8 Financial Mistakes to Avoid (in your 20s & 30s)
While I'm sure your parents have given you money lectures many times, there are still many holes in a young person's financial education. When you're in your 20s and 30s, you're excited to build the life you envisioned for yourself but may not realize that there are specific financial hurdles that need to be completed in order to get you where you want to go in life.
Brad Sherman from Investopedia recently wrote a piece in Business Insider about planning your financial life in your 20s and 30s, and how using basic financial planning practices can get you to the moon in no time. But by learning what not to do, you will in turn learn what should be done.
These are the 8 most common financial planning mistakes made by people in their 20s and 30s:
1. No Budget
A budget may seem restrictive, but it's for your own good. This prevents you from overspending on things that may prevent you from paying your rent or your bills. Keep track of when each payment is due, and be sure to make sure you don't deplete your account before that.
2. No Credit Rating
If you've always used your parents' credit cards when you were in high school or college, you have no credit rating of your own. Without credit, or poor habits that lead to a poor credit score, you could end up paying thousands of dollars in extra interest on a mortgage or an auto loan, plus your insurance premiums are generally higher because you're a risk to the insurance company. Build credit by having 1-2 credit cards and be sure to pay off the balances. Never miss or be late on payments - this will wreck your score in no time.
3. Living on Credit Cards
Credit cards can be great for big purchases to get points, but if you let them get out of control you're going to LOSE points on your credit score. Try your best not to keep a balance on any of your credit cards and live off of cash as best you can. Credit cards are important for helping to build your credit score when you're young and as a way to "borrow money" when you really need it.
4. Not Paying Yourself First
This doesn't mean giving yourself an allowance to spend on whatever you want after you get a paycheck. Think of it as paying your future self. Relying on Social Security to get you through retirement is a bad idea; you need something to supplement it, especially if you plan to do big things when you stop working, like traveling the world or buying a boat. Put money into savings and also contribute to your company's 401(k) plan. Don't put all of that savings in the same account.
5. No Emergency Fund
It's hard to imagine needing funds for an emergency when you are young, but it's a reality that anyone can be fired or laid-off from a company and be stuck with no way to pay your bills. Keeping 3-6 months worth of expenses is important because you never know what might happen. Many people make an emergency fund in the event that they lose their job, but what if your dog needs surgery? Or a storm like Hurricane Sandy blows through and your bicycle gets washed away? Or a loved one is sick in a city far away and you need to fly there to be there for them? The point is, you never know. If you want some more advice on emergency funds, CLICK HERE.
6. No Health Insurance
Many young people skimp on insurance, and even insurance provided by their employer, simply because they don't want to shell out the extra cash. Thanks to Obamacare, it's now mandated that you have health insurance or pay a penalty tax to the IRS each year. There are tons of cheap plans out there and it won't break the bank. If you're in a car accident (that was YOUR fault), a skiing accident, a boating accident, a hunting accident, etc. you could easily owe medicals bills matching student loan debt. Get yourself health insurance now matter how young and healthy you are now.
7. Not Setting Financial Goals
Any financial goals are better than none. Think about where you want to go and set a plan that will get you there in a reasonable amount of time. No, "I want to win" the lottery is not a goal. Things like "I want to pay off all my credit cards in 2 years" or "I want to save $3,000 by the end of next year to travel to Australia." These can sometimes be fun to plan, so think about what you want to achieve, write them down, and put the plan to action.
8. Using a Commission-Based Investing Site or a Non-Fiduciary Advisor
While I believe it is never too late for someone to become financially literate, there are so many gaps in the world of financial planning that having an extra set of eyes to help out is imperative. Non-fiduciaries are not required to disclose the fact that they are pushing financial products on you that they get a huge commission for selling, but at the same time the product may be completely wrong for you and even cause you to lose money. Make sure a fiduciary advisor is helping you; if the law doesn't make them trustworthy, the market and education will.