The average 20-something year-old is more likely to be thinking about hanging out with their friends and being carefree instead of taking on the responsibilities of adulthood.
The movie character Ferris Bueller was right when he said that life moves pretty fast. But if you stop and look around too much when you're young, you can miss out later when it's not as easy to start saving for the future.
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Here are some reasons to forgo those party-hearty summers at the beach and brand new sports car, and opt for a game plan early rather than struggle later in life.
It's never too late to go back to school. But if you have the opportunity to do so when you're young, you'll get a head start on your career and your future. However, as any new graduate knows, a diploma doesn't guarantee a job, especially in the current economy. Rethinking one's academic focus or entering a course of study where job opportunities are more abundant may lead to a more successful career path.
Delaying or avoiding higher education can present a whole other set of issues. According to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, by 2020 there will be very few opportunities for workers who only have a high school diploma or have dropped out of school, and the demand for college-educated workers will keep rising until then.
If you have completed your degree and landed a job, you're ahead of the game. But it may not be enough to build a foundation for the future. Make it a point to take continuing education courses in your chosen profession whenever possible. Stay up-to-date on new technology and programs, develop new contacts and relationships with people in your profession and acquire skills that might help you climb the corporate ladder a little easier and make your road to the future less bumpy.
You sure would look great cruisin' in that shiny new sports car. And you worked hard during college so you definitely need some time off before taking on the task of full-time work: clubbing on the weekends, partying away your paycheck and cramming your closet with all the latest styles is definitely the life for you. After all, there's plenty of time to settle down, right? Wrong. The reality is that leading a carefree "I want it now" lifestyle can land you into big debt.
Now is the time to start making changes in your spending habits: be creative with what's already in your wardrobe, cook dinner for yourself instead of going out and invite friends over instead of going out to the clubs. You'd be surprised how little changes will make a big difference in savings. (To learn more, read It's Never Too Early To Start Saving.)
Stashing away some cash isn't high on the priority list for most 20-somethings. In fact, the Pew Research Center showed that less than three out of 10 people in that age range consider themselves regular savers. The biggest reason: they don't have the means to do so. Many have student loans to pay off or are in low-paying jobs. But again, little changes can make a difference. Re-evaluating your finances is the first step to building a nest egg, even if you have to start small. Open a savings account at the local bank or set up an automatic withdrawal from your paycheck each week, with the amount going straight to your savings, rather than a checking account, which can be easily depleted. Talk to your employer about retirement plans, if available, or set up an appointment with a financial adviser to set a course of action.
Almost everything you do now will affect your credit rating down the road. And that will determine your eligibility for a mortgage, refinancing (if you get that far), ability to get a loan and in some cases, even employment. Use your credit cards wisely, paying off what you owe in a timely manner. And pay your other bills on time without accruing finance or late charges whenever possible.
The Bottom Line
Your 20s is the perfect time to start thinking about your future financial well-being, even if it means taking baby steps to get going. It can almost always ensure an easier road later on in life. (For more, check out Anytime Is The Right Time To Start Saving For Retirement.)
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