Blogger Grace Boyle of Small Hands, Big Ideas discusses the dangers of spending too much early on in life and how to successfully manage your money.
I experienced this. I had just graduated college, I was in a new place, and I felt so sophisticated and mature.
I had a regular paycheck, a salary, a 401k, and consistent benefits. I was 22, and I thought I was set.
I see it all the time — just because we have all of the above, we forget the thrifty, frugal nature of how we were in college or when we were younger. I think it's one of the biggest mistakes you make in your 20s. We tend to overestimate how far our paychecks can take us and blow too much on apartments, trips, clothing, and wining and dining. We then assume we aren't making enough or that we are somehow poor again.
All of a sudden, we assume we're making nothing. We can't understand how it's close to $0 in our bank account at the end of each month. We're complaining and lamenting.
Just because you're making more than you did before or you're just making money consistently period, doesn't mean you can splurge all the time.
Financial experts suggest it's OK to keep living like a college student for a few more years. That sounds bad; I'm talking about living a little below your means. In doing so, you can get a better handle on what you're able to afford, your level of debt, and create a budget for yourself so you can build up your savings.
Wait, what about saving?
"No matter how much or how little you make, always save a little bit."
Start somewhere. Put aside something each month. For instance, I have an automated amount go into my savings account each month (from my checking account), and after a while, I stopped noticing that the amount was being dispersed and now I have a nice chunk of change in my savings . . . slowly but surely.
*Note: If you put $4,000 a year into retirement accounts starting at 22, you could have $1 million by age 62 (assuming eight percent average annual returns).
Your Dollar Is Worth How Much?
I love thinking about how our money is worth more now invested than it will ever be. Let's say you invest $1 when you're 20, it will be 1.75 times more than $1 invested; when you're 30, 3.5 times more than $1 invested, and so forth.
Living below your means doesn't sound sexy. But by doing so, you will be able to live well above your means in the future. But really — "20-somethings are more than twice as likely as older folks to have a negative net worth; one out of four families headed by people aged 20 to 29 owed more than they owned." Let's step away from deprivation but understand what we can cut out and the balance we can obtain to reach financial stability and/or freedom.
Negative net worth and debt aren't sexy either. So why not go the other way and be a little more frugal? Save where you can and still enjoy — because both are definitely possible.
Product Credit: Gap top, Tibi bottom, Banana Republic shoes