Your 20s are for self-discovery and establishing your place in the world. But more importantly, they’re also a life stage in which, if you’re not careful, financial mistakes you make could haunt you well into your 30s and potentially derail your dreams for the future.
Katie Brewer, a certified financial planner and coach, says the ‘Superman Complex’ many millennials suffer from triggers the notion that we’re invincible.
The downside of this is that important decisions we should proactively be making in these years are put on hold.
“Themes such as Yolo (you only live once) have penetrated the millennial generation, and saving isn’t the cool hipster thing to do,” Brewer told The Simple Dollar.
Not starting a retirement savings account
It’s understandable that at the age of 23, the thought of retirement couldn’t be further from your mind.
As an entry-level worker climbing the corporate ladder you’re probably not fetching the big bucks yet and you may be straddled with student loan debt, so putting money aside for you to have access to more than four decades later is likely to be low on your list of priorities.
This, says Brewer, is possibly one of the biggest mistakes you can make and it could be the difference between living comfortably in retirement and running out of money.
“Unfortunately a lot of people in their twenties are still battling student loan debt and are accumulating expenses instead of savings. This is the age when weddings, baby showers and first-time home buying becomes a priority instead of retirement saving,” she says.
Deciding on how much you can afford to part with for retirement savings and setting a monthly debit order instruction that becomes part and parcel of your budget will help take the sting out of parting with your hard-earned cash.
Essentially, don’t forget to pay yourself first and remember you’ll get a tax rebate for having a retirement annuity policy.
Trying to keep up with the Khumalos
Once you start earning a salary, clothing retailers and financial institutions alike will just about fall over themselves with offers of store credit, credit cards and personal loans.
Just because the offer is out there doesn’t mean you have to accept it.
The aspirational desire to own a hot new car, that funky curved flat screen TV or don the most fashionable brands will hurt you in the long run if you’re spending more than you earn.
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Plug consumer debt as early as possible to ensure you’re not still trying to clear outstanding debt in your late twenties or early thirties when you’re trying to save towards a deposit for your first home.
Pay cash for as much as you can – you’ll be happy you did when you learn how much extra money you’re spending on interest.
Not getting life insurance
While you might be single, childless and in good health, the simple fact of the matter is your situation will change over time.
You’re bound to age, and with the ageing process comes a higher risk of developing health conditions.
Your youth is in fact an asset and this is how you should view life insurance in your 20s.
Signing up early means you will be locked into premiums far lower than those you’d pay if you start a life policy in your 30s.
Failing to start an emergency fund
Life is full of inevitable setbacks and unbudgeted costs, so building up a rainy day fund will never be a waste of time.
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Financial planners suggest keeping an amount equivalent to at least six months of expenses for that unexpected car repair or in the event of something more serious like losing your job or a medical emergency.
Falling for get-rich-quick scams
If it sounds too good to be true, the reality is that it probably is. This is a concept that millennials need to be aware of particularly in the times we live in where questionable online forex trading courses are the order of the day.
Speaking to Talk Radio 702, Sam Beckbessinger, author of Manage Your Money like a F***ing Grownup (Jonathan Ball),says too many young people fall these get-rich-schemes that appear to be a dime a dozen.
“Young people definitely are susceptible to these schemes partly because they haven’t had the hard lessons in life yet,” she said.
“The scheme that I’ve heard a lot of young people fall for is online forex trading courses. A lot of these things you can only fund using bitcoin and it turns out the only reason you can use bitcoin is because the banks have shut down their bank accounts because they’re dodgy. Unfortunately we haven’t learnt yet to identify scams.”