It’s easy to fall into societal traps. In our twenties, we’re told we either need to be living large, exploring and spending our money on experiences or should be slaves to our savings accounts, never splurging. Take it from me, it all comes down to living within your means.
When it comes to finances, we believe balance is better! Set goals, plan trips, go out to dinner with a friend, but learn how to prepare for your future too. Below are small steps you can take in your twenties to begin preparing for your future:
- Start simple – save $1,000
Even if this means you are going to put away only $10 per paycheck, once you start, you will not want to stop until you have reached your goal.
The main purpose is to consider this an emergency fund. When your car breaks down or all the sudden you have an unexpected expense (they happen…) now you’re prepared. This is a tried and true method of an effective way to be prepared for an emergency. No matter how long it takes, once you hit that $1,000 mark you will truly feel accomplished. I know I did!
- See what your employer offers for retirement plans
Most employers, if they are your full-time employer, offer some form of retirement plan for you to contribute to. Granted, it may seem a little early to begin saving in your 20’s but if you start now, it will actually be easier in the long run. Some companies only require you put in a small percentage and they will match to a certain point.
If you can’t have that small percentage taken out of your paycheck for savings, wait until your next review. When you get a raise, first pay your future self by immediately signing up for your company’s retirement plan. Then, pocket the rest. Future you is already thanking you.
- Have discipline when using Credit Cards
It’s easy to spend money we don’t have. It’s easy to want to buy new clothes, things for our homes or even experiences. If you cannot afford it, you should not be spending it. I feel like my mom is standing over me even while I write this: it’s not worth being a slave to your credit card bill. I’ve been there, and wow was it one of the most stressful times of my life. If you can control your spending when using a credit card and make the monthly payments, then a credit card may work for you. However, if you struggle with spending, then a credit card may not be the best approach. Credit cards have a lot of great perks, such as building credit but can also negatively impact your finances if not used appropriately.
When determining if credit cards are right for you, stick with whichever option you know will promote your strongest financial fitness!
- Be realistic
When you’re in your twenties, it is easy to dream big and try and plan out what you want your future to look like. Whether that be buying a home or getting a new car, you need to be realistic. Most twenty something’s are beginning the stages of buying their first home, which by definition is a starter home. It’s okay if your first house or first apartment wasn’t styled by Chip and Joanna Gaines; it’s your first place. Be realistic about what is important to you at that point in your life.
- Make a plan
Make a plan, set goals, and achieve! I know it sounds extremely corny, but this is important. Plan to buy a home someday, plan to buy a new or new to you car, plan to have an emergency where you will probably have to drain all of your savings. It doesn’t hurt to do help yourself and start planning for these things now.
For example, someday I dream of owning a sailboat. Currently, I am nowhere near achieving this goal. However, each pay period I put $2.00 into a savings account I have specifically designated that someday will become my sailboat fund. It may seem silly but this is a way to plan and prepare for your future.
Plan for your monthly expenses by creating a budget and stick to it. It doesn’t have to be strict, but make sure you are accomplishing what is important to you. Some people need to pay down debt while others are trying to buy their first home. Whatever your goal may be, you can do it!