Your twenties are a time of freedom, finding yourself, and establishing a routine. Believe it or not, many of the choices you make in your twenties can shape how you live later on in life. This is why it’s crucial for you to make smart decisions in this stage of life to set yourself up for future successes. One area to pay particular attention to is your finances.
Many people in their twenties can’t see far enough into the future to know what they need to do to help themselves financially as they grow older. With the right planning, strategy, and goals in mind, you can make the best financial decisions for you in your twenties to help you later on in life.
Below are some of the financial recommendations that can best help you in your twenties.
Consult a Financial Planning Advisor
When trying to figure out where to start making the right financial decisions, it may be a good idea to consult with a professional, especially since finances can be confusing when you’re young. Financial advisors can offer a sound financial planning process that takes into account your current income and savings, your debt, your financial liabilities and responsibilities, and your financial goals for later on in life. The sooner you start planning with a professional, the sooner you can start reaping the rewards.
Make Decisions Based on Your Goals
When thinking about your finances, you should always try to make any decisions based upon goals you have set for yourself. Try to list out your goals in five year increments. Write out where you want to be financially and what you want out of life over the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years, and so on. Then you can see what position you need to be in financially to meet those goals. For instance, if one of your goals is to own a home you should do research on how you can properly prepare your finances to achieve this. Knowing essential requirements such as the minimum credit score to buy a house and steps to qualify for a mortgage can help you make more strategic decisions aligned with your goals. From there you can work to make your dreams your new reality.
Save as Much as Possible
While in your twenties, you’re probably sick and tired of hearing people tell you to stop spending or going out and to save your money. The truth is, they wouldn’t be telling you that if it wasn’t important. It’s also true, however, that you can save your money and still enjoy yourself. If you don’t already know or practice it, learn some basic strategies for budgeting and saving. Setting up financial structure will help you to stay on track when it comes to making those monetary decisions that will affect your future and goals. While you might need to cut back here and there on extravagant nights out or shopping sprees, your future self will thank you for the discipline you’re learning.
Start a Retirement Fund
As a twenty-something, you likely haven’t thought about retirement even a little bit. However, it’s important to change that as soon as possible. If you’re unsure when you should start saving for retirement, the earlier the better. Even delaying five years can mean you miss out on thousands of dollars when it’s time for you to retire. If your employer has a plan, enroll in it immediately. It’s even better if they match a portion of your contributions since you’ll see more return later on and can better ensure retirement success.
There’s so much to consider when thinking about your finances. Being in your twenties is hard enough with all of the personal exploration that’s happening. However, it’s crucial for you to take a step back and get your finances in order. By doing so, you’ll be able to make even better decisions as you continue to age and advance in life.
The cost of attending college in the United States has increased by a staggering 31% over the last decade. This has resulted in more students facing financial difficulties –– and it’s not just a lack of accessible funds that creates issues. The stress of worrying about loan repayments also impacts students, and can affect everything from school performance to mental health.
In an article in September of this year, The College Post reported on research into the financial stress placed upon college students. The article evidences that 74% of students surveyed indicated that financial restraints were their most difficult challenge.
In order to address and help alleviate financial stress, many students are turning to part-time working while in school. And while it's not ideal that this is a necessity in many cases, it can help ease the burden. Below, we'll look at five examples of ways college students can earn some extra cash in college.
1. Local Retail Work
Retail jobs are often some of the best part-time positions available to students. Employers can usually offer flexible hours and hold positions specifically catered to students' lifestyles. Those flexible hours can be fitted conveniently around class schedules and often, retailers are at their busiest during periods when students are on seasonal or holiday breaks. The pay isn't always particularly high, but even picking up five hours' worth of work in a week at the average retail location can make a real difference for a lot of students.
2. Virtual Work
Taking on virtual work is another popular option. Opting for this method of “at-home working” opens up many opportunities –– even more so now that the pandemic has forced the working landscape to shift toward the digital realm. To that point, the financial advice platform AskMoney wrote last year about the effects of the pandemic and shared some of the most in-demand virtual jobs, some of which may be good fits for college students seeking income. These include thinks like web development, medical transcription, and online marketing –– all of which can be done from the comfort of a dorm room, and often with flexible hours.
3. Gig Economy
The growth of the gig economy has been one of the most profound changes in the workforce in recent years. This type of work encompasses freelance, outsourcing, and contract working. It can also, as outlined in our piece on ‘Getting Started in the Gig Economy’, refer to the selling of your own work or products. Whatever the specific venture, jumping into the gig economy can be a beneficial way for students to increase their income.
4. Brand Ambassador
Hiring people to promote and raise awareness of a brand isn’t a new concept, but it is more prevalent these days thanks to social media. That said, not all brand ambassadors are required to work online, so you don’t need to have amassed a huge following on any platform to give this idea a shot. In-person ambassadors work with businesses attending or exhibiting at events; duties may include distributing marketing materials, providing product samples, or just setting up and occupying tables at conferences. This type of job can often sit well within a student’s schedule and provide reasonable part-time income
Tutoring is a perfect job for students seeking extra income. The fact that it comes with its own rewards –– helping to shape the education of schoolchildren –– is a bonus. Most tutoring work these days is remote, and usually involves assisting other students on a one-to-one basis with homework, as well as discussing and reviewing assignments and helping with exam preparation. And you can get set up with students today through any number of online platforms designed to connect students with tutors. Once you're set up, you can effectively pass on your knowledge and learning tips, and earn a bit of spare income in the process –– about $17 or $18 an hour on average, according to Chron
It remains an unfortunate reality that a lot of college students today face a need to make money on the side. But the opportunities above represent sensible solutions that can yield helpful income through relatively small time commitments.
Article written by Riley Anne Johnson
Exclusively for DMFLF
The FitKit Programs aim to bring financial literacy education to those who stand to benefit the most from Financial Literacy Education in schools and in the larger community. FitKit Express Programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of men and women living in poverty or are otherwise at risk thereof, and relate to the mindset, history, values, and challenges of those specific communities. At DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation we aim to Educate, Empower and help youth and adults overcome the pitfalls of America's financial system.
Photo by Pexels
Content by F. Crumlish DMFLF Contributor
Sometimes we all need to find some extra cash each month, either to handle an emergency, save for a goal, or just try to improve our overall financial situation. If you search the internet for tips on “best ways to stretch a dollar,” you will find hundreds of articles and tips. There are dozens of books on personal finance with chapters on managing your spending. Your friends and family will also have suggestions. Some are easier to implement than others. Here are some ways you can use to stretch your dollar:
Make a budget and stick to it. Budgeting is key to understanding where your money goes. Once you have a budget, make it a point to monitor it and freeze your spending once you hit that number each month. This may not be possible in all cases, such as if you have an emergency car repair. But it can work very well for discretionary expenses such as entertainment and dining out.
Pay yourself first. When you create a budget, establish an amount that you will automatically transfer to your savings or investment account from each paycheck, so that less of your paycheck is immediately available to spend. If you don’t “see” it in your checking account, you are less likely to spend it. Your savings grow.
Needs versus wants. Before making a purchase, ask yourself if what you intend to buy is something you need, as opposed to something you want. This will help to avoid impulse purchases, such as a lottery ticket, can of soda, or snack. More significantly, if your phone works well, do you really need to upgrade it to the latest model? When shopping, you can avoid impulse purchases if you ask yourself if the item is something you really need before heading to the checkout counter. You can buy things you want if your budget allows it, but be honest with yourself. Don’t describe branded or luxury items as needs if there is an acceptable, less expensive or “prestigious” alternative. This is an especially good rule to follow when shopping for a car. A reliable car doesn’t have to have a leather interior, heated seats, or an eight channel stereo.
Grocery shop with a list. Supermarkets are filled with things you really do not need displayed in a manner that entices you to buy them. If you make a list, and stick to it, you will avoid buying extra items. If you reach for something off the list, ask yourself if it is really something you need. When making your list, check for coupons and comparison shop brands. Sometimes store brands are significantly less expensive than name brands for comparable items.
Don’t Shop When Hungry - Shopping for groceries while hungry often makes it difficult to avoid the impulse to buy food items not on your list. A 2015 study found that hunger promotes the acquisition of non-food items as well - in any store. The upshot of this is that you should never go shopping - for anything - on an empty stomach.
Bring your lunch to work. - It costs significantly more money to eat out than to bring your lunch. Even if you bring your lunch a few days a week, you will save.
Avoid sales - unless you are sure it’s a deal. A “Sale” is a marketing ploy to entice you to buy things you don’t really need, or clear out unsold items. Also, just because something is marked as “On Sale,” doesn’t mean it isn’t available at a better price elsewhere. When shopping sales, make sure you understand what things cost. Ask yourself if the item is something you really need. Remember too that “sales” often occur several times a year, so you will likely get another chance to buy what you want.
Don’t buy more internet or phone service than you need. The more internet speed or phone data you buy, the higher your bill. “Gig” speed internet is designed to enable several devices to stream video or game simultaneously. If you only have a few devices, or do not game or stream video, you can probably get away with a slower service such as 200 or 400 bps. You can always upgrade your service later, if you find your internet too slow for your usage. Similarly, you can track your cell phone data usage to see if you really need “unlimited” data or if a less expensive plan will suffice.
Review subscriptions. Subscription services have become the norm for video, music, and other programming. Businesses such as gyms and yoga studios have also use a subscription model. And then, of course, there are magazines and newspapers. Review your subscriptions to see if you are using them. Cancel those you do not use. You can always restart them later on should you wish to.
Pay off your credit cards, highest interest rates first. Credit cards carry very high interest rates. You should never charge more than you can pay off, in full, by the due date each month. The reason is that paying on time keeps your credit good, and paying in full means you do not pay interest to the bank. If you do have credit card debt, you want to pay it off as soon as possible. You should do this by paying off the card with the highest interest rate first, while keeping the others current. Eliminating all interest keeps more money in your bank account. If you find yourself unable to avoid charging more than you can pay in full each month, stop using your credit cards. Pay with cash or a debit card instead.
Save your change - Small change adds up. Drop it in a jar, then take it to the bank later on. If you use a debit card, some banks offer “keep the change” programs where they round your purchase up to the next dollar and deposit the difference in your savings account. For example, if you buy something for $9.50, the bank will round it up to $10.00 and deposit $0.50 to your savings account. Over time, your savings add up.
Graduating from college is an exciting milestone, but it can also be a time filled with fear and anxiety. After all, students are now responsible for their finances. Fresh graduates often worry about how soon they will achieve financial independence, which is something they expect to do by age 22. However, CNBC reports that only about 24% of graduates earned an annual income 150% above the federal poverty level — the marker of financial independence. This is a significant drop from the 1980s' 32% rate. Learning how to manage your finances is key to reaching this goal, and one skill you will need is budgeting. This can help you stay on top of your money until you can consider yourself, more or less, completely self-sufficient.
How to Create a Post-College Budget
The objective of budgeting is to provide a systematic way to control your finances within a specified time frame. For instance, if you’re 22 and you want to be financially independent by 25, then how much you spend and save should be in line with the three years you have to complete your goal. Getting a good start on your savings post-college will also be crucial to your financial stability later on. Here’s how to create your budget after graduating:
1. Determine your monthly income
Start by figuring out how much money you’re taking home every month. Factor in all your income streams and then calculate how much you have after tax, social security, and insurance deductions. You will see this amount reflected on your payslips or earning statements from your employer.
2. Account for your expenses
Once you have determined how much money you are earning, now you should find out how much you are spending. There will be two types of expenses you will be dealing with: fixed and variable. The first recur in regular intervals with fixed amounts. Variable expenses can change depending on when you decide to spend on them. Some examples of fixed expenses include your rent or mortgage, utility bills, and minimum debt repayments. Eating at restaurants and spending on entertainment or hobbies are examples of variable expenses. It also helps to categorize your expenses during this step by the level of necessity.
Once you’ve subtracted the necessary expenses from your income, you can determine how much you have left for savings and optional expenses. However, if your expenses outweigh your income, then you need to determine where you can cut your spending. This is where budgeting becomes useful. NerdWallet explains the 50/30/20 approach as a good starting point for beginners. In this budgeting system, 50% of your income should be allotted to necessities, such as rent, minimum loan payments, and groceries. You can use 30% for whatever you want, but 20% should be dedicated to savings and extra payments on high-interest debt.
4. Have a support system
Sticking to your budget can be challenging, and you may not always commit to the 50/30/20 system. It’s easy to feel flush with extra money once you start earning, but the last thing you want is to be trapped in debt. In an interview with Petal Card, young professional Florrie describes how she struggled with an online shopping habit. After confessing to a couple of friends that she couldn’t afford to go on a group holiday, they admitted to being in similar situations. Together, they try to live more frugal lives and support each other when temptation arises. Having a support system will hold you accountable to someone else, and this can motivate the development of better spending and saving habits.
Here at the DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation we asked the question - ‘Will The Next Generation of Adults Reach Financial Independence?’ By re-envisioning social and personal priorities differently and committing to one’s financial goals, we believe you can.
Being a post-college graduate can be scary. Going from a support system of professors and administration ready to help guide you to a self-made, self-sufficient business owner can be daunting. That nervousness can be increased if you’re debating whether or not to start your own business, which means managing everything by yourself. However, if you possess any of the three traits mentioned below, and think about all the logistics before you take that risk, then a life of entrepreneurship could be for you.
A Great Idea
If there is one trait all successful businesses have in common, it’s that they started with a great idea. This may seem obvious but the importance of it cannot be overstated. Think about a business idea as the foundation. The sturdier it is, the overall health of a company will stay healthier for a longer period of time.
However, where do great ideas come from? One of the most sure-fire great ideas comes from identifying everyday problems and solving them creatively. Yakir Gola is a perfect example of doing just that; developing a solution to a problem he discovered in his own life. Gola was one of the only people in his friend group to own a car while at college, which meant he was the only person to ferry his friends back and forth to the convenience store. Seeing that this was a problem for many college students, he got to work creating a business that would deliver convenience store goods right to peoples’ doors.
Problem-solving is a great central idea for a business, especially if it removes one less thing for people to juggle in their everyday lives. So, think of some problems the general population may face every day. Have a solution that’s creative and/or innovative? If so, then you may just have the next great business idea!
An Ability to Lead
There can be an immense amount of pressure on you when you are the founder of a business. You are now the one everyone will look to for answers when something goes wrong. Leadership skills are vital for a company to thrive and grow, and to keep you sane as you traverse the entrepreneurial landscape.
Being a leader, however, doesn’t mean your demeanor should be cold and ruthless. While it is important to look out for the overall good of the company, being compassionate will always net you better results than overlooking others’ emotions to get to a bottom line. Experts in the field even state that being nice will make you a better leader overall. Why wouldn’t it? People are attracted to compassionate people. Those who listen and care will make their teams feel heard. If an idea is a foundation then the employees are the supporting structure of your business, and treating them with respect will only lead you closer to success.
A Want to Succeed
The journey to reaching your entrepreneurial goals may not always be easy. Roadblocks are almost a guarantee when in the driver’s seat of your own company. Growing pains happen to everyone and it’s important to remember not to assume you’ve failed when you hit one. There will always be ways to overcome these problems that pop up, but one thing that may not always be there is the want to overcome them. Being self-motivated, even in the face of adversity, might be the most beneficial trait to possess. Remember, at the end of the day, this business is your business. It wouldn’t exist without your work. Whether it be life events or the growing pains of business, a desire to persevere is an essential trait of any business owner.
Being a Young Entrepreneur
Those three traits are not the only things to think about when deciding if starting a business after college is right for you. Being a young entrepreneur can be exhilarating, but there can also be some hardships ahead. Here are some pros and cons to consider:
The world of entrepreneurship can seem intimidating, even with college classes on the subject under your belt. However, if you are prepared to put the work in and implement these three skills then the title of “business owner” could be in your future.
DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation is interested in your contributing articles about personal finance. If you would like to contribute to our site, or to our FitKit Personal Finance Curricula that is being taught in schools and communities please reach out for a list of topics to firstname.lastname@example.org
Graduating from college is an exciting milestone with endless opportunities to follow. However, the transition from student life to the real world can be difficult, especially if you struggle with finances. Managing your money doesn’t have to be stressful, and there are ways to set yourself up for financial success. Here are a few tips to help you thrive financially as a new college grad.
Create a Budget
Once you finish college, you start a new chapter of your life with many firsts: your first job, your first salary, and your first time living on your own. With so many new responsibilities, it’s important to create an organized budget to manage your finances.
Track your income and expenses each month, and determine how much you can afford to spend. Allocate your salary to essential expenses such as rent and utilities, and decide which other payments you want to prioritize. Outside of your living essentials, make sure to account for high-interest bills such as student loans and debt payments in your budget as well.
If your current income doesn’t adequately cover your expenses, consider cutting costs on nonessential splurges like subscriptions, dining out, and shopping. Try to live frugally and think about living with roommates or moving in with your parents to save money. If you have extra time, starting a side hustle or getting a second job might be smart options for extra income.
Manage Your Debt
While attending college is beneficial, it can also be expensive, leaving most students with student loan debt. That said, as a new college graduate, one of your biggest priorities should be paying off and eliminating debt.
Be proactive and make a plan to manage your debt, whether it’s for student loans, credit cards, a car, or anything else. You should account for these payments in your monthly budget and make sure to pay these bills on time to protect your credit score from being lowered.
When it comes to debt, try to go beyond your minimum monthly payments to avoid paying extra interest. The faster you can pay off debt, the faster you can use that money for a better purpose. Try to pay off loans with the highest interest rates first, and work your way down. It might be worth refinancing your loans to secure a lower interest rate, which will save you money in the long run. If you’re a homeowner, you can also take advantage of your home’s equity to tackle your debt. Although you’d be taking out another loan, this option gives you the money in one lump sum so you can immediately start paying off high-interest loans that may be ruining your credit and other financial goals.
Start an Emergency Fund
This past year has shown us just how unpredictable life can get, and transitioning out of student life makes these changes even more daunting. That’s why it’s important to create an emergency fund to prepare for any unexpected events or life-changing circumstances like losing a job, getting into an accident, or having a baby.
Generally, this fund should cover three to six months worth of expenses to give you extra security and a strong financial cushion should anything go wrong. This should be one of your biggest priorities as a college graduate, but don’t feel like you need to have this money saved immediately. This is definitely a long term goal, but will set you up for financial success as you
grow older and have more responsibilities.
Plan Ahead for Retirement
Although you just started your career, you should start planning ahead for your financial future as soon as possible. Retirement might seem ages away, but the money you start saving now can make a huge difference later on.
Especially as a young college graduate, compound interest is your best friend. Start saving for retirement and invest early to receive the best return on your money. If you have a job, enroll in your employer’s 401(k) program and ask about a company match. If you can’t enroll in that, consider opening a Roth IRA account for retirement and research other ways you can invest your money for the future.
Remember, it’s never too early to start saving for retirement. This can be a smart use of any extra disposable income and can set you on the path for financial independence.
Being a new college graduate can be stressful and confusing, but your finances don’t have to be part of the problem. As long as you live within your means and plan ahead for financial milestones and hardships, you’ll create a strong foundation for financial wellness.
ulfilling, happy, and successful retirement can mean different things to different people. For many, it can mean transitioning from a full-time career to spending more quality time with friends and loved ones. For others, it can mean playing golf more regularly or starting a garden.
If it's any consolation, once you can figure out what you want to do, retirement planning should come easy. To ensure you get to enjoy retirement success, keep the following tips in mind:
Plan for Longevity
Undoubtedly, living to age 100 is still quite impressive. However, it is no longer as uncommon as before. Nowadays, people live healthier lifestyles and have more access to breakthrough medical treatments, allowing them to live longer than before.
When planning your retirement, you must consider life expectancies. In other words, you (and your assets) should be prepared to live longer. This is especially important if you are active, in excellent health, and have longevity in the family history.
Stay Out of Debt
While debt can be a concern at any stage in your life, it can be particularly challenging to deal with post-retirement when your assets, pensions, and Social Security are more fixed. That said, it is recommended that you pay for things as you go.
It is also ideal that you set aside assets and income for substantial expenses. It would also be best to pay off your credit card dues in full each month. In addition, avoid using your home equity line to finance projects.
Have Sufficient Preservation Assets
For many, retirement involves preparing assets to replace a part of the paycheck. This means liquidity and security are needed to warrant you get paid, regardless of market performance.
Aim to have at least ten years of cash need in preservation assets like high-quality bonds and cash. This can help ensure you can easily ride out market downturns and still have the ability to pay your bills.
Be a Committed Long-Term Investor
For many, asset growth is needed to sustain retirement goals over decades. Stock investments are often used to achieve investment growth. However, you must keep in mind that markets can be cyclical, so it would be best not to overreact to market events or chase returns.
Many studies have shown that committed and disciplined investors will win if they invest and allow their assets to recover. Having preservation assets will help you to be able to sustain your needs even during challenging market segments.
Consider "What If" Scenarios
When preparing for retirement, you need to realize that life is a winding journey. Since you can't foresee all the twists and turns, you should evaluate your financial and personal security by considering a few "what if" scenarios.
What scenarios you should think about should include spending variations, care needs, differing rates of return, etc. Examining possible future outcomes can help you make better financial decisions today to be better prepared for tomorrow.
Invest in Long Term Care (LTC) Insurance
One of the most significant retirement risks is the likelihood of needing ongoing care due to cognitive or physical limitations. While you can always hope you won't need care, your retirement requirement can get compromised if you are not prepared.
Unfortunately, care costs are rising rapidly, and annual care costs have become quite costly for many. Thankfully, you have the option to get Long Term Insurance to fund future care costs.
Preparing for a successful retirement is no easy feat. That said, keep the tips laid out above in mind during the planning stage, so you are a step closer to enjoying that successful retirement you have always wanted.
About the Author:
Rachael Harper is the Content Marketing Strategist of Bennett & Porter a wealth management and insurance firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona. When not writing, she makes use of her time reading books and playing bowling with her family and friends.
Photo: L-R Elaine Murray DMFLF Educator, Derby Chukwudi DMFLF Advisor, Jacqueline Nyers DMFLF Educator
On July 26, 2021, DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation, Princeton NJ, Visions and Pathways, Bridgewater, NJ and Kevin Whelan from NJ CASA joined forces in support of our collective missions to help at-risk youth develop personal finance skills by offering a FitKit Personal Finance workshop. The workshop, underwritten by cashflownavigator.com introduced important life and personal finance skills to a group of at-risk youth age 16-21 involved in the Visions and Pathways Transitions to Adulthood Program. By offering this workshop we hope to have provided some basic skills as food for thought as young men and women transition from dependence and foster care, to independence.
DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation's (DMFLF) mission is to prepare today’s students for a lifetime of financial responsibility through engaging programs delivered to schools and communities. Through our FitKit student-centered multi-sensory financial literacy curriculum designed by a team of highly skilled educators, DMFLF is working to close the financial literacy gap while helping to educate, empower and help at-risk youth overcome life’s challenges
About Visions and Pathways
Visions and Pathway's mission is to provide abused, neglected, and homeless youth with housing, a stable environment, and supportive services that guide them in becoming self-sufficient. Visions and Pathways has helped abused, neglected, homeless, missing, and at-risk youth since 1970 by providing; food, housing, counseling, education assistance, arts and recreation activities, career and employment counseling, scholarships, and financial literacy instruction.
Cashflownavigator.com’s mission is to help its members understand, measure and manage their total financial situation and to set goals that move them closer to financial independence.
We will be inviting a select group of potential funders who express interest in learning more about the work of DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation to observe the demo workshop.
With your support, we can make our mutual objectives become a reality for all at-risk young adults, improving financial literacy, ending financial victimization, and giving our youth a fair chance.