7 Money Mistakes To Look Out For In Your 20s
It’s not everyday you feel a deeply spiritual connection to a Snoop Dogg lyric, but has there ever been a truer phrase than “mind on my money, and my money on my mind”? It encapsulates the average 20-something life experience – that money pretty much rules everything. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom however, not if you’re looking out for yourself properly.
It’s probably inevitable that you’ll make a regrettable financial mistake in your lifetime – and that’s fine, mistakes are great when we can learn from them. But there’s something to be said about keeping your ear to the ground and trying your best to avoid these money mistakes. That way it won’t come back to bite you in the butt.
The Every Girl have collated a list of seven very important money mistakes every 20-something should avoid, and we reckon they’re pretty ace. Here’s a few things to keep an eye on.
#1 Not looking out for Future You
It’s the way of the #YOLO: live for today, and forget about tomorrow. But there seems to be a distinct lack of foresight in this strategy – namely, you really should be thinking about your financial future. I know, I know, that sounds like a real hoot, doesn’t it? Actually yes – determining your long-term life and career goals can help you successfully manage your money in the long run, and that’s a big plus.
Think: do you have/want/need a full time job? Do you want to buy a house soon? Do you want to jet off and live as an expat for a few years? Is there a contingency plan if you get fired? Have you got your superannuation sorted? Set aside a day or two to do a little planning, a little thinking and a little investigating – be proactive now and your pockets will be well lined in a few years’ time.
#2 Not working with a budget
It’s official: your brain is actually working against your wallet when it comes to saving. We’re inherently opposed to saving because having new things is fun and exciting and living without those things is sad and depressing, to say the least. But common sense suggests that to set yourself up to be financially fit, you need to spend less than you earn. Enter: a swanky new budget.
Budgeting shouldn’t be the dirty word you’ve built it up to be in your head – instead, you should look at budgeting as a means to keep track of your income and expenses. That way you can be make healthy decisions when it comes to saving and splurging (because everyone loves a splurge). Budgeting shouldn’t mean restrictions – it’s just a way to keep you on track.
#3 Depending on credit cards
The allure of the credit card is born from the belief that it’s like having an endless amount of money at your fingertips. In theory, that’s kind of true. But in reality, it’s the complete opposite.
Relying on credit cards is one of the worst self-sabotaging money habits out there, simply because you often forget about the additional stuff that comes along with it – including loan fees, interest rates and bad credit ratings. The key thing to remember is that you should only use credit cards if you know you can foot the bill, and never use a credit card if you don’t have the cash to repay it straight away.
#4 Not asking for a payrise when you know you deserve it
Asking for a payrise is no walk in the park, and most of us it can be a sweaty, confrontational nightmare. But what’s the alternative? Working your butt off, slogging away in overtime hours and taking on extra tasks for a pay-check that doesn’t adequately compensate you? Nah, screw that.
Demanding what you’re worth shouldn’t be something we shy away from. Instead, we should embrace the awkwardness and suck it up for a well-earned monetary prize. If you’re in need of a little help in that department, check out our guide on how to ask your boss for a payrise here.
#5 Using money to show off
It’s so tempting to show off new and exciting purchases – especially in the age of social media we live in. But it’s also detrimental to fall into the trap of buying expensive things just for the sake of showing them off to everybody. As Kat Boogaard from The Every Girl puts it, you’ve got to remember that your value and self-worth aren’t directly correlated with your finances, so you don’t have to feel pressured to use money as a tangible indicator of how great your life is. “You don’t need to buy that round of drinks for everyone or have the latest iPhone,” she goes on to say. “You’re fantastic regardless,” and you better believe it.
#6 Recklessly spending money you don’t have
When you go from making a pittance at your part-time uni job to a full on “real life” job in your industry, that first paycheque can feel pretty sweet. You might treat yourself to fancy dinners or those new jackets/pants/shoes you’ve been eyeing – and you should, you deserve it. But you should know: there’s a pretty big difference between celebrating and being reckless.
Curb your habits from the beginning by setting up a high interest savings account to store the majority of your savings. Commit to depositing a healthy chunk of your paycheque directly into this account. Soon enough you’ll have a hefty ‘rainy day’ account that’ll act as your monetary security blanket. To be honest, the old ‘out of sight, out of mind’ tactic is a pretty effective way to save.
#7 Thinking that money is the be-all and end-all of life
Remember what The Beatles said? Money can’t buy me love? Yeah, that’s some solid life advice to live by.
As much as we harp on about money and how good it is to have it, you should know that money isn’t synonymous with happiness, success or even security. Being responsible about money is important, yes. But so is spending time with friends, exercising and having a job that makes you want to get up in the morning. No use killing yourself just for a quick buck – you’re better off exploring some other revenue streams and finding what you’re really passionate about.
Rebecca Russo is a freelance writer, editor, community radio dabbler, occasional hiker and celebrity autobiography enthusiast. She has written for online publications including Junkee, AWOL, Fashion Journal and Tone Deaf. Find her online here.
H/t The Every Girl