20 Financial Skills You Should Master in Your Twenties

The skills and habits that you create in your twenties can affect your finances for years to come. It is important to be proactive and to work hard to develop the financial skills you need to really take control of your finances. Here are twenty skills you should master in your twenties.

Give Every Dollar You Earn a Purpose

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A budget lets you decide when and how to spend your money. It’s okay to spend money on fun or crazy things, as long as you have a plan and you know you can afford it. Your budget gives you that power. Start creating and following your budget now so that you can stop stressing about money.

Have Regular Budget Meetings

Take five minutes each night to go over your budget. This will help you stay in line with your spending and give yourself a clear picture as to how you are doing for the month. If you do it each night, it should only take about five minutes. You should complete the budget check in whether you are single or you are married. Once you are married, it is important to plan so that you can have quick and effective budget meetings

Balance Your Accounts Each Month

It may seem like a lot of work for very little pay off, but balancing your accounts is a necessity. This can keep you from overdrawing your account and running into other problems. It can also help you to catch identify theft or see if someone has stolen your account information. You can do a daily check in with your budget, but you should balance to your bank statement each month. 

Set Regular Financial Goals

It helps to budget if you have clear goals and a plan in mind. You should have long-term, mid-term and short-term financial goals that you are working on each year. You do not want to overcomplicate this, but you should check in on your progress during a monthly financial check-in session. 

Set Up a Financial Plan

This plan will take you through all of your major financial steps from buying a home, to paying for your kids' college. It can feel overwhelming to sit down and plan it out all at once, but it can help you prioritize your goals and know when and how to spend your time.  

Start Contributing to Retirement

You should start contributing with your first job. A good goal is to work up to contributing fifteen percent of your income to retirement. You can work up to this through raises and as you pay off your debt. If you make your retirement a priority now, you won’t need to worry about it in the future. 

Perfect the Art of Finding a Deal

There are a lot of ways you can save money on your purchases. This may mean learning the best time of year to buy linens or to find a deal on your car. You can find ways to save on everything from your groceries to your furniture. If you make looking for a deal a habit, you will be able to save significantly over the course of your life. 

Become a Smart Shopper and Stop Impulse Purchases

A smart shopper is a bit different from a deal hunter. Once you have perfected the art of finding a good deal, you need to become a smart shopper and determine if you need the item before you buy it. That does not mean you should not buy things just for fun, but you should be able to classify it as a want and make sure that you have the money available to cover it without dipping into savings. A good idea is to wait at least twenty-four hours before making a major purchase. 

Shop With a List

One of the biggest ways you can save money when you are shopping is to shop with a list and stick to it. This is a simple habit to start and only takes a few minutes before each trip. If you have a clear list in mind, it can help you reign in your impulse spending and it can save you time and money. Plus a list can help eliminate the need to head back to the store because you forgot something. Take the time to make a list before each of your shopping trips and the savings will start adding up.  

Plan for Seasonal Expenses

These expenses may be things like holiday shopping, vacation spending, taxes home repairs. If you know that expenses come once a year, you can set aside money to cover them each month. This way it is much easier to pay for all of the major expenses that come your way just once or twice a year. If you can identify them now and plan for them, you will not be taken by surprise and you will not ruin your budget the month they are due.  

Stop Relying on Credit Cards

One of the worst habits you can develop is to rely on credit cards to cover you when you are short on money. It is important to have a good emergency fund and to plan so that you do not need to use your credit cards. One of the first steps to help you stop using your credit cards is to stop carrying them with you.

Take Advantage of Employee Benefits

Another great thing you can do is to take full advantage of your employee benefits. The health insurance you are offered through your job has a tax advantage since it can lower your taxable income. An employer matching contribution is basically free money for your retirement, and you should take full advantage of any employer match your company can offer you. Other benefits like stock options and other insurance can benefit you depending on your situation. Be sure you understand and take advantage of your benefits. 

Continue to Network

It is important to keep your resume updated so that when you hear of a good job opportunity you can take it. It is just as important to continue to build your professional network. A strong professional network makes it much easier to find a new job when you are ready. It is important to make cultivate your professional networking.

Save Money Each Month

It is important to regularly put money into your savings account each month. You can have your savings automatically drafted to your saving account or set up an automatic transfer to make it even easier for you. You can set a goal to save ten or fifteen percent of your income for your long-term goals each month and setting aside the money automatically can make it much easier.  

Give Your Savings a Purpose

It helps to stay motivated with your savings by giving each dollar you save a purpose. You may set aside some money for your dream vacation, some for a down payment on your home, some for your child’s college fund. You may also have some that is used primarily for investing and wealth building. Keep track of what money is for each goal, and take the time to track your progress.  

Protect Your Savings

If you find it easy to dip into your savings account when you are running short, you need to find a way to protect your savings. Your emergency fund needs to be easily accessible so that you can cover unexpected expenses right away, but you can move the rest of your savings to accounts that are more difficult to access. For instance an online bank for your savings account can add a few extra days to the time it takes to transfer your money, which may give you the cooling off period you need before you make an impulse purchase. CDs are another option if you can find any with competitive interest rates. 

Build a Support Network

It helps to have friends that can support your financial choices. Although you likely will not spend a lot of time talking about your financial choices, it is good to have friends that like to hunt for deals or that encourage you to save money when needed. Some friends may want you to constantly spend money while others are more supportive of you reach your goals. Building a good financial support network can help you reach your goals more effectively. 

Check Your Credit Report Regularly

You should check your credit reports regularly to prevent against identity theft. If you pull one report every four months, you should be able to regularly monitor your credit report. This can help you catch identity theft much more quickly and protect your credit score.  

Give Back

It is important to give back in some way. This may mean making charitable donations to the causes that you support. Another option is to volunteer for a local organization. 

Find Balance

Finally, it is important to find the balance between work, saving, and enjoying your life. It is important to take time to relax regularly, and to make sure that you are saving enough of your income to be comfortable. This is a difficult skill to develop, but essential if you want to be happy.