The Financially Fierce Twenty-Something
Our twenties are marked with exploration, discovery, and transitions. Many of us graduate undergrad and grad school in our twenties. We job-hop, make changes, and open doors to our careers. We travel often and vacation as much as our paychecks, girlfriends, and significant others allow. Our twenties is a period in which we are allotted an extra amount of time to roam the world before embracing parenthood or seriously “settling” down
By the time we reach thirty we realize many of the decisions and experiences of our twenties have laid the foundation for what the next several decades will look like. So, if we are making that much of an investment in our future during our twenties, it would do the same with our pocketbooks. If your twenties reveal that you are a true traveler, you really want to open up a chain of boutiques, or maybe you want three kids instead of one, then you are going to need to fund that future. Your twenties is a great time to start funding your future and here are a five ways you can do that.
Be financially savvy. Educate yourself about the world of finances. You should know the difference between net pay and gross pay, a 401k versus a 403b, and how interest works on credit cards and student loans. You should also know what a credit score is and more specifically what your credit score is. This is the time when yo0u want to build your financial knowledge and educate yourself about money, assets, depreciation and appreciation.
Get in the habit of saving. Your twenties are when you are most likely to have the most disposable income regardless of how much money you earn. Don’t dispose of it — save it! You don’t need to know exactly what you are saving for yet; the point here is just to get into the habit of not spending every penny you earn. Some people save a percentage of each pay or some select a specific dollar amount. Here’s one to try: the 52-week savings plan. For each week, you save that dollar amount. For example, during week 1, you save 1 dollar, week 39 you save 39 dollars and so forth. Figure out what works for you and start putting that money away.
Build your retirement fund. You may be 25 today, but one day you will be 75. You won’t be working, you will be retired, and what retirement looks like for you will depend on how well you have planned for it. This is the time to start contributing towards your retirement. If you are employed speak with your company about their retirement plans, including if they match what their employees contribute toward retirement. If you are self employed or work part time look into independent IRA accounts that you can use to save towards retirement. Capital One 360 (formerly known as ING Direct) has an IRA plan that you can contribute to that is not contingent upon the company by which you are employed.
Handle your debt, baby girl. There is good debt (i.e. the $47000.00 in student loans, etc.) and bad debt (i.e. the $5000.00 you owe Matsercard.). Decrease your bad debt as quickly as possible and start by paying down the debts with the highest interest rates. Consistently pay off your good debt. Pay all monthly bills so you can avoid paying additional money in late fees. Remember, paying off your debt frees up cash for you to do other things, like increase how much money you are saving each month, or the less bad debt you have to pay off, the quicker you can pay down your good debt.
Build your credit. Your twenties is the perfect time you can build your credit history and work towards a good credit score (700 or higher). Credit is EVERYTHING. Your credit score says to potential employers as well as lenders that you are a responsible individual. Your credit score may be considered when you apply for a job or when you go to apply for a small business loan or financing to buy your first home. During your twenties you want to make wise decisions that will lend itself to a positive credit score. If you don’t know your credit score, find out what it is. You build your credit by handling your debt, especially your bad debt.