You’ve heard it before: your 20’s are supposed to be the best time of your life. But you can’t help but wonder how am I supposed to enjoy them when I’m broke?
Nobody promised your 20’s would be the richest time in your life—just the most fun. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps toward fiscal responsibility during this turbulent decade.
Read on for our Top Four Tips and Tricks for Making the Most of Your Money in your 20’s below:
#1 Build Credit
So many important purchases in the US require proof of good credit, yet many people in their 20’s have yet to develop strong credit scores. While not having any debt may feel fiscally responsible, this can actually hurt you in the long run (what a backward system, right?).
A great way to build credit early on is by opening a credit card and using it for small purchases like apartment decor. Find a credit card company with flexible approval qualifications, like a Discover card or a student credit card. These cards will typically have a low line of credit, which will stand between $500 and $1000.
Once you’re approved, you can begin building. Use your card for things you’re confident you can afford and pay off these purchases over time. Paying your bill when it’s due and keeping your revolving utilization (how much money you’ve spent on the card) low will help you build credit.
Building credit is moderately easy as long as you check your balance frequently and spend wisely—not to mention, it’s a great way to begin your journey to financial independence.
#2 Start a Savings Account
Starting a Savings Account isn’t as challenging as it sounds.
Think about your leftover income at the end of the week. What do you do with it? Sure, having money to blow can be fun, but at a certain point, the excitement of buying everyone at the bar drinks can start to wane.
Choose a percentage of your paycheck each week that you feel comfortable depositing into a savings account. It doesn’t have to be large—even $20 a week is almost $1,000 a year. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, and you don’t have extra income, that’s okay too. Examine your budget, see if there are any weekly expenses you can cut down, and put some of that money aside into a savings account.
If you aren’t able to do this, that’s okay too! Keep working and building, and wait for the day you can. It’s never too late (or too early) to start saving.
#3 File Zero Dependents
In your 20’s, you’re probably not going to be making the big bucks. If you’re single and childless (as many people in their 20’s are), and you have a low-paying job that you want to get the most out of, claim zero dependents on your taxes. This will ensure you get the biggest tax return at the end of the year, and you won’t owe the government any money.
Filing taxes if you owe the IRS can be stressful, and it’s difficult to come up with a lump sum of cash to pay it back all at once. Make Tax Day easier on yourself by claiming zero dependents throughout the year.
#4 Learn to Cook and Plan Your Meals
Eating out is a luxury that we all deserve, but many 20-somethings struggle to find balance when it comes to meals.
It seems as though every person in their 20’s is walking a tightrope that dangles between wasting money on takeout and starving off an instant ramen diet. Beat this trend by learning how to cook for yourself. Not only is cooking your own meals a necessary life skill, but it’s also a major money move.
Think about the last meal you ordered on PostMates. The food most likely cost anywhere from $15 to $20—not an outrageous sum, sure. But if you take a look at your final total, it usually jumps up to anywhere from $30 to $50. Delivery fees, taxes, and tips can make your monthly food budget bulkier than a sandwich with excessive toppings (why is avocado always extra?).
Now, compare the inflated price of delivering food to the cost of groceries—depending on where you live, a week’s worth of groceries for an individual can be as low as $50.
You can make even bigger savings by shopping strategically—buy in bulk, meal prep, and plan recipes with overlapping ingredients to cut costs and ensure you don’t waste any of the food you buy (because flushing money down the toilet isn’t good for your apartment’s plumbing).
Your 20’s Matter
While you may not reach the peak of your financial goals in your 20’s, it’s important to recognize that this is a time to build. There will be many jobs, many lessons, and (probably) even more mistakes—but that all comes with the territory.
Make the most out of this tumultuous yet exciting decade. As you figure out how to deal with this thing we call life, make sure you’re making money moves along the way!