One of the most daunting and tedious tasks of adult life is financial management – even the simple thought of managing money can feel overwhelming especially if you don’t have a business-based background to give you the rudimentary knowledge of saving and investing. It’s not an easy task to figure out alone so don’t agonize over it if you’re currently moping in this bucket. Here are five simple financial moves you should start with:
It’s easy to overlook the potential crises that can arise when you’re still young and free. You may find yourself pushing the idea of saving into the backseat especially when out with your friends – usually our peak time of spending frivolously on drinks and food just to have a good time. After all, we’re young and we have time to make the money back, right?
No. The fact that you’re young and finally starting your career means you should start building that emergency fund ASAP for unexpected emergencies or major future purchases (like a house).
Sooner or later, we’ll all get to a point where we can’t work anymore and we’ll need to retire, but you won’t get to retire with a savings account alone. Take advantage of the retirement options your employer offers and set aside enough money to maximize your employer’s matching contribution (at minimum). An employer matching contribution is free money – who doesn’t love that? And with the power of compound interest, you’d be shocked at the amount you can amass in a short time period.
Now would also be a good time to understand Compound interest – Interest accrued on an initial deposit/loan + interest – this basically helps your investment grow at a faster rate than normal.
#3 Pay Your Debts.
Fresh out of school (or even a few years after), you’ve probably accrued a bit of debt – student loans, credit cards, and non-revolving debt. You should really tackle these things as soon as you can while you have no other obligations. Start by figuring out how much you owe, the minimum payments you need to make, what you can afford to pay without suffering, and then start paying them. If you find yourself in a little too deep, attempt to pay off your highest interest debts first (most likely your credit card bills). And then avoid any new debt at all costs.
#4 Invest & Diversify.
If you start your “savings trip” early on, you can afford to take on some risk because simply put, you have the time to make your money back. Investing is where your youth will work to your advantage. I’d encourage you to think about other options for putting your money away that are totally unrelated to a traditional savings account at a bank.
There are so many investment vehicles to choose from, you just have to figure out what makes sense in terms of your tolerance for risk and comfort level with investing. You can look into safe options like CDs, bonds, and mutual funds or riskier alternatives like stocks, options, etc. And then diversify (use a combination of these mediums along with your bank savings) to maximize your return.
Don’t spend recklessly – the less you spend the more you can save (duh!). Obviously, you need to pay for your living expenses, pay off your debts, but you should also put at least 10% to savings, and then use the remaining balance for indulging and fun (or better yet, even more savings).