Embarking on your twenties means occasional recklessness is required. Parties, concerts, splurging on those amazing shoes that you cannot afford is all a part of the learning experience. As we make memories we don’t always think long-term about the important things like managing money. Some of us may think of it as something we don’t need to do until our thirties, but that’s not the case. Here are some budgeting tips to start thinking about in your twenties.
1. Create a priorities list
Create a list for yourself organizing all possible categories that your spending habits may fall in and consider the most important to the least. Categorize and label these priorities like transportation if you need gas money or to pay off a car loan, or groceries if you need to calculate how much you spend on food a week. Once you categorize these spending habits, you learn what is most important and can set a weekly budget for how much you spend on each.
2. Start a savings account
Starting a rainy-day fund now is important and you will thank yourself later. Putting a little bit of your pay check aside each time will start to accumulate and you will eventually have some emergency cash if you are in a bind. When your apartment floods and your stuff is ruined, this will cover what your insurance won’t.
3. Mark your calendar
If you are a shopaholic like me, you can’t stay away from your favorite shopping sites for long and budgeting tips like these become even more important. To ease your spending a bit, check to see when your favorite stores like to do their major sales. Keep an eye on your email and set a strict rule with yourself to only shop when they have a sale. Your wallet will thank you.
4. Set goals for yourself
If you feel like your spending is getting out of hand, or if there is something you have been dreaming to buy like a new car or looking to finally get your own place, set goals for yourself. Give yourself deadlines and spending goals to curb your shopping a bit. That way you can keep yourself in check.
5. Make a plan
Where do you see yourself in ten years? It’s not just a question for job interviews. Set up a plan for yourself in terms of where you see yourself in the near future. Do you see yourself moving up in your career or is this just a temporary job to earn some cash? Create a rough timeline as to where you see your life going and plan accordingly.
6. Mentally remind yourself
Keeping yourself in check and following budgeting tips can be quite hard when trying to save money. Through time, you will eventually learn to self-budget on little things like groceries or sale items. Mentally reminding yourself that you don’t need to spend as much money as you do is sometimes necessary. We all can talk ourselves into making a purchase we shouldn’t, but creating that discipline is an important step.
7. Learn about the snowball method
Saving money and setting money aside can be frustrating because we think about that amazing dress some of that money could have bought. This is when thinking long term comes in handy because in time, you will see your savings accumulate at a rate you couldn’t have imagined. When college or credit card debt rolls around, you can apply this same method, also called the snowball method, to paying these debts off. Working at it a little at a time when you can will give you some motivation and peace of mind.
8. Baby steps
For those who aren’t used to saving cash or setting money aside, start slowly. A few dollars here and there, walking away from something you want but don’t need will gradually help you to save some cash. It’s the little steps like following budgeting tips that will make you money-smart in the long run.
9. Learn about spending shortcuts
Knowing you need to save money is one thing, but learning tips and tricks is a feat in and of itself. Learn some nifty ways to limit your spending. Instead of purchasing movies and books you have been eyeing, check your local library. Grow a small garden in your backyard to keep you from running to the grocery store as often. Little things here and there will help you to save more and more.
10. Consider side jobs
This is something we often did in high school when our parents wanted us to learn about working for our money and appreciating the hard work we put in. That doesn’t end, even after college. Picking up a side job here and there is something some of us will inevitably have to do to make sure we have extra cash.
11. Treat yourself sometimes
Budgeting your spending means walking away from a lot of things that you really, really want. One way to keep yourself in high spirits is to occasionally splurge on something you have been dying to get. It’s always good for personal morale to reward yourself (a little!) for behaving financially.
12. Always stay ahead on your bills
This is a given, but for some people, it is much easier said than done. Keeping ahead of your bills is crucial in terms of your credit score and to prevent burying yourself in possible debt. It unfortunately happens all the time to people who don’t pay attention to their own spending habits, so make sure you stay on top of it.
13. Read up
If you are a beginner budgeter, don’t be afraid to read up on some nifty budgeting articles and books from financial professionals. Have some books handy to help you navigate the financial world because, honestly, a lot of it is over our heads. And that’s okay.
14. Learn to live within your means
There is a common issue that I like to associate with the herd mentality. When we are shopping with our girlfriends, we can often get talked into a purchase we wouldn’t otherwise make if we didn’t have an audience or someone telling us how bomb we would look in that outfit. Seeing your friends spend money almost unconsciously convinces us to spend our money and that can be dangerous. So learn to mentally remove yourself from that temptation and walk away from the mannequin.
15. Remember to invest in yourself
Saving your hard-earned cash and strictly abiding by budgeting tips means that you can move into that house or buy that car later in your life. So, by saving that money you are investing in yourself and literally banking on your success and in turn seeing your success as long-term. Treat yourself with the same optimism and respect you would treat an up-and-coming company and believe in yourself.