I was a mom before I ever hit my 20’s, and we did not have much money. I don’t regret that time of my life in the least, but I have learned a few things all young adults should know.
My daughters are now in their mid 20’s. Both have been known to hold down two jobs at once, and they know how to stretch a dollar. One has told me on a couple of occasions that adulting is not fun. She is right, in a way. You have to work at having a good life, and this usually begins in the young adult years. It can be rough, trying to make ends meet, even at my age.
I was recently introduced to Personal Capital and was inspired to write a checklist of both fun and serious things people in their 20’s and 30’s should do. I felt it would be an interesting way to show you all what could be done at this time in your life to create a better future. Included are a couple of things I wish I’d done, from a financial perspective.
___ 1. Take a road trip with friends. A weekend, a week, or a summer. Whatever you can afford. Hang out. Meet new people. Appreciate other ways of life, if you go far enough. Your state is bigger than you’ve seen, as is your country. Make it about having fun, in a safe way.
___ 2. Keep in contact with friends and family who move away. Later you will appreciate this. It is nice to reconnect with people when you hit your 40’s, but it would be better to stay in contact from the start.
___ 3. Start a savings account, and don’t dip into it. Saving just $5.00 per week would give you $260.00 a year, $2,600 after 10 years, $6,500 after 25 years, and $13,000 after 50 years. This is may not seem like much, but every little bit will help in retirement. And you could be earning interest, giving you even more money to look forward to. As you start earning more, up how much you are saving each week. You’ll be happy you did.
___ 4. Learn about investing: Stocks, bonds, IRA’s, and more. Decide on your comfort level of risk, and start investing for your future. Also, consider investing in causes you believe in.
___ 5. Get your first home. Do this as affordably as possible, keeping in mind that you will eventually have a family. To cut costs consider roommates, but be firm about what you expect. Choose people you already trust if you can. The money you get from roommates may be enough to cover the house payments, while you concentrate on the utilities. Or you might split everything equally.
___ 6. Learn about side hustles for extra money. You never know, one might turn into a profitable career.
___ 7. Learn to be as frugal as possible, and use the money you save toward your vacations. Why not have a little fun. If that means all you get is a long weekend at a cottage near the ocean, and you must cook your own meals, so be it. Enjoy your time away.
___ 8. Make fitness a priority. It is good for your health. Try hiking, skiing, jogging, biking, and other fun activities. Get friends together and have fun while staying fit.
___ 9. Eat healthy, for the most part. This is also important part of keeping your body healthy. Make it fun by learning different cooking and other food preparation techniques with friends. When you decide to eat out, join friends at places where healthy options are available. I’m not saying you can’t have that pizza once in a while, just make sure you are eating healthy most of the time. Leave the processed foods alone, and see what delicious recipes you can come up with from healthy food choices.
___ 10. Learn to grow food. It will save you money, but growing organic food will also help you to stay healthy. Start small and work your way up. Think of all the delicious foods you can make, and how much food you can put up for the winter. Food you wont have to pay for during the time of year when so many people are working less hours.
There are so many more fun and useful things I could add to this list, but these are the main points I wanted to cover. It is important to have fun, but necessary to also build your future. No one will do that for you.
Work is important.
Fun is also important, and should be had every so often.
What does your life checklist look like? Don’t have one? Maybe it is time you do.
Mine includes so many things. I’ll share a few here:
- Publish the ‘Camp Series’, a series of stories I have written. (Done!)
- Be sure I am set up in a small house, with a basement apartment that is handicap accessible in case my parents need it when they are older.
- Live as off-grid as possible.
- Be a weight I am comfortable with.
- Own a piece of art from an artist I admire. (Done!)
- Have a $5,000 emergency fund.
- Zero debt.
- Learn to make my own (healthy) ice cream. (Done!)
- Go on a multi day hike.
- Go on a walking foodie tour.
Each person list will be different. Mine has over 100 items, and it keeps growing. I mark things off and add a description as I do things. I also include ways in which I want to to help others, so it isn’t all about me.