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If you’re in your 20’s, it can be tough to figure out where to start with your money and what you should be doing. I know that there is so much information out there and sifting through it all is difficult, so check out these 21 essential money moves for 20 somethings. Work through them and use them to benefit your personal finances!
Don’t focus on an amount to save
I see this question so often. “As a 20 something, how much money should I have saved?” This is very hard to make a blanket statement that everyone at certain ages should have one amount saved.
That is because everyone’s situation is so different.
If I know one thing about personal finance, it is that they are just that, personal. I would not focus on a certain amount that must be saved or anything like that, I would focus on getting a personal finance plan in place, work the plan and systematically reach your goals. So don’t worry too much about a number, worry about getting habits, goals and the right foundations in place.
Create money goals
What are your money goals? Do you want to have 5 houses? Maybe you want a huge investment account… whatever it is, make sure you take the time to write these down. I would suggest to you that you should make crazy wild goals. If you are just dreaming, that is fine for a short while.
Dreams don’t go anywhere and are eventually forgotten, but goals… goals are the first step to starting on an action plan. Work on your goals, write them down and focus on taking calculated steps towards them each day. Try thinking about your goals this way, what if ever goal you set, you eventually achieved? Would you have achieved something incredible? Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from setting your goals and writing them down.
Learn about money
There are so many incredible resources out there today that can give you a true wealth of knowledge. You can read books, read articles, watch videos, listen to podcasts, take eCourses, and I’m sure there are more ways!
Learn about money, find a plan you trust, that has helped so many others get to where you want to be, and follow it.
Learn about saving, investing, insurance, debt, retirement, making more money, side hustles, budgeting, and all the rest by seeking out the knowledge.
Assess your current situation
Where are you at with your finance right now? Do you have a good understanding of how to manage your money? This should definitely be a priority as you move forward in your life. Understanding money and how to handle it will be the foundation of the rest of your life. If you make good decisions now, no matter how small, they will lead to huge decisions that will really impact your life later on.
Create a solid foundation of habits
It is important to understand your habits and what you need to do to be better. Creating good routines, and habits will help you to stick to the goals and plans you have for your personal finances. Building habits of savings, or cutting back when necessary will increase your discipline as you continue on in life.
If you create a solid foundation of habits when you are in your 20’s, imagine the beneficial impact it will have in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond.
Everyone needs accountability! If you’re married, your spouse can be your accountability as you work on your finances together. Sometimes, married couples find themselves both very similar, such as both in the relationship lean towards being spenders or savers. Should that be the case, it is beneficial to find another couple that you trust and ask them if they would support you in staying accountable to the goals you have for your money.
If you are single, then find a friend you trust that will speak into your situation and tell you what you need to hear, and not always what you want to hear. Make sure that the accountability partner you choose is someone that is good with their finances, and is on the same page as you with the plan you’re working with your money.
The accountability can really keep you on track when things get tough, and keep you committed if you ever feel like giving up!
I mentioned learning about money earlier, but this goes beyond that. Did you know that 85% of millionaires read two or more books a month for self-improvement? It’s true, this statistic comes from a study done by Thomas Corley.
If that is the case… I want to be a millionaire, so I am going to read as much as I can!
Reading can broaden your knowledge, cause you to think differently, and really deepen your understanding of a multitude of things. The best part is that there is no shortage of books in this world!
Make a budget and use it
The budget is going to be the number one way you will win with money. It is always going to give you a clear understanding of what exactly is going on with your money, month-to-month.
If your financial success depends on spending less than you earn, then a budget is going to give you a clear plan of how to do that, each and every month.
Need help setting up a budget? Check out my blog post on 5 Simples Steps to Create a Budget.
Diversify your income
Why have only one income? There are so many opportunities to make money now, and quick ways too. Some ideas you can check out are on my Make More Money page.
You can start a side hustle, you can create a business, you can do so much. Think about diversifying your income so that if one goes away, you have others in place that will help you stay on your feet. Not to mention, more income is a great benefit!
Check out this book all about side hustles to get you started.
Have an emergency fund in place
Right now, most people cannot cover an emergency if it were to happen in their lives.
Check out this article that says according to a survey that 40% of adults can’t cover an emergency of $400.
Emergencies are not a matter of “if” they are a matter of when. If you do not have one in place, start right away and make it your goal to start with $1,000.
If you’re out of consumer debt, bump it up to more like 3 to 6 months worth of your expenses. This is a great place to be in when something happens because yes, the difficulty happened, but the money is not a worry for you.
Get rid of all your debt and keep it that way
Get rid of your car payment, student loans, everything! The reason for this is that the interest is working against you.
The debt payments are stealing your income.
When you have debt, you have less income. When you have no debt, you have more income. The goal is the create more freedom with our income so we can do more of what we want to do, like spend on fun things, save for the future, and invest in ourselves.
Learn about investing
Don’t put off investing and learning about it for later, that is a detrimental thing to do when it comes to one of the keys to making your money work for you… TIME.
Compound interest is a beautiful thing, and can really benefit you if you take advantage of it. Learn about what investing is, learn about stocks, mutual funds, risk, and more.
One of my favorite books on the topic of investing is Simple Wealth Inevitable Wealth by Nick Murray.
Work on your savings ability
Once you’re out of debt and have a nice emergency fund in place, you can start saving for things like a vacation, a house down payment, or something similar. Start thinking about how to save for these things.
Do some math and work backwards, for instance, if I need a $30,000 down payment for a house I want to buy, and want to have it in 2 years, I need to save $30,000 / 24 months = $1,250 per month for the next 2 years.
If you’re ready, start investing for retirement
What I mean by being ready is that you should be debt free, and have a nice emergency fund in place before starting to invest. The reason for this is so that you can devote more of your income to investing since it won’t be taken by debt payments.
Additionally, if you have no debt, that means that all the interest you earn is working for you, and you don’t have any interest working against you. Be sure to learn about the programs your work may offer, the matching programs they have and learn about IRA’s.
You will want to reach out to a Financial Advisor in your area that you trust to get you started. If you’re not quite ready for investing, use this desire to start as your motivation to get debt free, or build up your emergency fund!
I love this Chinese Proverb that says “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” No matter what age you are, it is a good time to start. Don’t get discouraged by feeling like you’re late or behind, just start!
Learn about insurance and purchase what you need
Insurance is incredibly important. It can protect you from bankruptcy and high bills. Learn about all of the different types of insurance there are. A good place to start would be to learn about the following:
- Health Insurance
- Term Life Insurance
- Identity Theft Protection
- Renters/Homeowners Insurance
- Long-Term Disability Insurance
Dream about where you’re going
What do you want your future to look like?
Wouldn’t you like to get to the end part of your life and look back and be proud of how big you dreamed and pursued those dreams? I would rather that, then looking back and wishing I had dreamt bigger. Dream HUGE and continually keep it in the forefront of your mind.
Walt Disney said it this way “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
Work on defining your passion
Someone once asked me, “if you were offered a $100,000 salary and your only job requirement was to attach paper clips to each other for 7 hours a day, would you take the job?” That job would be so boring. My immediate thought was I would rather make less money and do something I really enjoy! That is the power of passion… but the best part about passion is often when you are in your passion and actively pursuing it, the money often follows. In this case, it wouldn’t be like you were settling for a lesser job, but instead, being fulfilled and truly enjoying what you’re doing.
Find your strong points
Are you really good at the budget? Great! Keep working on that. Are you really good at making an income? Perfect! Focus on that. It is simply important to understand yourself, what you’re good at and continue improving it.
Many times we think we need to spend a lot of time focusing on what we are bad at, but alternatively, it is often more beneficial to us to make our strengths even better, than it is to perfect a weakness.
Understand your weaknesses (get help with them)
I know that we just discussed not spending a ton of time working on our weaknesses and instead focusing on your strengths, but it is worth keeping your eye on your weaknesses.
You may not need to perfect your weaknesses, but you need to always be aware of what they are. Maybe yours is budgeting and figuring out how to put everything together. You might be like me and your weakness is being an aggressive saver (I would do nothing fun if it was only me, my wife helps me spend!). No matter what your weaknesses are, it is important to understand them, learn them, and recognize them.
Once you do that, you can go out and find accountability with a friend who is the opposite of you in that area. Find someone good at budgeting to help you stick to yours. Find a spender that will help you get out of your house and do something fun every now and then.
Surround yourself with people that will help keep an eye on your weaknesses, so they never get out of hand and lead you off track.
Put a will in place
I know that thinking about things like this is not that fun. However, it is crucial to have in place as it will give clear expectations to everyone close to you. It will reduce the stress of those attempting to fulfill your desires after you are gone. Not to mention, if you are leaving money behind, or accounts, it will help keep it in the hands of those that you truly want it to.
A will is absolutely necessary for anyone over the age of 18. You can set up a will online really easily with US Legal Forms.
Learn to give money away
In my opinion, giving money away is the most fun we can have with money. it is one of my favorite things to do!
No matter where you are in your journey, whether you have debt, no debt, a big income, a small income, make it a habit to give a portion of your money away.
Being generous can absolutely impact your life in a positive way, check out this article that discusses a study that was done regarding this topic.