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Dear 20-Somethings, If You Don’t Know These 7 Important Things About Money and Finance, You’ll Regret It in 10 Years

Dear 20-Somethings, If You Don’t Know These 7 Important Things About Money and Finance, You’ll Regret It in 10 Years

It goes without saying that your 20s come with lots of new things: new friends, new experiences, new perspectives, and new legal allowances.

As it turns out, they’re also packed with defining moments that will shape the rest of your life. And while it’s usually very difficult for young people to think about things like planning for retirement and investing in life insurance, the truth is that those AARP discounts are closer than you might think. So if you can learn these important things about money and finance now, in the future you’ll be happy that you did, and probably a lot richer too.

1. Pay Yourself First

“Don’t save what is left after spending; spend what is left after saving.” – Warren Buffett

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    While the concept of saving may be a familiar one, paying yourself first is often misunderstood. I didn’t understand the idea until I was well beyond my 20s, but I wish I had understood it sooner.

    Paying yourself first means taking a portion of your earnings and putting it into a savings account or investment that can then work to earn you more money, all while you sleep.

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    The reason why this is so important is because when you’re saving money it grows in relation to the interest it accrues, so the more money you have to save and the longer you’re saving, the more you can take advantage of this extra “free” money.

    Alternatively, by not saving you’re also losing the money that could be gained in interest. That’s why it pays to learn how to pay yourself first.

    2. Learn how to Leverage the Power of Compound Interest

    “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.” – Albert Einstein

    In his book

    The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson explains the power of compounding with a penny. A penny doubled each day for thirty-one days is greater than one million dollars today, he explains, and actually adds up to $10,737,418.24!compounding
      Photo credit Cviko Vidakovic

      Twenty-somethings have the best opportunity to take advantage of compounding because of the magic of time and the power that compounding gains as it grows. Unfortunately, many 20-somethings ignore this wealth-making practice and lose valuable opportunity in the process.

      3. Grow Your Financial Education

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        Becoming financially literate is not rocket science, though it can seem like it — especially when the majority of us are not taught financial literacy in school. But just like a higher academic education helps you advance in your career, higher financial education helps you advance in life and in what you can do. Thankfully, there’s no better time than your 20s to start the learning curve with any number of great resources.

        4. Know Your Credit Score and Keep it Up

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          In the September 2014 issue of Success Magazine, Suze Orman, the money guru herself, says that understanding your credit is key to financial health. “A FICO score will determine if a landlord will rent to you. It may determine if an employer will hire you. It determines if a telephone company will give you a phone, and it even determines what your car insurance premium happens to be.”

          As credit scores go, anything below 500 is a red flag and, just like your grades in school, it’s a lot easier to slide down than it is to bring back up, so pay attention. For additional queries and your free credit score, use CreditKarma, Credit.com, or Bankrate.

          5. Live Within Your Means

          “Do today what others won’t, so tomorrow you can do what others can’t.” – Dave Ramsey

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            In theory, if you have an income that can pay for your basic needs, you can eventually amass at least a small fortune by paying yourself first, using the power of compounding, making smart investments, and living within your means. However, most 20 somethings are still honing these practices. Not surprisingly, this is also the time when many people begin using credit cards to pay for things not necessarily within their budgets.

            Living within your means may look like skipping the movies on the weekends, trading your daily Starbucks for a homemade cup of coffee, or forfeiting that shopping spree in favor of recycling your wardrobe for a few seasons. However, when you practice this without reliance on debt, you give yourself a better chance to build a strong financial base. You might not think so now, but if you don’t put down that iced latte, you may be kicking yourself in the future.

            6. Learn to Use Discipline to Manage Income and Expenses

            “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn

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              There’s a great book that every 20 something should read called The Richest Man in Babylon. Trust me, if I had read this book in my 20s, I’m sure I’d be a millionaire by now!

              Through a series of parables the author, George Clason, relates the common experiences of poor money managers and outlines disciplines that lead to lifelong riches and wealth.

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              So imperative to financial health are the disciplines of managing income and expenses that these lessons serve as the foundation of the entire book. Unsurprisingly, failure to have a financial plan with these in mind is the number one regret of people when they reach retirement. Luckily for you if you’re in your 20s, it doesn’t have to be yours.

              7. Learn to Manage Your Emotions Around Money

              “In the world of money and investing, you must learn to control your emotions. High emotions equal low intelligence.” – Robert Kiyosaki

              There’s no denying that having money (or not having it) comes with a lot of emotion. When we have it we’re happy (and often irrational), and when we don’t we’re sad. With each emotion come behaviors that can make or break our financial stability for the future. Many a divorce, bankruptcy, and heart attack have been attributed to the stress that people feel around money that could have easily been avoided.

              Learning to manage your emotions with money is not only a good idea, it’s the thing that will help you to successfully navigate your way through the thousands of financial decisions you’ll need to make throughout your life, so it stands to reason that the better you can do this, the more money you’ll keep.

              While it may be easier said than done, there are always resources that can help you identify your level of emotional intelligence around money and work to improve it at the same time.

              Your twenties are a mixed bag full of fun experiences and new opportunities for growth. But if you can find a way to incorporate the seven practices above, you’ll not only thank yourself later, but even be able to afford to buy yourself an expensive treat!

              Noize Photography via photopin cc

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              Last Updated on July 10, 2020

              The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

              The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

              Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

              Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

              Identifying All of Your Debts

              The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

              Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

              1. Own Your Debt

              Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

              Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

              2. Make a Debt Tracker

              It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

              Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

              3. Get Your Debt Number

              Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

              Prioritizing Your Debts

              All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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              1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

              Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

              There are three main types of bad debt:

              • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
              • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
              • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

              Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

              • Student Loan Debt
              • Mortgage Loan
              • Business Loans

              2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

              Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

              Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

              If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

              3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

              Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

              Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

              Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

              1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

              “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

              It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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              Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

              Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

              2. Hide Your Credit Cards

              If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

              Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

              3. Automate Everything

              Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

              4. Plan Ahead

              Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

              For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

              5. Live Cheaply

              The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

              • Live with roommates
              • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
              • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
              • Take public transit or bike to work

              Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

              The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

              If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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              1. Maintain a High Credit Score

              Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

              • Never miss a payment
              • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
              • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
              • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
              • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

              2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

              Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

              Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

              If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

              How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

              Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

              1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

              Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

              Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

              2. Earn More Money

              There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

              Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

              Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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              Talk to Your Boss

              Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

              Start a Side Hustle

              This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

              Build an Online Business

              There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

              3. Celebrate Your Wins

              As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

              While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

              4. Set New Financial Goals

              Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

              Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

              These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

              Conclusion

              Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

              Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

              More Tips on Getting out of Debt

              Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

              Reference

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