Most of what I write about has to do with the millenial experience because this group is often criticized in the media for being lazy and careless. I’m 25, and that means that by social psychology standards, I am due for a quarter life crisis anytime soon. I don’t want it to be because of poor financial decisions, and I wouldn’t want that happening to anyone else because they didn’t know what to do. After having spoken to a few of my older colleagues and reflected on my own experiences, I have a list of 7 of the best “money moves” someone in their (early or late) twenties can make to set themselves on the path of being financially sound.
- Retirement accounts – I know it’s a little weird for any twenty-something year old to think about retirement because it’s so far away. I felt that way too, but ask anyone who is about to retire or whose already retired and I guarantee that 7/10 of those people will say that they wish they started thinking about retirement earlier. Pensions, high interest savings account, and money market funds are reliable options. What you need to pay attention to, is that the return on your investment should at least be on par with the inflation rate in your region, otherwise your money is losing its value.
The second criteria for choosing a retirement account is, the account should NOT be easily accessible. You want to make it as hard as possible to access that money because you’re only going to be accessing it close to your retirement. Signing up for a personal pension is a great shortcut because the rates are often higher than inflation, your money is protected (you are penalized from accessing it earlier) & it has tax advantages – think about it…
- Don’t Buy a Car until you ABSOLUTELY have to – Cars are the ultimate symbol for any twenty year old that they’ve “made it” – they are now adults. There’s this big illusion of “freedom” sold with every car to twenty-year olds. Once you get a car you’ll be able to go anywhere, right? Wrong. Cars are not symbols of freedom, they’re the opposite, because they saddle you with debt and high monthly repayment amounts (if you buy a car through a loan). Your money could have been used to invest in assets that ACTUALLY APPRECIATE over time instead of your car payments. On top of the monthly repayments, add in the cost of insurance, fuel & maintenance, and the cost of owning and operating a car quickly add up if you didn’t plan for it better. If you must buy a car, buy a used car that is in good condition so that you don’t pay over-the-odds for an asset that loses around 7-9% of its value every year.
- Invest in your education – Nothing you learn is ever wasted, no matter how remote & disconnected it is from your career. Learning never stops and you should learn widely. There are benefits earned that go beyond a bump in your salary. When you are an adult, educating yourself also means meeting like minded individuals a.k.a networking. Creating meaningful connections never hurt anybody, especially if you are early in your career, the people you meet can have a large presence on your future.
- Own a company (or at least become a part owner) – This is quite simple. Buy some stocks of a company. You will make mistakes and that is FINE. You have lots of time to make that money up. This changes your mindset from being a consumer to being a someone who wants to add value in from the things they do and ensuring you do things with an intention. But before you invest, know your own reasons and read up on the companies you want to become a part-owner in. Ignorance is NOT BLISS when it comes to losing money. Be prepared and learn but don’t stop.
- Invest in your craft – Your craft is a pursuit outside your job that you are dedicate time to work on. Hobbies are easily abandoned but your craft is pure and it gives you a sense of pride. For me, its about learning and sharing as much as I can about personal finance so that people share their experiences. If you are a budding photographer and that expensive lens will take your photos to the next level, go ahead, take that leap & buy it because you’ll regret it if you don’t. If you cannot afford it now, save up for, take up a hustle and get that lens.
- Start a business & sell anything – This is something that I have done recently and heard Gary Vaynerchuck speak about – GaryVee is awesome, if you don’t follow him, please start, he is THE MAN. Don’t know what to sell? It doesn’t matter. Just sell something, anything -that will teach you a lot about yourself, your abilities, people, how to sell & most importantly what NOT to do. Knowing how to sell is the #1 or #2 biggest skill you can have in any generation. Your business or side-hustle may or may not succeed BUT you will learn so much & whatever loss you make will be made up many times over. However, you may never get a chance to start your business again once you have ” adult responsibilities”.You cannot beat experience, & you learn more from your losses. There is no better teacher than failure – I would know because I’ve failed a few times and I hated it. And I’m determined not to fail in the same way but if I do (rather when I do), I will fail fast, fail forward and fail better. Our culture is so anti-failure that we shy away from it but it’s a part of life. We need to get up and learn from our failures so I wish you all to fail fast & fail forward. I believe in you!
- Spend it your money on your loved ones – Nothing on this list will give you as much joy as this. It is the #1 tip to making sure spending money makes you happy. I believe humans are selfish but we also love to share; I know that is sounds like an oxymoron but just hear me out. Sharing gives us joy & I truly believe it’s how we are wired since birth. We get immense joy sharing food with our friends, sharing our time & memories with our dear ones, and sharing our feelings. Spending money on your loved ones will do wonders for you. However, make sure you don’t buy them things they don’t need. You are not trying to buy their love but you are trying to make their life a little easier in your own way. Be mindful & disciplined about how you are spending and know that whatever it is you are spending on, that person will appreciate the time you two share more than any gift, so make sure you give them your time and attention, and be present in that moment for them!
If there are any other money moves that I may have missed, please share your thoughts and comments below. I would love to hear from readers and any feedback would be highly appreciated!