The thought of living on your own, earning your own money, and spending it any way you want is one of the greatest deceptions about adulthood. Sure, it happens, too, but there’s more to adulting than that.
The transition to adulthood entails a lot of sacrifices and responsibilities. A lot of decision-making and consequence-reaping if you always mess up. And while adulthood may give you a greater sense of freedom and power, it also gives you greater responsibilities.
Before anything else, pay yourself first.
You’ve probably heard this a lot from grown-ups and you might be wondering what it means. Simply put, it means that you better secure your future before anything else. This is the very first step to financial stability and in most cases, if done right, financial freedom, too.
Here are some ways that you can pay yourself first:
Set aside money regularly for your retirement. It’s never too early to start preparing for your golden years. If you start in your 20s, the money you save will gain interest. Its interest will in turn gain more interest and so on because of compound interest. Start young and make time one of your greatest allies.
Build an emergency fund. Ideally, your emergency fund should be enough to tide you over for three to six months in case you lose your job or encounter some unexpected and unfortunate event, such as this coronavirus pandemic.
Set up a bank account buffer. We understand that it’s no fun to save your hard-earned money and not enjoy it. But trust us, a bank account buffer — a sort of mini-savings account or emergency fund — kept in a checking account will help keep your mind at ease in case your landlord decides to cash in your check way before you get your next salary.
Train yourself to live within your means.
When you start earning your own money, the temptation to spend it on things you want is very real. But understand that part of growing up is learning to be responsible with your resources, especially money. While your dream of buying a Subaru is within your reach, keep in mind that maintaining a car costs a lot of money, too. You need to consider how much a Subaru brake repair will cost or your annual registration and insurance. If keeping a car is not feasible at this time, don’t force it. It’s the same thing with everything else. You need to learn how to live within your means and not go over it so you don’t end up broke or in debt.
Keep track of your expenses.
Don’t buy on impulse. Wait at least three days before making a huge purchase.
Learn how to budget and figure out how much discretionary income you have left to enjoy.
Have a plan for the future.
Part of being a responsible adult is learning how to plan for your life. Your main plan needs a back-up plan and your back-up plans should also have contingency plans. And although no one can be fully prepared for what the future has in store (like this pandemic we’re in that no one could have predicted a year ago), it is always good to have something to fall back on.
Build good credit as early as you can. It takes about seven years to build good credit. Even if you have no plans of buying a house or a car, having a good credit standing will get you the best rates and could save you thousands of dollars in your future transactions.
Check your credit report every year.
Get insurance for additional protection. Don’t look at it as an added expense but rather think of it as an investment and asset protection. In a world filled with so much uncertainty, having insurance will help give you peace of mind.
Set financial goals.
Let’s say you’ve already built an emergency fund good for at least 6 months. You’re also consistently setting money aside for your retirement savings. You have good credit standing and are insured.
This is the time that you can start setting other financial goals. Perhaps it’s for a house or a car. Maybe it’s for that dream vacation you’ve always wanted. Or maybe for a future business endeavor. Whatever it is, set goals that will excite you and motivate you to work harder and be as productive as you can. After all, what’s the point of working hard if you can’t play hard, right?
If you’re only in your 20s, it might seem to take a long time to achieve your goals. Don’t fret. Don’t get impatient. Just wait, even if most of your goals seem out of reach.
If you’re not making much, saving a ton of money will take a lot of time. Just be faithful with the little things. The small amount you set aside for your future will add up and become substantial soon. You just need to be patient.
Still think adulting is a romantic concept? This is the real cost of adulthood. You need to make the necessary sacrifices if you want to stay ahead in life and enjoy it.