If you’re in your 20s, it’s likely you’re out on your own for the first time. Perhaps you feel like you’ve got it all under control and you know what you’re doing when it comes to your financial future. Or maybe you feel like you have no clue what you should be doing. While this is a time to still be more carefree before a growing family and a mortgage start to take hold, there are some things you absolutely should do to set yourself down the right path.
Here are five things every 20-something should do to set themselves up for success.
- Student Loans: If you took out loans for your undergraduate studies, pay them off as quickly as possible. Getting them off your plate early frees up your future income to pay for other things you may need. In your 20s, it can be hard to see how scrimping to get rid of the debt now will help you later, but when you’re ready to buy a home or start your family, even buy a car, you’ll be glad to have less debt.
- Education: Going for an advanced degree can be very beneficial, but only if you do it with a plan. Taking out student loans to pay for grad school just because you’re not sure what else to do will have you knee deep in debt by graduation and you may be no closer to understanding your career path. Before sending out those applications, make sure the degree with help you achieve a higher-paying job in your field, otherwise it may not be worth the expense.
- Budget: As soon as you have a job, set up a budget. Knowing where your money needs to go and how much you have left will help you avoid living beyond your means. It’s also important to protect your credit score by paying your bills on time, and having a budget can help ensure the money will be there when the bills come due.
- Debt: Racking up debt can have serious long-term consequences. Even small amounts can snowball when interest charges pile up, and you may find yourself not paying your credit cards off in full each month. A job loss, a car breaking down, or some other ill-timed event can leave you unable to make your payment.
- Overspending: Even if you’re just paying cash for everything, spending too much on unnecessary things sets up a bad habit that will be hard to break. Instead of spending everything you earn each month, set some aside for a rainy day.
The freedom of being done with college and having your first job or apartment can be exhilarating. Building responsible habits with your money now can save you from heartache in the future.
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