“I grew up living a privileged lifestyle. When my dad found out I was going to be a teacher, he said, ‘I think that’s an excellent choice, but you have to realize right NOW that you will never again live in the comfort you’ve become accustomed to. Learn right now how to live within your means.’ I didn’t. I am still paying off HUGE credit card debts. And sure, I spent thousands over the years on my classroom, but most other spending was just stupid — I was trying to live like I had growing up, and I refused to see the reality in what he’d told me. I’m doing better now, but I have no savings.”
“I didn’t realize so many people had generational wealth or that it was even a thing. You might be in your twenties trying to live the same lifestyle as your friends, not knowing that they’re getting their education and rent or mortgage paid for. I’m in my early thirties, adrift, and wishing I’d saved earlier. Look after your future as early as you can to give yourself the best chance. Good luck.”
“Open up a Roth IRA (individual retirement account) in college and make automatic deposits monthly. Even contributing just $25 a month is better than nothing.”
“Get the cheap drinks, the cheap food, and the cheap clothes in your early twenties, and save the rest. You’ll have plenty of time for indulgence later on. Get a zero-interest credit card and use it sparingly to begin building your credit history.”
That’s not to say you should feel guilty for saving up for a splurge-worthy item you know you’ll use all the time or spending a little more on a nice dinner. Moderation can help you balance the desire to treat yourself with the need to save money. If you’re on the fence about what’s worth taking the plunge to purchase, try waiting it out and thinking about whether or not you really want the item in question. If you no longer care about it three days later, save the money.
“Don’t buy something just because it’s cheap, but also don’t assume that something is better and will last longer just because it’s more expensive. Sometimes cheaper items don’t work as well or last as long, and you’ll end up spending more money than if you’d paid a few more dollars to begin with. Do your research and ask people for advice! Shop around, compare prices, look out for good deals, stock up when possible, and read reviews!”
“My parents couldn’t afford to pay for college, so I worked full time, got scholarships, and took out loans. I don’t regret taking them out, but I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. Also, just being financially educated on topics such as APR and credit cards would’ve help me tremendously.”
If the realm of student loans confuses you, you aren’t alone! Here’s a handy article detailing the types of student loans that are out there, as well as what other college funding options you may have.
“If $10K will cover your tuition, fees, dorm, etc., and they offer you $15K in loans, see if you can reject the extra $5K unless you REALLY need it. Would it be nice to have? Absolutely. Will it suck to have to pay off more down the road plus interest? ABSOLUTELY. I didn’t realize this until I was on my next-to-last undergrad semester — I could’ve saved myself probably $10K or more if I’d known this right off the bat.”
“Student loans are real debt that you have to pay back. It doesn’t matter that ‘everyone has them’ and that they are ‘good debt.’ Apply for as many scholarships as possible if you’re going to college. It’s not that you shouldn’t take out student loans, but you should take them seriously, and try to make it out of college with as little loan debt as possible.”
“Credit cards eventually have to be paid off, so if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. I used to use my credit cards to buy things I couldn’t afford and would make the minimum payments each month. I didn’t realize I was getting destroyed with interest charges and other fees.”
Budgeting can feel a little daunting, but finding an easy-to-follow template that works for you is a great start! To kick things off, here’s a selection of useful budgeting products and tips and some bullet journal spreads that’ll help you track your finances.
“When you’re grocery shopping, just buy the store brand of whatever item you were going to buy. This is a small thing but it really adds up in the end. Ninety percent of the time, the product is the same as the name brand item.”
“Going to community college could save you tens of thousands of dollars if you get an Associate’s degree before continuing your education at a four-year university. Don’t waste your money paying for a name.”
“If I could do it over, I’d go to community college for the first two years. You may miss out on some of the typical ‘college experiences,’ but you’ll probably save tens of thousands of dollars, which will make life a lot easier in the future.”
“Make sure you don’t quit a job until you have another one lined up. You never know what the economy is going to do or how long it’ll take you to find a new job.”
“Avoid taking out a loan at the last minute, like opening a credit card to pay bills, or taking out a payday loan. It’s not worth it — you could end up borrowing more to pay off the debt and may never get out of the spiral. Any borrowing should be methodically considered and slept on first. If it comes to it, paying an overdraft fee or eating humble pie and asking a trusted friend or family member to loan you some money until your next paycheck will be healthier in the long-run compared to last-minute debt.”
“Before committing to someone, make sure you have discussed money! Once you start sharing accounts, disparities in saving and spending will become glaring issues if you aren’t on the same page. Take off the rose-colored glasses! Also, forego the expensive wedding. It’s something that everyone glamorizes. My wedding was one of the best days off my life. But when it’s over, you realize you could’ve just used the money to buy a car or put a down payment on a house.”
Speaking of weddings, check these smart money-saving ideas you can use to plan your big day.
“Make good financial decisions with bonuses and pay increases — either save the money or use it to pay down debt. My first bonus was spent on clothes and stuff I don’t even remember instead of on my student loans! My second bonus went toward my IRA and has allowed me to grow it for my future.”
“If you are lucky enough to get along with your parents, live with them as long as you need to in order to save money for a home deposit. DO NOT RENT if you can help it. I still lived with my parents at 27, but it allowed me to put down one-third of the value of my home as a deposit. It got me out of the first-time buyer rates and allowed me to pay a mortgage that is HALF of what I would have paid if I were renting the place.”
“Max it out if you can. You probably aren’t going to miss the $20–$50 from your paychecks.”
“When your job offers you a 401(k), take it. If they offer a match (i.e., they will contribute the same percentage as you do), max out the match. It’s literally free money for your retirement.”
“If you can, don’t let your student loans go into default. I did this right after college because I couldn’t make my payments, and it severely ruined my credit. I spent years getting it back on track.”
According to the Federal Student Aid website, a loan is considered to be in default if you don’t make a payment for at least 270 days. If you’re having trouble making payments, they recommend getting in contact with your loan servicer for help.
“Building credit is great, and using credit card points for cash back and miles is a good strategy, but only if you’re paying your card off and not accruing interest charges. Write out your annual, quarterly, and monthly financial goals. Also, write out the purchases you want to make, and prioritize them. It’s really easy to get caught up making impulse purchases when you aren’t thinking about how it impacts your longer-term goals. When it’s written out, refreshed frequently, and kept top-of-mind, it’s easier to stick to.”
“Be honest with your friends and family if a dinner out, spa day, or trip is out of your budget. Chances are, they might not be able to really afford it either! COVID forced many of us to enjoy the simpler things in life. Go on a hike together, make a meal at home together, or play games. I’ve never gotten more enjoyment out of an activity with a loved one purely because it cost more money.”
“If you live in a city, it can be tempting to Uber everywhere instead of taking the bus, but even using Uber Pool is way more expensive than using your monthly bus pass. Plus, using public transportation will allow you to get to know your city so much better. Save Uber rides for things like avoiding driving drunk or getting home late at night. It’s a luxury.”
“You probably aren’t going to just suddenly master money and finances. I’ve been out of college for five years, and this year is the first time I’ve felt comfortable with my finances. I had to learn how to use a credit card responsibly and realize that I couldn’t eat out all the time or buy anything I wanted even though I was ‘an adult’ — I had to do a lot of growing. My first few years, I had no savings. I literally used to put my rent money in my savings account to make sure I didn’t spend it all by the end of the month. However, I eventually began putting a small percentage of my monthly paycheck into my savings account, and now I actually have money saved.”
News – 22 Money Mistakes Millennials Hope Gen Z’ers Avoid