Your 20s are all about learning to navigate through the world as an adult. And while this is a fun time of life, the importance of learning good financial habits can’t be overstated. Large debt accrued early in life can take years to pay off and slow down other financial goals you should be tackling in your 30s, 40s, and beyond. Avoiding the following five money mistakes can help young adults get a strong financial start to build their futures on.
1. Failing to Get Insurance
Insurance can feel like an unnecessary expense when you’re in your 20s, but skipping it is a financial mistake. The costs of unexpected medical bills can set back financial goals for years. It’s also important to consider other types of insurance. Young medical professionals, for example, should consider policies that pay monthly in the event of injury, like the types offered by companies like InsureSTAT. These policies can cover student loan payments, which can keep young professional’s financial goals on track, and help them avoid defaulting on their loans.
2. Getting Student Loans
College is expensive. And based on the $1.56 trillion in student loan debt carried by Americans, very few people are getting their degrees without student loans. According to Forbes, the average student loan debt is $32,731, with an average monthly loan payment of $393. Is your reason for going to college worth the years you’ll spend paying off student loans? If your answer isn’t an immediate yes, consider waiting on that expensive college degree. Because according to a report commented on by The Washington Post, only 27% of college graduates work in jobs closely related to their majors.
3. Buying New Vehicles
New vehicles are awesome, but in your 20s you don’t need a ride right off the showroom floor. Instead, skip the five-year note, and purchase a used car with good gas mileage. If possible, pay for it in cash. And, if you’ve already purchased a new vehicle and are stuck under an expensive car note, look into selling it. In some cases, newer vehicles can be sold for enough to both pay off the loan and buy a reliable used car.
4. Using Credit Cards to Live Beyond Your Means
Don’t get into credit card debt. It’s that simple. If you can’t afford to buy something in cash, you can’t afford it. Keeping a credit card just for emergencies? Try following a budget instead—one that includes automatic deposits to a savings account each paycheck. Or choose a checking account that rounds up your purchases, and deposits the change into a savings account. And, if you do need to use your credit card for an emergency, pay it off in full each month.
5. Not Learning to Follow a Budget
Budgets are easy to write and even easier to follow, at least in theory. So why do so many people struggle to stick to a budget? For many, it’s a lack of practice. Get into the habit of sticking to a budget early in life. There are lots of ways to help yourself succeed. Give yourself a set amount of cash each week to spend, set a budget for your groceries, consider carpooling, pick up a small side job for extra income, etc.
Avoiding common money mistakes in your 20s is the easiest way to establish good financial habits that will keep you on track throughout the rest of your life. Already past your 20s? There’s no age limit on avoiding these mistakes or correcting them if you’ve already made them. Your financial well-being is in your hands.