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10 Biggest Money Mistakes to Avoid in Your 20s

10 Biggest Money Mistakes to Avoid in Your 20s

Your twenties are a tumultuous time. From courtship to education, the temptation to shell out hefty sums is constant. Sail into your next decade financially secure by avoiding the biggest money mistakes made by twenty-somethings:

1. Loving, gettin’ down, or marrying in a way not supported by your income.

Whether it’s rounds of $10 drinks, or shelling out thousands for an engagement, modern courtship is expensive. Remember that you are looking for a partner who shares your values, and one that you can build a future with. Futures require money. Instead of expending it on a wedding, put it toward homes, cars, or anything else your long-term vision holds.

2. College “just because.”

Many young people enter their twenties already saddled with student loans, to be carried throughout this decade and perhaps into the next. Before you commit to an expensive educational path, confirm that your desired career field requires it–perhaps a trade school, certificate, or apprenticeship would be equally effective. If you do not yet know what you want to pursue professionally, work for a year and explore that question. Do you want to find out the answer while you’re making a little money, or throwing it away on classes you may not like or need?

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3. Going into debt.

Talk to nearly any financially successful individual in their 40s and 50s, and they will laugh about the days of eating nothing but cheap pasta, hitting up the laundromat, and meeting new friends on the city bus. They had these adventures in their 20s. Now, before you have a family, want to make a career change, or need to buy a house, is the time to pinch pennies. Pinch them hard, and be careful to distinguish between needs and wants–every cent you save will be used in the years to come.

4. Living off credit cards.

What’s a surefire way to end up in spiraling, increasing debt? Living off your credit cards. Limit yourself to one card with cash rewards. Purchase only what you can afford at that moment and pay it off regularly.

5. Borrowing money for cars.

If you’re in your twenties, you don’t need a fancy ride. Period. You definitely don’t need a car note. What you need is a reliable vehicle with great gas mileage. You may not be able to afford a car immediately. Urban areas likely have buses or van pools; rural communities may have ride-sharing boards. Get creative.

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6. Neglecting the future.

We never know what the future holds but, with proper planning, we can prepare for it. Start saving for retirement now, with an eye toward investment options that earn tax breaks, such as contributions to a Roth IRA.

7. Harboring illusions about the present.

An appropriate emergency fund includes sufficient savings to cover up to six months of living expenses should you suddenly lose your job. More is better. What if you lose your job, your car breaks down, and a child needs braces, all in the same week?  Stranger things have happened, so start building up your emergency fund today.

8. Forgoing insurance.

You are not invincible. You can either learn that now, or when you are plunged into debt to pay the ambulance fee and surgical costs from a medical emergency, when the other driver sues you after a car accident, or when struggling to replace personal items after a break-in. Shop around for competitive rates, then budget and properly insure yourself and your property.

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9. Failing to plan.

A good financial plan is absolutely necessary to maximize your income, help you invest smartly, and avoid unnecessary taxes every year. Invest in an annual session with a financial planning professional, hire a good CPA come tax time, or hit the library and study up on your own.

10. Turning to family and friends.

Relationships end when money gets involved, especially if you borrow and are later unable to pay them back. Preserve your friendships and family ties by going to an appropriate source for loans if you do find yourself in need of extra funds–the bank.

Sound like a tall order? Creating a solid financial state is not easy, but with diligence and perseverance, you can use your twenties to build the foundation you dream of.

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Need more specific guidance?  Check out these tips from a professional financial advisor.

Featured photo credit: Jennifer Correa via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 3, 2019

How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

Debt is never a fun thing to be in. But, there are many actions that you can take that will help you rid yourself of the burden of debt once and for all.

By coming up with a set plan, eliminating your debt can feel much easier than constantly thinking about it.

This post will provide some tips on how you can do this to help you nix your credit card debt in less than 3 years.

Hint: there are ways that are easier than you think.

1. Consider Consolidating Multiple Credit Cards If Possible

This may not be applicable to you, but if you have multiple cards – it is something to consider. Keeping up with multiple bills is time consuming.

It will depend on the balance you have on each. Consolidate ones you can but do not do it to the point that you get too close to the maximum limit. Also, it is ideal to pick the card with the lower interest rate.

Consider if there are any fees or alternatively, rewards, with transferring a balance to another card. Watch out for fees. Note that some cards offer rewards for transferring a balance to them. This is extra cash that can help go towards paying off your debt.

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Having one or two cards can make nixing your debt much simpler than keeping up with the balance of a bunch of cards. Keeping track of paying the minimum towards a bunch of cards is time consuming. Spend the time to consolidate instead to make the overall process simpler going forward.

My tip: Have one main credit card. Have a second one that you use for necessities – such as groceries or gas – that offers rewards for those purchases (a lot of cards do) and set the second one on auto-pay. You should be able to pay off a smaller amount on auto-pay if it is a necessity. If you think you cannot, then you may need to cut down a lot on expenses.

Why do I suggest doing this? Having one thing set to auto-pay is one less thing to think about. One less thing to waste time on. Same idea with consolidating to one main card. Tracking down too many is a hassle.

2. Try to Pay the Full Balance You Spent Each Month at the Very Least

You need to pay off the amount you are spending each month when that bill comes in. This is the amount you spent THAT month.

Do not let the debt keep accruing while you work on paying any unpaid debt that has accrued. It will become a never-ending battle. Try as best as you can to be current on paying for each month’s expenses when that month’s bill comes out.

If this is a strain, consider why. You may need to cut expenses. Or you may need to consider other cards. Or look at where this money is going.

3. Pay Extra When You Can – Every Small Amount Counts

This cannot be emphasized enough. If you are looking at a lot of credit card debt, it can look daunting, but each extra amount that you can put towards the debt will really add up – no matter how small it is.

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It does not just reduce the principal amount that you have left to pay off, but it reduces the amount that is collecting interest. You will always save money with that reduced interest.

4. Create a Plan on How to Pay Extra

Back to the main point, having this plan is giving you one less thing to think about.

This plan should be a plan that works for you. If it does not work for you, your spending habits, and your views on debt, then it will not be an effective plan.

For instance, if a set plan of an extra $50 (or another amount that you know you can afford) works for you, then do that. Set that aside every month and pay that extra amount. Treat it like a bill. Choose an amount that works for you and pay it like clockwork as though it was a bill you had to pay each month.

Little amounts will not nix it entirely, but they will help tackle it and having a set plan can make it less of a chore. Creating a new plan of how much to put towards it each month is an unnecessary added stress.

5. Cut out Costs for Services You Do Not Use

If you are signed up for subscriptions that you do not use because of some free trial or for some other reason, cut it out. Your overall financial position will look better.

In turn, that will make cutting your credit card debt easier. Look at your statements to find these expenses. If you do not use them, you may forget you are paying some unnecessary amount each month. Cutting it out can really add up in savings that you can put towards other needed expenses.

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6. Get Aggressive About It

Consider these points:

Depending on the interest and the level of debt, you may need to give up a few indulgences. For example, instead of ordering delivery or going out to eat, cook at home. Everything adds up.

Other things may be more of a sacrifice. It may be a trip you wanted to go on, or a daily latte habit you’ve picked up. In these instances, consider how important it is to you and if it’s worth the sacrifice. And if it is a costly expense, think whether you can wait to indulge.

Cutting an extravagant expense can really help make a dent in your overall debt. Try not to add to debt when you are trying to pay it off. It will be a never-ending battle. Make it less of a battle with these tips and it will feel easier.

Bottom line: Do what you can to make this process easier for you. Implement steps that do this. It takes time now, but will help overall. Also, keep track of your spending and paying down of your debts. Which is the next point.

7. Reevaluate Your Progress at Set Intervals

Doing a regular check-in can help you see your efforts pay off or maybe indicate that you need to give this a bit more effort. If you check every 3-6 months, it will not feel so much like a chore or feel so daunting.

By doing this, you will be able to better understand your progress and perhaps readjust your plan. Bonus: if you see it pay off, it will feel great to do this check-in. You will get there.

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Finally (and most importantly)…

8. Keep Trying

Do not get discouraged. Pushing it off will make it worse. Just keep trying.

Once your debt becomes lower, each monthly payment will reduce the balance more. Why? You are paying less towards interest. It will be a snowball effect eventually and it will become much easier to manage. Just get to that point. And know once you do, it will feel easier and motivating.

Start Knocking out Your Debt Today

The best way to eliminate debt is to get started right away. Begin by implementing the above steps and watch your debt just melt away. Try out some of the above strategies and see what works best for you. Soon you’ll be on your way to a debt free life.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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