It’s difficult to be in your 20’s—there’s no shortage of things demanding your attention each and every day, and it can be overwhelming to try and manage all the responsibilities that come with adulthood and entering the workforce. Given the circumstances, it can be easy to look at long-term responsibilities like financial planning as something that can wait; after all, you won’t be retiring for a few decades, right?
False! While it’s true that retirement may be off in the future, being in your 20’s means you have one critical financial asset money can’t buy: time. Making smart financial choices in your 20’s can set you up for financial success as you age and make it significantly easier for you to reach your big life goals like paying off student loans, saving for the down payment on a house, and your eventual retirement.
We’ve put together our Top 10 money moves you can make TODAY to improve your financial future. Explore and see what little things you could be doing to make a big difference!
Make a Spending Plan
The single most effective money management tool you can build for yourself is a budget. The best way to know what you can save is to know exactly what you spend. By creating a monthly budget for important categories like groceries, utilities, and other regular expenses and deducing those from your monthly income, you’ll know exactly what you have to work with.
Save At Least 10% of Your Gross Income
Saving 10% of your before-tax income is a fantastic benchmark for getting started on building an emergency fund, working towards retirement, or achieving any other financial goals you might set for yourself. However, 10% is merely a benchmark—if 10% isn’t an option for you, try 5% or whatever regular amount is doable within your budget. It’s not necessarily the percentage that matters; it’s the act of starting, saving, and planning.
Build an Emergency Fund
Life disrupts even the best-laid financial plans, so one of the most important things to consider in beginning to manage your finances is your Emergency Fund, equal to three to sixth month’s living expenses. There will be unexpected car repairs, illnesses, and other emergencies that catch you off guard—but by building an Emergency Fund, you can at least be sure there’s a financial cushion there to catch you. Don’t sweat it if you can’t build the fund up to completion right away; just like the “Save 10%” rule, the most important thing is starting and growing it a little bit at a time.
Make it a Priority to Get Adequate Insurance
Whether it’s health, disability, auto, or rental/homeowner’s insurance, having all your bases covered by insurance is important. It may seem cheaper at first to go without, but as we’ve discussed, the unexpected can and will happen, and insurance can turn what could be a nightmare of an insurance bill into something much more easily manageable. Keep in mind that if someone else depends on your income, life insurance is also incredibly important to ensure they’re financially protected even if the unthinkable happens.
Set Short-Term Financial Goals
While it’s great to have long-term plans for big-ticket goals, it’s also a good idea to keep track of your more immediate, smaller-scale financial goals. Whether it’s as simple as saving for something fun you want to buy yourself or something a little bigger (like vacation!), setting short-term goals can help you stay financially focused and on track to meet your larger goals. Put your goals in writing, calculate how much you’ll need to save each week or month to meet them, and you’ll be set to go!
Start Investing—Sooner Rather than Later
Once you’ve implemented your budget, built your emergency fund, and obtained the insurance you need, make the most of your money by gradually starting to invest. The key is to start small and scale upwards over time—a little bit now can become a LOT with time and patience. Make an appointment with a Sun Lifetime Financial Advisor (include hyperlink) to get your investing journey started!
Tax-Advantaged Savings Plans? Yes Please!
One of the best (and easiest!) ways of saving for retirement is taking advantage of tax-advantaged savings plans, such as company 401k or an Individual Retirement Account (often shortened to IRA) like those that Sun Federal offers. These plans offer various tax benefits depending on the plan, which can save you money while also building your foundation for retirement, which is a huge win-win!
Keep Job Options Open
Getting necessary (or even extra) training and education can help keep your job skills fresh and your knowledge and skills up to date. Your finances aren’t the only thing that need to grow—so does your skillset! Keeping on top of training help keeps your career options flexible, especially in more specialized fields or careers.
Maintain Orderly Financial Files
Making a budget and financial plan is one thing and keeping track of it is another! Making sure that you have easy access to budget sheets and financial records is important for situations where you need to reference or adjust them. They may not be something that you’re accessing each and every day, but when you need them (such as applying for a loan or doing your taxes), save yourself the hassle of collecting everything and have them ready to go!
Take Advantage of Sun Federal Services
Planning for the short and long term is undeniably important, but you can't forget about your day-to-day finances, and just as with investing, Sun Federal can help! Whether it's a savings or checking account, credit card or auto loan, Sun Federal has the tools you need to navigate your daily financial needs. We pride ourselves on working with our members to build their path to financial success, and we are here for you!
By planning and setting financial goals early, you are truly setting yourself up for financial success later in life. While you might feel pressure to feel like you have everything figured out, you absolutely don’t— what matters most is starting, no matter how small of steps you take to do so…so give it a shot!