Your twenties are truly your golden years. Your list of responsibilities is short, your bucket list is long, and you’re free to live in the moment the majority of the time.
When it comes to non-essential expenses, you are happy justifying them with mantras like “life is short” and “you’re only in your twenties once”. While it is important to enjoy yourself and take advantage of spontaneous opportunities, your twenties are also a critical time for building smart financial habits that can put you ahead of the game by the time you reach your thirties.
Now that I’m almost thirty, I’ve realized that there are a few things I could have done to set myself up better for the next stage of my life.
Here are a few tips from the almost thrity-somethings at WealthJar:
Don’t waste money on things that don’t add value to your life
In your twenties, you feel you’re more in tune with the present moment. This is probably because you’re constantly plugged to social media and being targeted and re-targeted by companies that want you to open your wallet. Due to this constant exposure, our generation is more aware than ever of what we don’t have, often comparing ourselves to others without even noticing it.
Take our advice: observe but don’t react. Instead, re-focus on your own goals and everything you already have.
Start building your credit
It’s never too early to start using that shiny piece of plastic to your advantage. Just make sure you spend well below what you’re able to pay off at the end of the month. Most importantly, don’t carry a balance for too long or let any bills go unpaid. Interest rates on short term debt like credit cards are generally sky high and you don’t want to be left owing more than you spent.
In the same vein, failure to pay your debts in a timely manner in your twenties can hurt you well into your thirties when you’re really going to want good credit to ease big purchases like a new car or your dream house.
Live within your means
This may seem obvious but it’s a lot harder than it sounds when you’re in your twenties. You want to have fun, but it’s not always a good strategy to “fake it ‘till you make it”. Keeping your monthly overhead low and only buying what you can afford will help you build your credit and make large purchases easier as you build your wealth.
Save some of that cash
In your twenties, you may feel poor compared to other members of your family and some of your older friends. But you’re richer than you think. Can you give up one seven dollar ($7) latte a week? Find a cheaper cell phone plan? Live with a roommate or two?
In your twenties, you have the power to control where each of your dollars goes. Putting a mere $100 away each month in an investment account now will help you leverage the power of compounding into your thirties, forties, and fifties.
Be careful how you spend borrowed money
Whether it’s a Federal student loan or a loan from a family member, don’t spend it frivolously. If you don’t need all of it, don’t spend it all. You will have to pay it back one day. And as the saying goes “a dollar saved is a dollar earned”.