to look forward and see what skills will be in demand in the coming years, and consider what you enjoy. You need to find a balance of function, demand and enjoyment. If you hate finance them don’t be a financial manager. Find a career that is marketable and can be driven by your passion.
Establish Credit Now
First we are not talking about getting totally out of control with the credit cards. You just need to start simple. Be careful, because you want to make sure that you are establishing the good kind of credit.
A credit card, can be one of the most effective ways to do this, but only if you pay off the balance each month. That’s right, you want to be able to pay off what you have on your credit cards each month.
You can also look to get a small auto loan or other small obligation that you can make monthly payments on and then make sure you pay on time every time. This will help you in the future as you buy a home, and even as you look for good deals on auto insurance.
Chose the Right Partner, with the Right Goals
Of course you need to find someone who understands your goals for the future but you also want someone that has similar ones. If you are with someone or find someone that has issues in the past but has resolved them now, then you can work forward together. Never combine your finances however until you both have discussed how they are to be managed and if they should be combined in the first place.
There are lot’s of frugal travel ideas, low-cost entertainment and even options to save on books, movies and other fun. Just think before you spend.
Saving money is about freedom, and the reason you need to be doing it early in your 20s is because this will allow you to get there that much quicker. Then you have the rest of your life to enjoy, travel and live it up!