Your 20’s is an ideal time to establish good money habits–like getting your emergency fund going–that can help carry you through the next decade.
One of the best ways to start is creating a budget and tracking your expenses–then test it out for several months to be sure it’s realistic and adjusting it as needed. This is basic but missed by many.
Your finances are likely simpler now than they will be in the future when juggling savings for a house and starting a family.
While paying down your debt, you also need to build up emergency savings. Set up direct deposit from your paycheck into a high-yield savings account, so you aren’t tempted to spend that money before you save it. Six times your take-home pay should be saved in your emergency fund. Then graduate to a goal of three month’s worth of pay and build from there.
Now is also the time to work on breaking that credit card debt cycle –but make sure you’re still approaching your goal. Of course, watch those charges but also avoid making giant repayments when you haven’t properly budgeted for it.
Running up your credit card just to stay afloat and having to withdraw from your savings account–not what you want to be doing even though you may believe it is the easiest solution.
Of course you’re not thinking retirement with it being so far off, and your 401k probably isn’t the first place you want to put any extra hard-earned cash but its important to start saving early and this is one of the best vehicles available. Even small amounts make a big difference.
Contribute a small percentage of your paycheck at first, then increase it by a minimum of 1% every six months until you max out. Take advantage of an employer match if your company offers one–otherwise you’re leaving free money on the table that you will most certainly need later.
During the next decade of your life, your financial goals will become more complicated. Paying off credit card debt, student loans, building your savings — while looking for a down payment on a house or possibly thinking about marriage and a family. Remember, only one goal at a time.
Master the big three–paying off credit card debt, building your emergency fund and minding your retirement savings –you’ll be strategically ready for the next set of life’s challenges–your 30’s!