This blog post originally appeared on Generation Y Retirement Account: A Millennial’s guide to securing a strong financial present & future in May 2015.
Alright, listen up all you ambitious & glorious readers. The fact that you take a couple minutes in your day to read the thoughts of someone else provides an edge to you already. That’s right, I’m lookin’ at you, hot shot. Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Whether that means financing a degree, self-teaching, or expanding your knowledge beyond the institution level…I am an avid believer in this key phrase. Today, I’m creating the reverse of the “Things I Wish I Knew In My 20’s” (or 30’s, 40’s, etc.) regarding money that you may see from time to time. So for all of you determined readers & knowledge seekers out there … here we go!
10 Things I Know In My 20’s About Money:
1. An ambitious go-getter can create a lot of wealth. But so can a calculated, patient individual.
There are two sides of the coin to building wealth (did I just make a pun?). All styles are welcome and can be good, even great when it comes to sorting through personal finance matters. Your attitude and traits do not clearly dictate whether you will do well with money, or not. A wide array of individuals are successful with money.
2. Take emotion out of the investing equation and diversify.
When people get too emotional with what they have invested, mistakes can be made. You may make decisions to pull money out, when the market will correct itself. Instead of expending effort to try to time the market accurately: diversify. Give yourself a weighted balance and average of returns rather than gambling all of your investments in one asset class.
3. Getting rid of student loan debt like a bad habit allows for more financial freedom.
Find a way to quickly & feasibly get out of student loan debt as much as you can. Map out a game plan to make more than your minimum payments. Throw a bonus at your monthly payments while you’re at it (think about it, your diploma was an investment to get you to where you are – you will continue to earn more through raises & bonuses through your hard work). Do not accept that the debt is a ball & chain that you will hold for many years of your life. Attempt to find ways to free yourself from it earlier than anticipated.
4. It is true. Saving early now will reap benefits in the future.
Ever seen those graphs & calculators that depict how much money you could have in the future if you start saving NOW? Like one here. The theme may be tried & true, but seriously…for all you visual learners. These graphs & calculators certainly get the picture across if words don’t quite cut it for you.
5. Automating and worrying less about your finances gives you more time.
Wonder what day to day life would be like if you weren’t consistently stressed about money? Getting in tune with your finances now at an earlier age generates more free time to take on new hobbies, passions and ventures. Blocks of time where you normally would have spent thinking about money are now freed up to do whatever you please. Also, building a solid financial base now will only allow for more time to be spent with my future family (or future endeavors of your choice). Get a solid personal finance foundation down that will provide fortitude for the next chapters of your life.
6. Financial heroes are real.
I’m not talking about Superman here, but you can bet there are several aspirational people to learn from that have taken their personal finance matters into their own hands. Sure, you may read about those “get rich quick” methods (or, even untrue stories about kids trading stocks and earning a ridiculous amount of money). No, I’m talking about the people who paid off thousands of dollars of debt, took frugality to the next level, or found ways to make themselves financially savvy before hitting their 30’s. These people are inspirational and create a collective amount of reasoning why I continue to write this blog geared towards the Millennial generation.
7. Retirement may be far, but great things come with time.
It may seem difficult to sock away money for something that you have to literally visualize. As cliche as it might be, all great things come with time. Think about how many practices you had to endure and work-outs you took on to become a collegiate athlete. Think about the countless hours of study sessions and papers written it took to receive your high school diploma, undergraduate degree, or Masters degree. How fantastic does that glass of wine, whiskey or craft beer taste now that it’s been barrel aged? On a foodie side, how delectable is that peach, pear, or apple now that it has ripened? Better yet, how does your fashion sense look now in comparison to looking at pictures of your awkward fashion phases in your younger years? Yes…great things sure do come with time.
8. Keeping up with the Jones’ used to be a thing.
But we’re getting educated and that phrase is becoming worn out. Instead of trying to keep up with one another, we’re reaching out to help each other out. Realizing that wealth isn’t about depreciating assets and the collection of things allows us to recognize what spots in life are really rich. Dig in deep and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Instant gratification isn’t just what my generation is all about.
9. As much as you save, allow yourself to give.
Whether it’s donations to a cause you are behind, surprising a stranger with a random act of kindness, or rewarding yourself here and there – allow yourself to give. Yes, it is important to save for the future. Living in the present is vital as well. Don’t deprive yourself too much of spending money on the things you value. There is a beautiful balance of saving and spending. Find that equilibrium and practice it delicately throughout your life.
10. There is no limitation to financial knowledge.
From age 6 selling lemonade in the neighborhood, to 13 receiving your first weekly lunch allowance, to 16 starting your first high school summer job, 18 taking on the financial woes of real life and/or college, 23 setting up your first 401(k) or retirement plan through work, 32 shopping for your first life insurance policy, 45 earning additional income by creating a small internet store, 53 gearing up for your retirement, 68 heading on a flight to clear a vacation spot off your bucket list…there is an ever-expansive growth that places no cap to financial knowledge. There is no discrimination of age when it comes to learning about financial knowledge and practices. Take the no limitation aspect to your advantage.
The 10 listed items above are just a summation of the knowledge that I know in my 20’s about money (I have a long list of people, authors, mentors, and family to thank for that). The exciting part? Every year that goes by, my knowledge will exponentially grow. When I reflect back to my 20’s later in life, I will recognize that I was preparing a financial foundation for the rest of years to come. I encourage you to do the same, that way you don’t have to look back and say “the things I wish I knew in my 20’s about money…”
Giving you doses of financial knowledge with no limitations…
All my best,
After recognizing that post-grad life was difficult enough to navigate, Alyssa took on one of the most taboo spoken topics: finance. Helping you strengthen your financial game plan one post at a time, join her at Generation YRA each week! You can also follow Alyssa on Twitter as @GenerationYRA