When you’re in your 20s, you probably aren’t thinking about retirement, an emergency fund or budgeting your dollars. But should you be?
The easy answer is yes, as what you’re doing in your 20s can determine not only how much money you have but the ability to make smart decisions about that same money.
You also can’t discount being helped along the way, either. For instance, if you’re parents are helping you with paying your bills or they’re making it a point to pay utilities or for your cell phone, you as the 20 something year old need to consider cutting that cord for once, so you can learn how to budget for yourself.
If you have a job, and are making money, but mom and dad are paying rent and utilities, and that money in your paycheck goes to this and that, with no real semblance of order behind it, then you really aren’t budgeting per say but rather relying on income that eventually will go away as you get older (at least that is mom and dad’s plan).
The better option is to take your income and expenses and start putting together a budget solely depending on your wage, minus your parents. This will tell you two things: whether you can actually afford your lifestyle and also force you to make decisions about where your money is going.
That budget also will allow you to build a savings account, rather than haphazardly spending on something other than putting aside that proverbial “nest egg.” The always-important emergency fund pays as you get older and have a home or responsibilities that continue to mount. Rather than borrow the money, you can have it available, minus the ill effects of the loan.
In addition to coming up with a budget that works for you and leaving mom and dad out of it, you also should consider the future. Believe it or not, you’ll eventually (and quickly) get to the point where you’re about to retire and those thoughts need implanted in your money habits as soon as possible.
If your company or job offers a retirement plan, take advantage of it and invest fully, particularly if the company is willing to contribute in some form or fashion. When you budget properly and invest fully, you won’t miss the money that is coming out of your paycheck, and be glad you decided to when it comes time to call it a career.
This isn’t to suggest that you have to live your 20s like your 30 years older than what you are, but money decisions should never be age specific.