Money Tips for Young People Starting Out

Learning from experience is smart. We should all learn from mistakes as well as simply pick up knowledge and wisdom as we get older. That said, if we can get good advice early on – AND follow it – we should be ahead of the game.

Along those lines, I think it’s good to be able to offer financial advice to people younger, even if old enough that they’re just out of college and just starting out. Some of you might be at that stage now, or may have family at that point in life.  I came across an article on US News that offers some good advice for those starting out, and below I’ll share the tips as well as my own opinion on each.

  1. Save one-third of your income.  You know, at first glance this seems really hard to do for most people just starting out.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it. However, I also made choices that made such an accomplishment unlikely – the primary one being graduating college and then moving to another city rather than going back to my home area. Living at home after college, if that’s an option, can truly help someone save one third of income. In many cultures and/or families, it’s no big deal and very normal to be living with Mom and Dad at that age. Why does it have to be weird and seem like freeloading? I say that despite not doing that myself.
  2. Don’t be stingy with career-related investments.  I tend to agree with this. There are people that tend to think that once a person graduates from college, the need to invest in continual learning is over.  Well, that’s not true, as we need to keep learning to make money. This could mean spending money to invest in yourself to get an edge in your career, or give you time to do so.
  3. Cultivate ambitious dreams.  Again, I agree. With life ahead of you, there are so many possibilities. Why not try to shoot for the stars? If you land a bit lower, it’s still better than where you’ll end up if you aim low. It’s doesn’t get easier when you get older, as you have less time and more responsibilities.
  4. Pay off all but the cheapest student loans early.  Makes sense to me.  After reading about senior citizens with student loans, I think it’s a great idea to eradicate debt and work on becoming debt-free. There’s freedom involved in that situation!
  5. Don’t wait to start investing until you have extra money.  The earlier you start, the better off you’ll be in the long run.  The power of compounding on money is staggering, check it out!
  6. Give back on your own terms.  I agree on both parts of that: giving, and on your own terms.  I of course support helping others, as I’ve gone over here countless times. That said, nobody should force you into it and often times we might want to be careful to make sure that an organization we give to will actually use our money in a way we are comfortable with.

In addition to those tips provided, I have four more than came to mind, to make a combined list of 10 tips.  Here are my own additional four tips:

  1. Don’t give in to financial peer pressure.  People of all ages can be tempted to keep up with the Joneses. I would suggest not worrying about competing with others in terms of how much money they seem to have, where they live, and so on. Be aware of what’s possible, and be inspired. But don’t give in to pressure to keep up appearances, and don’t get sidetracked with unnecessary social competition
  2. Behave responsibly and be nice to people.  Besides being the right thing to do, it’s also smart not to be obnoxious.  With people getting googled by employers, and social media being used as a platform for many things, it’s best to think about ramifications if the world knew about what transgressions you commit. Because, that’s potentially but a few clicks away.
  3. Don’t waste time on Mr. or Miss Wrong.  Easier said than done, I realize :) Of course, many of us have seen people spend inordinate time when young dating or chasing the wrong person. I heard a story of a friend of friend who turned down a massive job offer in order to stay with someone who was dating. Who, of course, kicked him to the curb within 2 weeks. Ouch! Big money and career opportunity gone in a flash.
  4. Build your network.  Don’t burn bridges, build them instead.  The world is getting smaller, so it’s more important than ever to be a giver and think proactively with your network.

Comments

  1. says

    When I first became gainfully employed after university, I owed money to my mother, my girlfriend, and the bank (student loans). I was so poor I once sold a few stamps from my collection to buy food. (Really!) Saving was not an option, in my mind, until I’d repaid, in this order, the girlfriend and my Mom. I didn’t start getting my head above water until I moved to a much cheaper apartment and paid off the debts except the student loans. Soon though, due to pay raises at work and focus on controlling my living expenses, I was saving nearly half my pay. That felt really, really good.

  2. says

    Save one third of your income is great if you still live with the parents, but if you are independent of them, it’s a little harder. In my first couple years of school I was living on my own and had a lot of stuff I needed to spend money on – food, transportation, rent, and tuition – I couldn’t even save 1/10 of my income.

  3. says

    These are all great tips. I would add to it the thing that really did me in for my first 2 years out of college: when you go from having absolutely no money to have a paycheck (any paycheck!), you suddenly feel like you can afford anything. When you’re used to going to the dining hall for your meals and spending your nights studying or going to a campus party, you don’t have any concept of how much those things cost. Plenty of young adults enter into the real world having never made a budget, or even thought about income vs. expenses, and all of a sudden money starts flowing in, so they start buying things. So I would add “start budgeting immediately” to the list. Your early years are crucially important when it comes to building up savings, and it’s too easy to spend everything you make without even realizing where all the money is going.

  4. says

    These are some great tips, but I especially like # 3. Too many talk themselves out of doing something, because they believe it’s not possible. It’s the people who try anyways who make the difference in our world.

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