7 Ways To Not F*@k Up Your 20s
The first thought for every 20-something college grad this year? FREEDOM!
For the first time in your life, you're in complete control and the world is your oyster.
With it comes an endless supply of hopes, dreams, and...entitlement. Yep, it's true. In your 20s, you honestly believe you know better than anyone else. That obnoxious arrogance and cockiness you have? It just happens. You've got a pep in your step that anyone who isn't in their 20s wish they still had. So party on.
To help you keep it together in this decade of your life (and become a millionaire by the time you hit 30)*, I've put together this essential guide for your 20s.
*okay, you got me - this is totally an exaggeration, but not impossible!
1. NOPE - the super hot guy/gal is not into you
Sure, they'll flirt with you all night, but they're probably just not into you. It's them, not you, I swear! Why are they acting like that then? Every young adult wants to go out and have fun with their friends but as you probably already know, every young adult not-so-secretly wants someone else to fund the ride. This is a classic way to mistakenly build up a pile of credit card debt.
It starts with you putting late night shenanigans on your credit card, thinking there's lots of time to pay it off, but eventually, it'll catch up with you and it won't be a fun realization. Before you dig yourself into a hole, pay off your credit cards and keep your spending in check.
2. Speaking of shenanigans - find a roommate
Not only will this help free up some of your cash flow, you'll also be able to get a much bigger place to have people over.
See if any of your friends from high school or college are living where you're headed and try to work out a living arrangement with them. If you don't have friends or family in the area, make sure you pick a roomie you can really get along with; you don't want your first year of freedom to be ruined with a roommate from hell. Talk about a party foul.
Really hate the idea of having a roommate? Consider this: the average college student will have to pay back $25,000 in student loans, which is no small amount of money. Consistent late payments or missing payments altogether will not only wreak havoc on your credit score, but you'll also end up with larger interest payments for big ticket items you may want to purchase in the future. Since you're young and have less responsibilities, take the money you'll save by having a roommate and get ahead on your student loan payments.
3. Help YOU Help YOURSELF
Once you get out into the real world, you get all the responsibilty that comes with it. Help yourself now by building an emergency fund (the earlier you can start the better). You've lived through a recession and have seen what can happen to the job market. Instead of living in fear that your job could be gone overnight, build an emergency fund for peace of mind.
The easiest way to do it is to put a portion of your income directly into a savings account. Ideally, you want to build it to cover six months of your expenses just in case you can't work, get laid off, or have some type of medical emergency.
By starting your emergency fund now, you won't need to worry about doing it in your 30s when other responsibilities come along. As an added bonus, whatever money you put away will continue to grow over time with interest. That's a win-win!
4. Don't give up spring break
That's right - you can still hold onto those cherished spring break trips, just like in college. Why? They're usually more affordable than other more expensive trips (like to Vietnam or Japan) and since you'll probably end up at some all-inclusive resort, you'll just be hanging out on the beach and not wasting additional funds on expensive excursions and whatnot.
Even if spring break isn't your thing, the point is that it's not in your financial best interest to spend over 10% of your yearly income on a vacation. Yes, I'm sure it will be awesome, but it travel costs add up quickly and it's better to save those trips for a few years down the road (unless you're already some travel hacking genius).
5. Stop b*tching - you are NOT old
You're really not that old.
Yes, your days of drinking to get rid of your hangover may be over, but you don't need to worry about making spreadsheets for retirement planning just yet. For now, just take advantage of a 401(k) plan (if your company offers them) or maybe start a Roth IRA fund. You can put off the serious research for a little while, but there's no reason to miss out on extra funds in your account each month. Your future self will thank you.
6. Invest in your body and mind
You’ll never be too old to invest in your body and mind, but starting while you're young is so much better (and usually easier). That "freshman 15" you never quite lost? The longer you wait, the harder it will be to lose it.
It's also important to keep your mind stimulated. Think about taking a coding course or some other online course that interests you. You never know, it might just help you develop contacts that could lead to your next promotion, or introduce you to a future business partner.
The only constant in life is that life changes, so make sure you're constantly changing for the better.
7. You think you're too cool...for a coupon
Newsflash: you can use coupons and Groupon and still be cool. Same goes for buying your designer duds at TJ Maxx or Marshalls. Seriously, no one will know the difference and you'll save a lot of dough. Also, you'll eventually realize that no one really cares.
So, look for discounts on anything you do or want to buy. You can search Groupon for travel deals, concert tickets, or even restaurant discounts. If you get into the habit of looking for discounts, the savings will add up quickly.
Many people who are older than you can buy the same things as you, but they realize that it isn't always a great use of their hard earned money. For instance, if your iPhone 5 still works, you don't absolutely need to upgrade to an iPhone 6. Save the extra money now and when the time comes for you to actually need a new phone, you'll be making a more sound investment. Start these habits young and your lifetime savings will be huge.