I wanted to do a different kind of post today. Specifically, I wanted to try an article that just consisted of a very basic list.
I’m going to talk about 20 things I think all people should do in their 20s for a better financial future. Though I won’t expand much on each of them here, check out for future posts where I’ll go more in-depth.
Here we go:
1) Create a Budget
This is pretty simple. Create a budget – any budget. There’s probably hundreds, if not thousands, of different kinds out there. Try a few and see what works the best for you.
2) Stick to Your Budget
So you’ve created your budget, now you have to stick to it! I recommend using an app like Mint to make it easier to track and make sure you’re staying on top of it.
3) Create a Plan to Pay Off Your Student Loan Debt
Lots of my friends just graduate college, make minimum payments on their student loans, and don’t do much more. Take a few hours, research your options, and come up with a plan that makes sense for you. This might be a way to pay it off faster, a way to save (like refinancing), or even using different repayment plans that fit your financial situation.
4) Avoid Getting Into More Debt
It’s way too easy to get yourself into debt nowadays – especially with credit cards that have interest rates over 20%. Know how credit cards and loans work and don’t let yourself fall into a hole.
5) Start Building Credit
If you didn’t start in college, start now. Your best bet is probably with a credit card. See here for more.
6) Start Saving for Retirement
Plain and simple, the sooner you start saving and investing in your future, the more interest works in your favor. Whether it’s with a 401k that your employer offers or something on your own, start as soon as possible.
7) Look Into Different Kinds of Investing
There are many ways you can invest and grow your money. Looking into stocks, real estate, peer-to-peer loans, or anything else that peaks your interest. The possibilities are endless!
8) Create an Emergency Fund
When you’re young and healthy, it can be hard to consider preparing for an emergency – but eventually one will come. Try to save up around 6 months of money to live off of (with no other income) incase something terrible happens.
9) Make Sure You’re Insured
If you have a job, you probably have some type of insurance through your employer – but not everyone has a job. Either way, whether through your parents plan or on your own, make sure you’re insured. It’s not worth it not to be.
10) Teach Yourself How To Be Frugal – Even If You Don’t Need To Be
Like I mentioned above, you never know when you will be tight for money. If you teach yourself how to be frugal (i.e. living off less than $50 a week), you can be prepared for tough times. Even better, it will help you appreciate the things you do have more (Stoicism, anyone?).
11) Buy Quality Things That Will Last Awhile
This is something I struggle with a lot. I try to save money by buying the cheaper, yet lower quality item. I think it’ll last if I take care of it, but eventually the inevitable happens and those threads start coming loose or a piece of the item breaks. Though there is definitely a time to buy cheap, it will be worth it in the long run to invest in some quality items that will last.
12) Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
Once you have your budget, you should be able to see where you’re spending money unnecessarily. Try to cut these out of your life, if you can. An example (yes, I know it’s cliche at this point) is that $5 Starbucks coffee you drink every morning.
13) Sell Old Stuff You Don’t Need Anymore
Trying to find some extra money to put towards your student loan debt? Sell that old shit you don’t use anymore!
14) Self-Teach Yourself Personal Finance 101
Too many people get through high school and college without ever taking any kind of personal finance course. Take some time to learn about credit, credit cards, investing, loans, other financial products, and the many other personal finance topics that will help you out for the rest of your life.
15) Make Sure Your Accounts Are Secure
You likely have at least 100 different logins online and in apps. Change your password from something else other than “password123” or “(insert dog name)(insert birthdate)” and maybe even set up 2-factor authentication. You can really find yourself in a tough spot if you get hacked.
16) Considering Expensive Upcoming Life Events
Your 20s and early 30s are full of expensive events. Your wedding, honeymoon, friends’ weddings, children (!!), buying a car, buying a house, etc., etc. Be sure to look ahead to these events and start saving now.
17) Find a Side Hustle
As I’m sure many other bloggers would agree, I think it’s pretty rewarding to push yourself outside of your day-to-day job to find some other ways to make money. There’s tons out there from blogging to creating affiliate websites to driving for Uber. Look out for an article with more ideas coming soon.
18) Don’t Let the Pursuit of Money Make You Miserable
It seems that so many people get caught up in trying to make money that they spend day after day doing something they hate. Why? Is that extra money really worth it dreading 5 days (or more) of the week? I don’t think so. I’d rather find something I’m passionate about and enjoy instead. The money will work itself out eventually. You can’t get wasted time back.
19) Set Some Financial Goals
Study after study has shown that setting goals gives you a better chance at achieving something. Why not set some financial goals? Where do you want to be financially in 5 years? 10 years? Maybe you want to have enough passive income to retire by 35. Maybe you want to have $50k saved by the time you’re married. Think about what’s important to you and go after it!
20) Help Others – Even If It’s a Little
There are people out there in worse situations than you – financially and in other ways – and often because of things they can’t control. Try to set aside some money to help a cause that you’re passionate about.
Whether you’re a 20-something like me, in your 70s, or anywhere in between, what tips do you have for young adults – financial or otherwise? Comment below!