The best time to invest and save up your money is as early as getting out of college. It’s even better if you started way before graduation. Trust me, you’ll thank your younger self for establishing good money habits, way before dealing with the real world or adulting101 as some people refer to. Still, your twenties will be the prime years of your life where you think you have it all, especially when you get a job and move away from your hometown. That’s the sweet taste of independence. Fresh out of college kind of mood.
At this stage, you begin earning your hard-earned money plus you have more freedom than ever. You don’t depend on daily allowance or lunch money anymore. You are all grown up and navigating life mostly on your own.
However, with earning money comes great responsibility. It’s so easy to squander your money whenever and wherever you please, knowing that another paycheck is coming next month. I hate to break it to you, but this cycle leads to a dead end. Worst case scenario is ending up with an empty bank account. We clearly want to prevent that from happening.
It’s true that temptation will always linger around the corner. From seasonal brand sales to unbelievable online deals, one cannot simply turn a blind eye from it. It’s going to be a struggle to budget while you also see others constantly partying, shopping, or travelling. But patience is key, dear. You got to trust the process because you are doing this for your future self.
So here are 8 good money habits to form and must practice in your 20’s:
1. Organize your spending
Why not try to map out your financial territory and navigate your way through it? You could do this by keeping track of your expenses. Start with writing down on a piece of paper or typing it on an excel sheet all things that you have been spending on, from impulse purchases to bills payment. There is a need to categorize your personal expenses and then compute your net worth or net loss. After knowing the numbers, create an action plan by setting realistic financial goals and sticking with a budget.
Did that just sound heavy? Well, you don’t have to go through all these efforts in learning basic accounting because I have a freebie library that includes tracking your expenses. It’s an easy-to-use tool and it might just be your new favorite.
2. Pay your bills on time
There are so many advantages to paying your bills on time. One, it’s good for your mental health because you’re not stressed out and you have everything perfectly managed. Two, you save money by not having to pay penalties or late fees. And three, you improve your credit score rating and your financial reputation. Banks and any ordinary person love this kind of attitude. It will be easy for you the next time you need a loan.
Set aside a fixed budget for your monthly bills. The essential bills that you should always consider are your electricity, water, phone, internet, credit card, and rent bills. Pay these on time to avoid sudden disconnection. It would be a hassle on your part. Free yourself from financial worries by paying your bills on time.
3. Budgeting is the key
Budgeting is a term that always pops up as a reminder in blogs, self-help books, advice, or school. It has become a cliche at this point, but the truth is only a few people remain consistent with budgeting because it’s challenging. Sometimes there are unexpected things to buy or emergencies to spend on.
As much as you can, prioritize by carefully identifying your needs versus your wants. Obviously, your needs come first. After that, this is when budgeting comes into play. You then organize, keep track, and set aside money meant for your expenses. You need to know where your money is going. For beginners, it is highly advisable to adopt the 70%-20%-10% rule. Meaning, 70% is spent on monthly expenses from groceries to utilities; 20% goes into your savings, and 10% goes to you. By planning ahead and controlling your spending, you save more money in the long run.
ALSO READ: 15 practical ways to save more money
4. Set a “no spend day”
Others would say that an average person spends every day on food, commute, or water. But this is not entirely true. Since we are experiencing a global pandemic as of 2021, it’s easy to stay at home and not spend the entire day. You just have to make something out of what’s in the refrigerator or pantry for food. Keep yourself busy with work or a passion project so that you could be successful in this challenge.
There are a lot of things to do in the comfort of your home. You could have a self-care day, a lazy day, or even a clean-up day. Read a book, watch a movie, or exercise at home. And the list of activities just goes on. Try to enjoy the moment and refrain from thinking about money.
5. Start investing in the stock market
The stock market might be an overwhelming field of expertise. Understanding it poses a hindrance to most young adults. There are also certain risks involved but it is a great way to grow your wealth. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a college degree in business to be successful in this endeavor.
It’s true that high risk might guarantee a high reward, but it isn’t necessary to go to such lengths if you are uncomfortable especially for newbies. You could play it safe by investing small first before investing in more stocks and other companies.
Remember that the stock market is not a gamble and you shouldn’t depend on your luck. Information about the company you are going to invest in is freely accessible online and in the newspaper. There are online courses available on YouTube, Udemy, or Coursera to name a few. You could even consult a stockbroker or a bank officer regarding this matter. There’s even an app to help you in your stock investments which is Etoro (available in Play Store and AppStore). Now, it is up to you to do the work and research the company.
6. Learn how to use a credit card to your advantage
Credit cards allow room for financial opportunities but be careful to not get in trouble with piled-up debt. Others are afraid to apply for one since debt is inevitable or due to the fear of probably overusing it. Actually, it’s not so bad if you know how to use your credit card wisely.
Most banks nowadays offer a point system, and you gain points every time that you use a credit card. If you saved up enough points, then you are here for a treat. You can redeem the points depending on what your bank offers. They usually provide a list of options on their website or you could even request a hardcopy of this. In fact, this is a chance to build your credit score, and your purchasing power increases. Rakuten does a great job for this. It is where you can get cashback only for shopping at over their stores. It’s free to sign up and you can immediately earn money for your orders.
Even if credit cards have these advantages, try not to go overboard with your salary or your net worth. Whenever you swipe, always think about how or when you are going to pay the credit card bill. Be cautious and pay your credit card bill on time.
7. Save for an emergency
Emergencies can happen out of the blue. From health issues, accidents, and calamities, there are just so many sudden events that can make anyone desperate for money. You need to be prepared for what’s to come. This is why you need to set up an emergency fund. In fact, it should be one of your primary concerns during your first few years of working.
An emergency fund is what you owe to yourself in times of an unexpected crisis. Shopping because there is a sale is not an emergency. So, don’t treat your emergency fund the same as your debit or credit cards. It does not have the same purpose as those. Instead, treat it with respect.
First things first, you have to head over to the bank and set up a separate debit or checking account. Then the next question would be how to save up for an emergency fund? It actually depends on your lifestyle, commitments, and salary range but here are two suggestions:
Option A: Set aside at least 3% to 10% of your monthly salary, deposit it to your emergency fund, and try not to break your streak!
Option B: Set a target amount for your emergency fund and reach it. For example, you chose $1000 as your target. The next step is to implement a personal action plan. You don’t have to deposit monthly, but you have to commit to your deadlines.
ALSO READ: 20 TIPS TO SAVE MONEY ON A TIGHT BUDGET
8. Make more money with side hustles
Don’t depend on your full-time or part-time job for money because there is a spectrum of opportunities available nowadays especially online. However, this does not mean that you are going to forget about your employer. In other words, a side hustle is something you do during your free time and it is a chance to earn extra bucks. Instead of scrolling mindlessly on social media or binging on Netflix, at least try to capitalize your free time.
You could start with that passion project you’ve been wanting to try. As much as possible, your side hustle must be something that you like. Don’t be afraid to explore and try multiple side hustles until you find the right one.
Freelancing is not the same as a part-time job as work time depends on the projects you take. It’s actually based on trust and confidence between you and the client. It’s more of an agreement without an employer-employee relationship. Despite this, it’s still important to be professional and commit to deadlines.
Freelance platforms where you could apply for a side hustle are Upwork, Fiver, and SuperSourcing. Examples of online freelance jobs ranging from Social Media Management (SMM), Virtual Assistants (VA), graphic designers, writers, video editors, the list goes on. You could set your own rates as well.
8.2 BLOGGING OR VLOGGING
The so-called influencers have already taken today’s internet by storm. There are micro-influencers and macro-influencers. Most of them make money with brand deals and advertisements from creating appealing content online. Bloggers write stories or articles on their websites while vloggers create videos depicting their daily lives. Imagine, you could now make money on that and be discovered by talent agencies?
Lady Boss Bloggers have free courses about blogging and how you can start making money. I recommend trying out her free courses first and when you’re ready, you can take her signature course – start a money-making blog. I invested in her course in 2020 and it has helped me a lot make my firsts sales and make real money from blogging.
8.3 ONLINE BUSINESS
Since people are more online than ever, you could set up a free online shop! You could sell pre-loved items on Carousel or Facebook group, and brand-new items on Lazada, Shopee, or Amazon. In choosing a platform to sell on, you should study the demographics and identify your target audience. Also, use the right hashtags!
OVER TO YOU
Earning money in your twenties is an exciting feeling. It’s normal to be trapped in all sorts of emotions including greed. You might want to splurge on something that you’ve been dying to possess ever since. It’s really easy to lose control. After all, you’ve been studying for two decades, been dependent on your parents, and you only had a few bucks to spare before. However, you need to keep it together and learn how to control your expenses for the benefit of your future self. Establish these good money habits and you will get closer to the best financially independent version of yourself.