When I graduated, I was thrilled to be done with college, start working, and move on. Then, a few months down the road, I got my first student loan bill. And suddenly all of the loans I took out over the past several years for tuition and living expenses were very real. Taking out too much in student loans is one mistake; here are more common mistakes people make in their 20s.
Money Mistakes to Avoid in Your 20s
Learn from other 20-somethings’ mistakes. Check out these common mistakes before you make them:
- Taking out too much in student loans. Taking out student loans often starts before you even hit 20. The real problem with student loans is when you’re taking out too much. If you’re still in college, apply for grants and scholarships first. Don’t have the mindset that you’ll take out a little extra while you’re in school and pay it back later. Only take out the bare minimum for student loans. You may have to sacrifice during college, but you’ll be happy you did later on. See 9 student loan mistakes people make.
- Ignoring this student loan debt. If you’re in school, don’t ignore your loans. Keep track of what you’re racking up, and consider paying the interest while you’re still in school. Don’t just ignore your loans when you’re done with school. Learn your repayment options and what’s best for you.
- Not having a budget. It’s hard to have a budget when you’re living on loans or have very little money, but make a monthly budget and stick to it.
- Abusing credit cards. Like student loans, credit cards can be a means to living a life you feel you deserve. It can help fund your lifestyle until you’re making the money to do so. The problem with that thought process is you may never make that large salary you think you’re going to.
- Not having insurance. Your 20s can mean you’re in between your parent’s health insurance or student insurance and whatever insurance you may get from a full-time job. If your job doesn’t offer insurance or you are unemployed, get some type of health insurance to protect yourself in case you get sick (and avoid the new penalty for no health insurance). You may also qualify for the new health insurance premium tax credit.
- Going into debt to get married. The average wedding can cost upwards of $29,000 and depending where you live and what your expectations are, that could actually be a modest estimate. Too many 20-somethings go into debt to fund their wedding. Dealing with debt isn’t the way to start your marriage. Instead, learn how to cut your wedding budget to have something you can afford. If you can’t cut it down, then save up for it instead and postpone your big day until you can afford it. Once you are married, discuss how to manage money in your marriage.
- Overpaying in rent. You are finally out of your parent’s house and your crappy college apartment so you might be tempted to opt for that fabulous first apartment you dreamed of. Shop around, and only get a rent you can actually afford. In fact, you might want to opt to go even under budget to put that extra money towards your student loan debt or saving for a rainy day. Also explore the secret costs of moving out on your own.
- Relying too much on your parents. Many 20-somethings are still relaying on their parents for financial assistance and opting to move back in with their parents. Establish your independence, and start supporting yourself. Not only will you develop more of a sense of accomplishment and confidence, but you’ll be able to formulate more accurate career and financial goals for the future.
What money mistakes are common in your 20s? What money mistakes did you make in your 20s? What are the best money moves you made during that decade?