I’m 35. To teens, I’m ancient, to 20-somethings I’m an adult struggling to relate to them and to 40-year-olds, I’ve still got a lot to learn.
As you can probably tell, today’s post isn’t from me but from fellow frugalista Lauren Greutman, whose book, The Recovering Spender comes out today!
Her savings tips, laid out in these 4 financial steps, will (hopefully) help you avoid the need for “recovery” from your own financial choices, whether you’re in your 20s – or beyond.
My twenties are still recent enough that I remember them vividly. I remember experiences, fun times … and terrible financial choices.
I had multiple credit cards in college. I used them for everything from partying to textbooks.
When I was unable to pay them off, my grandpa stepped in to “help” me by paying them all off for me.
At the time I said, “Woohoo!” But now, I’m like, “What was he thinking enabling terrible spending habits like that?!”
I had a very “I want what I want, when I want it” attitude.
Although I knew debt was something I had to pay off someday, I knew that day was always going to be tomorrow… or so I thought.
Before my husband and I knew it, we were $40,000 in debt, upside-down in a quarter of a million dollar custom home and had a $1,000 spending deficit each month.
On top of that, I couldn’t tell you where 1 cent of that $40,000 was.
It’s not that is snuck up on me, it’s that I just chose to ignore it. I would swipe my cards until they were declined and then move on to the next one. What was I doing to us?!
I was living with my old college mentality while trying to raise our son and afford an over-the-top house. All to keep up appearances. But Grandpa wasn’t coming to bail us out this time.
It took us four years to dig ourselves out of debt. I’m proud that we were able to blast our debt so quickly. But still, it was four years. That’s a long time.
If I can convince you of one thing, it’s to be intentional with your finances in your 20’s when the world is telling you not to. You’re going to pay for it if you don’t… literally.
[tweetthis]Be intentional with your finances in your 20’s. Even when the world is telling you not to. [/tweetthis]
Here are 4 EASY financial steps you can take in your 20’s to better set yourself up for financial success in your 30’s and beyond.
This isn’t a complete list by any means, but these are things you can change right now and see an immediate change in your finances.
1. Learn how to cook
Most of the young adults I know spend so much money on food!
If you are going out to eat for dinner more than twice a week, learn how to cook. Groceries are so much cheaper than restaurants, and honestly, having a group of people over to your place while you cook can be more fun than going out together.
If you’re cooking is good, that’s even better! Ask them to chip in for some of the food. Just learning to cook and buying groceries for the vast majority of your meals will save you hundreds of dollars a month. Guaranteed.
And your food will be way healthier.
2. Make your own coffee
Coffee. It’s a belief system. A way of life. It is joy and comfort in a cup. It is also REALLY expensive from that trendy coffee shop you love. Brewing it yourself at home can get you a cup of coffee just as good.
Did you know that you can get 36-8oz cups of coffee from one pound of beans?
So, if you bought a pound of quality whole-bean coffee and paid $15, that works out to 41 cents per cup.
That’s quite a bit less than $2-$3 a cup. And if you want to get real crazy (like my husband) you can roast your own coffee at home. It’s amazing coffee and we pay about $6 a pound. That’s 16 cents a cup!
Let’s do some more math: $2/cup twice a day from the coffee shop x 7 days a week for a month is $112 /month on coffee.
Also, if your coffee was home roasted and awesome, I bet you could get a couple people you work with to buy it from you for like $1 a cup each day. Set something up where you bring them delicious coffee every morning, they save money by buying it from you. You get to make money and support your coffee addiction. Boom.
Yes, making your own coffee might not make you a millionaire. But it’s an example of something that you might spend money on daily that you can easily do yourself and save a lot. It all adds up!
3. Contribute A LOT to your 401k
As Stefanie explained so well just recently, even though it is more difficult than it was for previous generations, Millennials need to make saving for retirement a priority.
You might be battling a mountain of student debt, rising living costs and stagnant wages. But even during these battles, get your 401k contributions going. Maybe you’re already contributing enough to the get the maximum match from your employer… why not do more?
“Man, I should have spent more money on stuff over the years instead of sacrificing a little bit more for the sake of my retirement.” – said no 57-year-old ever.
Seriously. You are doing ‘future you’ a huge favor by investing extra in that 401k (or 403b, or IRA) NOW. This is one decision you will NEVER regret.
4. Learn something new
When I was little, we had no internet, no Super Nintendo, no home computers… but I did have a rotary phone in the kitchen.
By the time I got to college, everyone had computers, cell phones (dumb phones), internet and free Napster. Technology exploded! It ruled.
Take an interest in things that you could possibly monetize down the road or could make you more marketable to your next employer. Research eCommerce. Take online courses. Ask experienced people questions. Read useful books. Build a knowledge base that you can turn into wisdom through experience. You never know when it will come in handy.
That same 57-year-old with the healthy 401k never wished they learned less in their 20’s.
Take it from someone who was terrible with money in her 20’s and paid the price…
Make intentional decisions with your finances NOW! It will establish good habits so that when the machine of life is plowing forward, you’ll be able to look back and give 24-year-old you an acknowledging nod instead of a glare of disapproval.
In my book, The Recovering Spender, I tell my story of overspending – how I got my family into $40,000 of debt, what happened when I broke the news to my husband, and then I give you the step-by-step plan we used to become completely debt-free in 4 years.
Learn from my mistakes, implement these easy financial steps now so that you can have more money later!