We all have goals — whether they’re related to health and wellness, personal achievement, relationships, or careers. In our 20s, while finances might seem like the last thing we want to focus on, there are some financial goals to set in your 20s that are really quite important. By setting these goals and working to achieve them in your 20s, you can find yourself feeling a lot more financially stable — and perhaps even happier and more stress-free — as a 30-something.
Keeping up with finances can be daunting at this age, as many times things like rent, utilities, student loans, and credit card bills can seem to completely monopolize each and every paycheck. If you’re struggling to find money to go grocery shopping or pay for gas, you might be left wondering how you will ever be able to find the finances to start saving. However, as we’ll discuss in this article, by keeping a close eye on our finances and tracking them, cutting back here and there, and being sure to find the right job, we can work to give ourselves a little more flexibility when it comes to money. If you set and stick to your financial goals you might even find you’re able to book that vacation you’ve always wanted to take or that you are more than ready to ink a check to buy your very own home with an excellent interest rate. To help get you on the right track, I’ve rounded up some insight into goal-setting below. Here are 11 financial goals to set in your 20s.
1. Secure The Right Job
Of course, we all want to have a job we love. I asked a friend about this this morning, and she said in her dream world she’d be living on a beach in St. John making bracelets. However, at the same time we need to be mindful of the amount of money we’d be making doing these dream jobs and how that compares to things like our cost of living and future life goals (e.g., purchasing a home). According to the experts at Kiplinger, when choosing a career path be certain to do plenty of research on it before committing. Also, if you end up changing career paths down the road (which plenty of people do), you’ll need to have your finances in order so that you can stay on budget during the transition.
2. Prevent Having To Live Paycheck To Paycheck
Living paycheck to paycheck might seem inevitable at this point in your career, but consider making it a goal to reach a point where this is no longer the case. According to Huffington Post, at a certain point in your 20s you’ll want to get out of that spending-the-whole-paycheck mentality, and start to consider saving — even if it’s only in small amounts at the beginning.
3. Save, Save, Save
OK, on that saving point, let’s get into when and how to make it happen. Saving can easily become a part of your monthly finances at the point when you’ve gotten your salary to a comfortable place, according to U.S. News & World Report. The outlet spoke to Jean Chatzky, financial editor of the Today Show and author of Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security who said, “If you’ve gotten your salary up to the point where student loan debt is not wreaking havoc in your life anymore, but before you have a lot of responsibilities, that’s a great opportunity to super-charge your savings.” Chatzky added that timing is ideal for saving as it’s prior to having other huge financial responsibilities, like a mortgage and children.
How should you go about saving? My tried and true method of saving has been this: When I first started working post-grad years ago, I made it a point to put $10 a week away into savings. Every time I got a raise, I added to that number. Now, I try for $50 a week whenever possible. Also, I try to never touch that savings account, so I can have a nice chunk of change ready for me when I’m ready to buy a house.
4. And Don’t Forget About Saving For Retirement, Too
If you’re on the path to saving, you should also be thinking about retirement too, according to the Washington Post. If you’re thinking, “But, I’m in my 20s — why should I care about retirement?” I don’t blame you. It can be hard to wrap your head around it, but doing so can ultimately be incredibly beneficial. The outlet said if your company has a 401K plan, you should be taking advantage of it. What’s more, if your company matches your 401K contributions up to a certain percent, the outlet said you should be contributing enough to maximize the percentage they’re willing to match.
5. Start An Emergency Fund
Separate from your regular savings account should be an emergency fund. According to USA Today, you can start it small, let’s say about $500-$1,500. Then, over time aim to grow it a little more. If, for instance, you ever lose your job — this fund will be very valuable to you, according to the outlet.
6. Cut Costs Everywhere Possible
Whether you want to admit it or not, there are places you can cut back if you really want to excel with your personal finances. Do you buy coffee out every morning instead of making it at home? Do you say “yes” to every dinner invite you receive, even if you know it’s going to be a pricey meal? Try to nix these behaviors where possible. According to ThePennyHoarder.com, a very easy way to cut back is by finding a roommate if you live alone. Yes, perhaps you love the fact that the place is all yours, but is your bank account weeping every time you’re writing out your rent check? The outlet suggested those who are in this situation reevaluate bringing in a roommate. Hey, some really aren’t that bad!
7. Pay Off Your Consumer Debt
Those credit cards you opened in college to fund your entire wardrobe and social life (or was that just me?), try to pay those bad boys off sometime in your 20s. Kiplinger suggested coming up with a debt-repayment plan for this decade of your life so that you can move into your older years concerned with future finances rather than continuing to pay off all of those denim cut off shorts you couldn’t live without at age 21.
8. Polish Up Your Credit Score
Paying down that consumer debt is just one way of boosting your credit score — which you’ll want to be as pristine as possible. Other enhancing your score include being certain to pay your bills on time, and saying, “nah,” to the cashier at Gap when she pushes you to open a store card. According to Huffington Post, a good score can help you save potentially thousands of dollars when you’re going to get a mortgage, for instance, as you can secure a far better interest rate. It might not seem important now, but it certainly will be down the road.
9. Bring In Money Via Outside-The-Box Ways
AOL.com made a great point — even for those who are working full time, for some of us there are a least a few free hours a week available to do something extra. The outlet referred to this as finding a “side hustle.” This could help you bring in a serious amount of extra cash to add to that savings you’re doing, or to fund other activities you’ve been dying to do but haven’t been able to afford (looking at you, trip to Dubai). Grab a bartending shift once a week, or babysit your niece on Saturday mornings. There’s something simple yet profitable out there for you.
10. Track Your Funds Religiously
Life can get so hectic sometimes (especially if you’ve taken on that “side hustle”), so it can be very easy to neglect to make time to track and understand your finances. It’s an important thing to do in your 20s though, according to MSN.com. The outlet suggested staying organized perhaps by using a spreadsheet to track income, expenses, savings, and the like. This will make it really simple for you to see where you have wiggle room and where you don’t.
11. Continue To Reevaluate
According to TheMuse.com, throughout your 20s you’ll want to continuously reevaluate your finances and goals you’ve set. For instance, if you move to a new city and/or get a new job, this might change your financial situation, leaving you to have to rethink how much you’re putting into your savings account each week or month. The outlet suggested reevaluating as often as every quarter.
Being financially organized in your 20s can feel difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. By keeping some of these goals in mind, you can set yourself up for a very sound financial situation by the time you hit 30.
Images: Pixabay (12); Bustle