Have the irresponsible decisions you’ve made while in your 20s left you with piles of debt and other repercussions?
Lucky for you, there’s hope!
Here are six of the most common mistakes people make while in their 20s and how to fix them:
- The mistake: Racking up credit card debt. When all of life’s pleasures are just a swipe away, it’s easy to rack up huge credit card bills.
- The fix: Stop using your credit cards. Create a budget to monitor your discretionary spending. Stop swiping credit cards and stick to debit or cash only.
- The mistake: Ignoring your credit score. Aggressive credit card usage may have handicapped your credit score, making getting a large loan difficult. A poor score will also burden you with an unfavorable interest rate for these loans.
- The fix: Know your score and pay down your credit card debt. Begin by monitoring your score through annualcreditreport.com or sites like CreditKarma.com. Next, work on paying off credit card debt instead of only making the minimum payments. Choose one bill to pay down first and make the largest payment your budget allows. Once you’ve paid it off, work on the next bill until you’ve paid it off and repeat until there’s no more debt.
- The mistake: Skipping student loan bills. When you’re facing a huge debt and have an entry-level salary, it’s tempting to just pretend the debt doesn’t exist.
- The fix: Work it into your budget. Call your lender to work out a more feasible payment plan and check if you qualify for a student loan forgiveness program. Most importantly, make payments a part of your debt payment plan so you never miss a payment again.
- The mistake: Neglecting your retirement. Neglecting your retirement means missing out on years of compound interest gains.
- The fix: Think of it as a fixed expense. Think of retirement savings as a necessary, fixed expense that must be worked into your budget like rent. Work with the most you can afford and max out your IRA or contributions to your company’s 401(k) plan.
- The mistake: Not having an emergency fund. Scrambling for funds to pay for a large medical expense or to live off of during an unexpected layoff can be a nightmare.
- The fix: Start small. Work with whatever you can to make monthly contributions to an emergency fund. Keep your emergency money in an account that offers an attractive earnings rate, but allows you to withdraw funds without penalty.
- The mistake: Not creating financial goals. It’s understandable not to have your entire life planned out yet, but it’s important to set some financial goals.
- The fix: Create goals now. Do you want to buy a house within the next decade? Are you hoping to retire by 55? Having a concrete goal in mind will help you manage your money more responsibly.