Your 20’s are an insane decade where you get to do a little bit of everything. From gradating college, finding a job, traveling, moving, meeting people, and everything else — it’s epic. But it’s also kind of terrifying and a lot of pressure to get your life together.
Unfortunately, too many people spend all their time in their 20’s “finding themselves.” While you should find what you love, don’t waste your twenties.
Use this decade to set up the rest of your life and still have the most fun ever. Trust me, it’s possible to do both.
Let’s get real, school failed us.
I didn’t learn anything about personal finances when I received my bachelor’s degree. Instead, I learned about pointless subjects like mythology, astrology, and anthropology.
How is money management and personal finance not taught?
This post will be broken into four sections in a similar way to my book, Advice for My Younger Self.
Let’s get a few money lessons out of the way….
Start An Emergency Fund
Establishing an emergency fund should be your #1 priority in your financial life. An emergency fund will be there to save you in case you lose your job, car breaks down or have an unexpected expense.
This is made harder today than ever as the average college student graduates with $37,172.
This isn’t a spend it in Vegas fund (sorry). Even $1,000 saved is setting you up for success if something happens. Trust me, something always happens in your 20’s.
Contribute to Retirement Accounts
College neglected this one as well.
Most people are familiar with a 401K but not as much with a Roth IRA. Both of them are great retirement accounts that will help grow your money over time.
Your 401K will be through your employer and contribute with pre-tax dollars. This means you’ll be taxed once you withdraw the money in retirement.
A Roth IRA is an account you will set up with a brokerage (I recommend Vanguard) and uses post-tax dollars. This means you won’t be taxed again when you retire.
Get started, don’t wait until you are any older.
The longer you wait the more you will miss out on compound interest.
Earn a High Credit Score
Worry about your credit more than your GPA, it will have a much bigger impact on your future than your degree.
Your credit score will follow you through life and determine if you can secure a loan for an apartment, car, house, and credit cards.
Make sure you don’t max out credit cards, never miss a payment, and don’t use them to spend money you don’t have in your savings. The higher your score, the lower your loans will be and you will save thousands in your lifetime.
Use a free site like Credit Karma to check your credit and find ways to increase your score.
Create a Budget
With apps like Mint and Personal Capital, it’s much easier to track your money than when I was 20 years old. The only way to become wealthy is to earn more than you spend.
If you earn $100,000 and spend $95,000 you’re now in a worse position than someone who earns $70,000 and spends $50,000.
Use Balance Transfers
I started using zero percent credit card balance transfers when I was 23 years old. I had no job, finally graduated college and had less than $2,000 to my name. I used a 0% balance transfer to buy necessities without having to pay interest for 12 months.
Some people will disagree with using them. But, if you’re smart with your money and pay off the balance it’s nearly free money.
Track Your Net Worth
I’ve written extensively about tracking my net worth and dedicated an entire chapter of my book to the topic. This is such a great way to stay on top of your finances and understand your habits each month.
Tracking your net worth will also help you set goals, save money, quit excessive spending, and help you gain confidence.
If you need a net worth tracker please download my version here.
***Just because you have debt doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a tracker. Whether your net worth is -$37,000 or $370,000 keep tracking.
“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” — Peter Drucker
TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH
I started my 20’s never having stepped foot in a gym, eating out 5–6x per week and gained the college 45 (yikes!).
Eventually I found a gym, stopped eating out as much and realized all the benefits of exercise. The benefits go way beyond your physical body and will boost your mood, decrease your appetite, and create a habit that will last your lifetime.
If you stay healthy as you get older you will spend less on medical bills, feel better, look better and pursue your bucket list items.
Here are my top fitness advice for my 20-year-old self:
One of the best ways to maintain your health over time will be going to the gym on a regular basis. If you start in your 20’s it’ll much easier to maintain than waiting until you are 30, 40 or 50.
If you don’t like working out find a class, run, or bike. Find activities that you like so you are more likely to stick with them.
Learn to Cook and Meal Prep
If you need any help check out my newest e-book: Low Carb Diet & Recipes. This has allowed me to get in the best shape since I was 22 years old. I’ve lost 15 pounds in 8 weeks, 4% body fat and have a TON of energy! Meal prep and cooking does not have to be difficult.
Watch a few Youtube videos, follow some foodie accounts on Instagram and spend an hour a week planning ahead!
Alright so at this point you are saving money, eating good and now it’s time for the “adulting” part.
Find Your Passion
It might sound cliche but I’ve done jobs I loved, liked, and hated. Despite the fact that one job I hated made a ton of money it wasn’t worth it in the long run. Yes, you need to earn money to pay for life but don’t sacrifice your entire twenties trying to “climb the ladder” at a job you hate.
Make sure you don’t spend your 20’s sitting at a job you hate or don’t love just for the money.
Once I found my passions I quit my six figure job to blog, am trying to play professional golf, and be a full-time writer. Life’s too short to sit chained to a desk!
Spend time finding out what you are passionate about.
Make a plan like I did and live your life, don’t let it go by without going after your dreams. Learn more about finding your passions here.
Make (& Save) Money
From ages 20–25 I earned VERY little money. My jobs as a pizza delivery driver, marketing intern, and call center rep didn’t pay very well (shocker).
But once I got into sales I made a lot of money. You might think…“I don’t like sales or I don’t like selling.”
You sell all the time you just might not know it.
You sell friends on going to the movies, vacations with your family, time off at work or 100 other examples.
Learning to sell is an asset you will have forever. Selling will give you the opportunity to earn a lot of money, network, and become resilient.
Meet Everyone You Can
More twenty somethings are job hopping now more than ever. And that’s okay, just don’t burn every bridge when you leave. Make sure to keep a positive image when people think about working with you.
Stay in contact with co-workers, and build your network online. Keep your LinkedIn professional as it will be your biggest asset in finding a career.
Start a Side Hustle
There are endless benefits of starting a side hustle. Not only do you earn money you also get to spend time doing something you are passionate about.
Tons of online entrepreneurs began side hustling and grew their hustles into dream businesses.
Here are 11 ways to channel your passions into a side hustle and don’t need much money to get started.
It’s amazing how much you will change from age 20 to age 29. I barely recognize my 20-year-old self. I was overweight, broke, and had no vision for my future. Fast forward 10 years later and fortunately all three are the exact opposite.
Granted it is easy to fall into these traps in your 20’s you need to spend time finding out what you want to do in life.
Here are my top tips to grow as a person in your 20’s and conquer your dreams.
Traveling will never be easier than it will be in your 20’s.
You can travel super cheap with sites like AirBnb and experience more than most people ever travel in their lives. Make travel a priority so you can always learn how others live around the world.
You’re bound to make amazing memories that will be better than any new car or iPhone X will bring you.
As soon as you return from a trip, book another one when you return. This will keep you motivated and excited for the next adventure in your life.
Surround Yourself With Positivity
The world can look like a negative place if you watch the news.
There is always some horrendous story and matching clickbait titles. Social media isn’t much better.
Last year I started following social media accounts that had positive quotes. I now have a Youtube channel of movies, tons of accounts with a positive message and tune out negativity.
It’s easy to get stuck in a negative world. Feed your brain positive, uplifting messages to help you do anything.
Negative thinking works almost 100% of the time, don’t do it!
Unleash The Power of Goals
As Tony Robbins said, “People aren’t lazy they simply have impotent goals.”
I didn’t spend enough time in my twenties setting goals. Set goals in all aspects of your life to always have a target you are going after.
From how much you want to earn, what weight or body fat, and what you want to achieve by certain ages. By writing down all these goals you will be much more likely to achieve them.
Don’t be afraid to share your goals and put them out in the Universe. You never know who might be able to help you achieve them!
If you can start a habit of staying organized in your twenties you will be ahead of 99% of the world. Being organized will lead to establishing a good routine each day, week and month.
“No one ever created a plan to be fat, lazy or stupid. That’s what happens when you don’t have a plan.” — Larry Winget
These are some of the most common habits that successful people share. Start by planning your week on Sunday.
Figure out when you will exercise, what meals you will eat, and what you want to do each day. Literally 60 minutes and it will 10x your productivity.
Never Stop Learning
It’s easy when you graduate high school or college to think you have learned it all. Just because school is over doesn’t mean you should stop learning. Now you can spend time learning about things you actually care about, unlike college.
Start by reading books, blogs, business websites, listen to podcasts or attend seminars.
“The best investment you can make is in yourself.” — Jim Rohn
One of the best habits to start in your 20’s is to get up earlier than your friends and coworkers.
Waking up early is one of the most common habits that successful people share!
When you get up earlier there are so many benefits:
- Best time to exercise by running or going to the gym.
- Time to work on any side hustles before work, life and Netflix take over.
- Get ahead of your day and be proactive instead of reactive. You will have more time to get ready, eat a good breakfast and not rush to work.
Conquer Your Bucket List
I recommend creating a bucket list for what you want to do in your 20’s and your entire life. Without it, it can be hard to stay motivated.
When it comes to creating a bucket list think about these items:
- Travel (ex..visit all 7 continents, take a trip every year, visit every NFL stadium)
- Make Memories (ex..go on a cruise, backpack Europe, travel with family to Asia)
- Attend Events (ex..watch Lebron James, go to a super-bowl, see your favorite musician live)
I also recommend creating a financial bucket list so you can reach all your financial goals. These could include buying a car or house, investing, and saving for your future.
Give Back & Appreciate Life
When you’re in your twenties it’s easy to not think about giving back since you are just getting started in life. But I’ve found that giving back helps others as much as it helps you.
If you’re doing well financially, donate a small percentage to a charity you believe in. If you don’t have much money yet volunteer your time. It could be at a soup kitchen, senior citizen home or animal shelter.
Also, don’t forget to appreciate life. It’s easy to get caught up in social media, your career, friends, and family without appreciating it all.
Spend time every day, week, and month being thankful for your life.
Sadly, I’ve known co-workers die in their 20’s, friends get diagnosed with cancer, and other tough situations no young adult should have to deal with.
The more you appreciate your life the better your life will be. Keep a positive attitude, know that you have a lot going for you and that your life is only beginning.
Good luck crushing your 20's!
CALL TO ACTION
I’ve loved writing on these topics so much I published a book, Advice for My Younger Self, available on Amazon. If you like this post buy my book to expand on all these ideas and provide even more helpful tips to succeed in life.
You can do anything you want in life. Spend your time well, hang out with people that make your life better, and enjoy every moment. Your 30’s will come up sooner than you think.
You only get to do it once, make the most of your twenties!