Last week, I shared 10 Life Lessons with you. These were some of the most important things my twenties taught me – some were humorous, some were serious, but every single one of them was something I’m so glad I had the opportunity to learn. I hope you’ve found some value (or at least a few laughs) in what my life experiences as a twenty-something had to teach me.
Accepting yourself for who you are and learning how to stand up for yourself are important lessons to learn – but there are also some more pragmatic and financially-oriented things that I came to understand in my 20s. Getting a grip on your money is hard when you’re starting out (and when you have all those life lessons to learn, too!) but the sooner you start making and effort to figure out your finances, the better off you’ll be. If you’re still struggling to pull your financial life together, I’m going to make it a little easier today by sharing my 10 Money Lessons that I learned in my 20s:
1. Make Emergency Savings a Priority
Because life happens and things don’t always go as you expect. Sometimes your fridge dies the same day that the basement drain backs up and when it does, you’ll turn a major emergency into a minor inconvenience.
2. Don’t Spend Money on a Brand New Car
Cars lose money the moment you drive them off the lot, which is why I bought a used hail damaged vehicle after my beloved 1997 Toyota Corolla kicked the bucket.
3. Don’t Start Your Marriage In Debt
Seriously. Don’t pay a ridiculous about for a wedding you can’t afford. Not worth it. I’ve seen too many couples spend years paying off a wedding reception and a beautiful wedding dress that they “had to have!” Remember that you’re in this for the marriage, not the wedding!
4. Career Advice: Go Big or Go Home
Don’t be afraid to take risks with your career. Millennials move jobs every few years and we may have a dozen different careers over our lifetime. Really ask yourself, what is the worst thing that could happen? Usually the worst thing that could happen really isn’t so bad, so go for it! Read why I think Entrepreneurship is the New “Job Security” for Gen Y. If you listen to my favorite podcasts, a reoccurring theme is that entrepreneurs view risk differently that most people.
5. Spend Money Traveling to Other Parts of the World
I have travelled to Thailand, Argentina, Mexico, Italy, Costa Rica, and a handful of cities across the U.S. This year, I found $412 RT airfare to Peru, so I’m headed to Manchu Picchu in April. I believe we live in a global economy and your ability to understand other cultures is imperative.
6. Spend Money on Experiences that You Will Never Forget
We love Cirque du Soleil and every time a new show comes to town we try to go see it. Tickets are expensive, but it’s always a memorable experience. My parents used to take me to the national tours of Broadway shows like The Lion King, Rent, Show Boat, and Les Miserables. These are some of my best childhood memories.
7. Start Saving for Retirement Today
Whether you decide to contribute to a 401(k) or a Roth IRA, it’s important to save for the future so that you have options, choices and flexibility later. You can thank me later.
8. Don’t Carry Credit Card Debt
If you’re in credit card debt, figure out a plan to pay it off ASAP. The high interest rate will keep you in a cycle of debt if you don’t come up with a plan right away. It’s one of the first steps in Building Financial Security for Gen Y. It’s difficult to get on track with your other financial goals if you have credit card debt dragging you down. After tracking your spending and slashing your monthly expenses, the next step is to earn more money.
9. Address Your Insurance Situation
Insurance is one of the most overlooked areas for Millennials. Insurance should help protect you against a catastrophic loss. This is why you need health insurance, auto insurance, as well as renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance. I’ve talked to quite a few people that don’t have the basics covered. If you have are a parent then you most likely need a 20 or 30-year term life insurance in cased you passed and needed to protect your family. However, I’ve also talked to a few Millennials recently that are WAY OVERINSURED! Please stop buying Whole life insurance policies from crazy insurance agents that convince you that you need it as an investment vehicle. (Read this article on Why Is My Broker So Eager to Sell Me Whole Life Insurance? ). Gen Y doesn’t need whole life insurance. Use insurance to protect against a major loss, and use investments for investing. Don’t combine the two.
10. Invest In Your Future
Whether you take a class or a course to learn a new skill or invest in your education, I truly believe that everyone should become a life learner. Allocate money towards becoming an expert on a topic, buying books, listening to podcast, and taking courses to expand your thinking. Whenever I invest my time and money into these things, it always pays off in the future. It’s also important to Invest In Relationships because they pay the highest dividends. By going to conferences, I’ve met great people that have helped me move my business forward or have even become clients. Check out how much fun I had hanging out with financial bloggers at #FinCon13. People often say, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” but I think it’s both.
Finding success with money and life comes when you use the unique skillset that you have to help people find a solution to a challenge in their own lives.