Starting out in the real world after college with a new job, student loans to pay, bills, and other responsibilities, is a tough transition for twenty-somethings.
Learning how to handle your money for the future is a challenge. Confused with what to do, when to do it, and how to plan for your life ahead, many of us don’t even know where to begin. We struggle between living in the moment and making smart financial decisions for our futures.
For instance, paying off your student loans payment is most important instead of attending a three day music festival, but dang, wouldn’t that festival be fun!
The first way to start growing up financial is to get comfortable living off of your own money no longer mooching off of mom and dad’s bank account.
In order to handle my money for the future and still have fun, I live by these few tips:
1. Distinguish Wants vs Needs
Buy less and choose well. In order to handle your money for the future, distinguishing needs verses wants is a good place to start.
Let’s start with needs. Needs include: items such as payments, bills, certain clothing, and things that are important in every day life like food. Moving on from late night pizza in college to home cooked meals will help save money (and your health).
Eating out has its convenience of quick and no mess to clean up afterward. Dining out every night isn’t ideal for saving money for the future. You don’t have to totally eliminate eating out, but if you cut it back to once or twice a week it will start to show in your bank account.
Dining in is a huge step to handling your money for the future. You don’t realize how much you spend on food, especially when you eat out. If you set an allowance per month of how much you want to spend eating out and how much you want to spend at the grocery store, you’ll be heading in the right direction.
Wants are more catered to impulse buying and just wanting it for the sake of having it. New clothing every week or new gadgets are items you wouldn’t purchase on a whim just because you want it. For example, you will want to plan out your necessities, and take into account how much you will have left to purchase that new TV.
Moving forward in life, you will start to realize that you don’t need that new pair of shoes you just saw on your favorite Instagram account. You will start to notice your bank account(s) accumulating when you start being smart with your money such as: paying for student loans in order to get rid of them as quickly as possible, paying rent, paying bills, and making room for the wants every now and then.
2. Create a Budget
With a budget, you’re able to be organized, prepared, and smart with your money. The word budget to us twenty-somethings sounds terrifying because we would much rather spend our money otherwise on fashionable items, technology, and Starbucks specialty drinks. All of those suck up your money quicker than you think.
In order to budget your money for the future, you should create a budget that allows you to spend, while you save.
Sitting down and creating a budget with spreadsheets is the first step. Creating those spreadsheets will enable adjustments as you get older and start making more money.
Alongside spreadsheets, I use the Mint app. Mint manages your personal finances all in one place. You’re capable of tracking your credit cards, loans, investments, and monthly spending with the budgeting features. Once you’ve set up the app on your device, Mint divides all of your spending into categories that you’ve created. How neat!
I love the organization and planning out the months of where my money is going. Three big categories that it goes towards are my student loans, investing in my 401K, and store bought food. Being able to see your credit score, along with how much you’ve spent in the various categories, draws an easier picture of what you’re actually spending. The app will help you handle your money for the future by making your life easier.
3. Invest and Save
One great way to handle your money for the future is to invest. Investing your money in several ways, while you’re in your twenties, is only helping you out for the future.
Let’s say a 20 year old puts in $1,000 for 20 years and a 30 year old puts in $2,000 for 10 years. Each are both investing $20,000 into their fund until they are 40 years old. Over the period of time, each account accumulates 6% interest. At the end of the investment period, the 20 year old will have made about $39,000 opposed to the 30 year old that made about $28,000. The lesson: Start saving now!
Types of accounts to invest in are:
– 401(K) (retirement through your employer, taxes paid upon withdrawal)
– Roth IRA (retirement through yourself, taxes paid upon deposit)
– Pension plan (through select employers)
– Mutual Funds
– Stocks and Bonds
There are various investment management companies out there, but I invest with Vanguard. Vanguard offers personal accounts and retirement funds. One that I’m familiar with is the Roth IRA account for retirement. I set aside some of my paycheck each month that is designated specifically to my retirement funds.
Starting my retirement fund in my twenties will accumulate interest over time, such as the example above. If you want to figure out your plan and play around with numbers, you can check out this financial calculator. Investment funds will help you save and handle your money for the future.
Most of us have heard the phrase, “You must make money to spend money.” Being a twenty-somethings, you have many options to make money: saving, investing, and making wise decisions. Spending your money will come down to whether you need to spend it or not.
By following these few tips, you will be in control of your money situation, while setting a positive financial status for the future.