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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 January 2, 2019

              How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

              How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

              Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

              Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

              Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

              This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

              Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

              What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

              Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

              When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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              How It Leads to Financial Improvement

              It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

              Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

              Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

              It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

              Types of Personal Finance Software

              When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

              Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

              For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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              Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

              When to Use Personal Finance Software

              So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

              Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

              1. You Have Multiple Accounts

              There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

              If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

              Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

              2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

              Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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              There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

              With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

              3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

              Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

              Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

              Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

              4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

              Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

              You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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              How to Get Started

              From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

              Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

              It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

              When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

              Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

              Final Thoughts

              Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

              In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

              Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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