The Worst Things to Do With Your Money in Your 20s
When it comes to finances, your twenties are as much a time for learning what to do as what NOT to do. Across the board, general consensus amongst industry professionals seems to carry a common thread: these years are a time for planning ahead and transitioning into your adulthood – while still enjoying the moment. We’ve looked to the professionals for some insight on the fundamentals of working your money management skills to their best use while navigating through your twenties.
Here's your easy-to-follow guideline for making it through your twenties – with some savings to spare:
Attention to detail – always read the fine printAlways know what you’re signing. As you get older, more and more documents – specifically those related to your finances – are going to require your signature, and your close attention. Part of becoming an adult is the knowledge that almost everything has a fine print – you just have to know where to look. Attention to detail is paramount when managing your finances, and it’s up to you to ask the questions and comb through the tiny text to ensure you are always up to speed. Getting the information now will spare you additional costs in backtracking down the road.
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Profit over everything: choosing a job for the quick take and not the potential for long-term gainsA higher pay bracket should never be the determining factor when saying “yes” to a job. Bigger considerations like long-term potential for growth, stability and personal interest should always take priority over the short-term payoff of a higher initial salary. This isn’t to say money isn’t a consideration, but if you actively search for a job that checks off more than just the one box, you’re less likely to regret your choice down the road.
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Losing sleep over a lack of savingsOdds are the idea of saving money has been instilled in you from an early age, thanks to parents and family members who have the experience to understand the value of a safety net. Saving your money wherever you can is without a doubt a major part of establishing a solid financial plan, but it’s also not something you should lose (too much) sleep over. Don’t beat yourself up if your saving’s account is a few zeros short of where you’d like it to be. Do what you can and stick to it; consistency will see your money grow – and in the meantime, give yourself some credit for knowing the value in your actions and having the maturity to start now. You’re putting in the work, and doing your best – and that’s nothing to feel bad about.
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Spending all of your savings on your weddingHere comes the bride…bankrupt and tired? Do yourself a favour and avoid the “wedding trap.” You know, where you and your significant other spend every dime on the wedding of your dreams; leaving your marriage to start off to a financial nightmare? Yes, this is an occasion worthy of a splurge – but instead of spending every dime without a thought, plan ahead. Select the areas of your special day that are the most important to you, and warrant the splurge. So where you might go all out on the cake, aim to stick to your budget on the flowers. It’s a give and take, but if you go about it the right way, you won’t find yourself drowning in debt as soon as the honeymoon’s over.
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Spending to keep up with the social media JonesIt’s natural to want to put your best foot (or selfie) forward when doing the rounds on social media, but never lose sight of reality. In real life, things are not as glamorous – or filtered – as they seem on platforms like Instagram; where it’s easy to pit ourselves against the seemingly perfect and ultra-luxurious lives of the people we follow. You are not in competition with these people, nor do you know what their lives are truly like beyond the glimpses they choose to share. Don’t lose sleep – or spend foolishly – trying to match a lifestyle that, for all you know, isn’t real to begin with. Always be authentic and realistic of your own situation. You alone know what your financial boundaries are, and you alone set the limits for your indulgences.
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Not networkingSocializing for the sake of socializing and networking with intention are two very different things. While time spent socializing recreationally is an important part of living a balanced life, you’re going to find an integral part of “adulting 101” will be engaging with others for the purpose of networking. Networking with intention relates to socializing with others with a focused purpose, such as establishing a relationship that may help with your career goals. Networking with people who have connections or experience that you can learn from is vital to your personal and professional growth, and will consequently impact your finances positively in future.
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Not setting long-term goalsPlanning for the future is about more than daydreams and deep discussions over a bottle of wine. You’ve got to put your money where your mouth is, and that means putting these future plans into action by setting the right things in motion now to help you in the long-term. Look ahead – where do you see yourself in the next year? The next five years? The next 10? Understanding what you want will allow you to lay the groundwork now in planning what you need to do – and how much you need to save – to get you there. Not sure where to begin? Seek out a financial planner or advisor (either at your bank branch or through a trusted referral) and get the information you need to begin crafting a future that you can bank on.
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Not paying off student loansThe only downside to completing your formal education is often the mountain of debt that awaits you on the other side. This can be overwhelming – but don’t ignore it! There’s no shame in debt – and as an adult, you’re going to be expected to face it head-on and begin working towards a clean slate for your finances. Be realistic about your payments; the key to eliminating debt is consistency. Ensuring that your payments are made each month without fail will get you on track toward paying them off, and avoiding added interest. It’s a tough road, but the sooner you begin working to clear the path, the sooner you can start fresh!
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