Walking into our twenties feels like we're stepping into our artificial glow of the "I'm grown, and no one can tell me nothing" phase; however, it's the decade we're prone to making the most money mistakes. What we do with our money in our twenties could also roll over into what we're doing in our 30s. And if you're not careful, your poor spending and saving habits can cost you in the long run.
Next thing you know, when you're ready to buy a home or car and they run your credit, and it looks horrible – you have no one to blame but yourself. Stepping into adulthood, we have to own our spending habits and pave the way to build financial wealth. It's never too late to change your money mistakes, but you have to be committed to following that plan instead of enabling those bad habits. Here's a list of things you may be doing now that you NEED to change ASAP.
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I know when we're young, we tend to think we're untouchable. Life won't shatter in our faces, but that's a false narrative; emergencies happen to all of us – despite our age. Though we may be committed to the jobs we work at, they aren't always committed to us when they have their personal quotas to meet.
So it's possible in some part of your life you can lose your job, and what happens next when you don't have the financial backing to depend on while you're job hunting? You should aim to have at least three months of living expenses saved in an emergency fund just in case that storm ever hits where you have no income and need some grace period money to get you off your feet. Start small and begin by saving $1,000 and then keep adding to it month to month until you have three months. Dave Ramsey has a great resource on how to quickly build your emergency fund. You can find that here.
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Learning to live below your means is the top tier secret to building wealth. I know the media plays a significant role in our spending habits as we see everyone do everything, and then we sit back and question why we aren't doing that too. Don't let comparison steal your joy and mislead you into financial ruin by living above your means.
No, you don't need every cute shoes you see or to say "yes" to every vacation your friends invite you to. You have to create a financial structure that will help you thrive in the long run, not just in the present. If you want that business, house, or car, it's not going to invest in itself; it needs your disciplined spending to build it.
Living off credit cardsSeason 4 Episode 6 GIF by The OfficeGiphy
Listen, y'all, credit cards can be life-saving when you're in a bind, and they can also ruin your life if you don't know how to manage them. According to WalletHub, Americans started the new decade last year by owing a collective $1 trillion in credit card debt. For those who have credit card debt, the weight of the financial burden can feel quite debilitating and it can sometimes be a hole that is hard for debtors to climb out of.
In fact, the more you owe on your credit cards, the harder it is to bring up your credit score, and oftentimes credit card companies do not raise your credit limit when you owe a balance. So in order to get ahead of credit card debt, pay more than the minimum payments, factoring in the interest cost to reduce the amount of credit card debt you will have and increase your credit score.
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The sooner you start investing in your 401k or other retirement accounts, the longer that money can accumulate interest and the more funds you'll have when you are ready to retire. Saving for your retirement doesn't have to start out big; you could start out at 22 years old with your first job, investing two percent of your income to retirement and increase that rate every year or every other year. So when you step into your thirties, you'll be at the healthy ratio of investing 10 to 15 percent of your income into your retirement funds.
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Monogamy is meant for relationships, not our careers. Don't over-commit to one job because when they need to cut their budgets or just feel like you don't fit their role anymore – they'll just let you go without warning. It's always great to have a side gig or several side gigs you can jump back into if things ever go south with your main job.
Don't burn the bridges of your side gig braiding hair, flipping homes, babysitting, dog sittings, etc. If you're a great chef, still cater events when you can; if you're a jewelry designer, work on designing your own pieces and selling them in your spare time instead of only focusing on your corporate jobs design line. Bringing in more income opens doors to invest more and build generation wealth, so those little side jobs can be investing in your child's tuition or buying that condo you have your eyes on.
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In our 20s and 30s, we're mainly focused on moving out of our parents' place and living independently in our new apartments. I didn't even know of renter's insurance until a year of living on my own. Some people may think it's pointless because what are the odds water damage or a lousy tornado will occur and ruin your place? Or the odds that someone breaks into your apartment and steals your laptop and TV? But it happens and if you stay ready, you don't have to get ready.
So now that you have the picture painted on the potential loss, that small monthly expense doesn't seem unnecessary; it becomes a no-brainer to have some sort of renter's insurance while living in your apartment. It's better to be covered just in case versus having to cover the expense of your things if they are destroyed or stolen.
Not having a financial plan when you move in with a partnerCouple Chillin GIF by Ryan TreyGiphy
Testing out the waters before marriage by living together is cute and all but you and your partner need to have the heavy conversations regarding finances. Deciding who pays what bill and how much of the rent you'll contribute, and more than anything, what you both are saving towards. Openly discussing your budget and spending habits helps to hold each other accountable to work on your credit scores, pay down debts, and entertain conversations like buying a house together and investing in vacations, babies, businesses, etc.
It may be an awkward conversation initially, but it's a conversation worth having to make sure you both grow together financially. If you find that you are not on the same pages financially, it might be worth holding off on cohabitating. Additionally, it might be useful to get something down in writing that covers the both of you if the relationship ends and you want to skip the potential mess of figuring out who lives where and if the lease will be broken.
Ladies, money mistakes are going to happen one way or another. But we have to start making big money moves by adjusting how we spend our money and what we invest in. It's never too late to stop those bad habits and create new ones to open the doors to financial freedom.
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