A couple posts ago, I talked about the importance of having a side hustle. Mine, my website (Money After Graduation), has given me opportunities I never imagined when I started blogging—including a new one with a financial start-up.
I’m excited about this new opportunity, but it comes with more changes to my life. Sadly, this will be my last post for the SALT™ Blog.
It seems like change has been constant for me in the more than 2 years I’ve been blogging for SALT. During this time, I paid off my undergraduate student loans, landed my first professional job, and went back to school to pursue an MBA.
Now, as I approach my 29th birthday and can see the big 3-0 right on its heels, I feel both proud and optimistic about the financial foundation I set in my 20s. Closing in on the end of this decade, as well as my time on this blog, I wanted to leave you all with the three most important pieces of financial advice I’ve experienced.
1. Whatever Your Job, Whatever You Earn, Save A Portion Of Your Income
When I was working part time in retail, putting $50 a month into a savings account felt futile. It put a serious dent in my disposable income and didn’t amount to much, so it hardly seemed worth the effort. Four years later, I can see the most important thing was not the money, but forming the habit.
When my income increased, so did my savings contributions, and over time the accounts grew. What started as $50 became tens of thousands of dollars. So, don’t get discouraged if it seems like you’re not saving much now. With time and diligence, you’ll get where you want to be.
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Take Risks With Your Career
While finances might be causing you stress, your 20s might actually be the time you have the fewest financial obligations.
Because of this, I was aggressive about re-investing in my career by choosing to go back to school for my MBA—something that would not have been an option had I had a mortgage or a family. I knew I’d made the right move when my contract was extended in my summer internship: I now have a new career in a completely different field.
When it comes to starting over, or even starting a company of your own, your 20s are your personal sweet spot. Be sure to design the life you want.
3. Make Sure Your Spending Reflects Your Values
At the end of the day, money is the means to an end, not the end itself. It’s up to you to manage it in a way that it gives you the life you want.
I haven’t owned a car since my first year of college 10 years ago. By avoiding car payments, insurance, and gas, I’ve had money to enjoy more trips, concerts, and meet financial goals that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. There are many dinners out I skipped or dresses I didn’t buy in order to afford my travels and graduate school. Looking back, I’m glad I made temporary sacrifices for permanent achievements.
As I enter my 30s, I’ll be refocusing my financial efforts on purchasing a home, raising a family, and maybe finally buying a car. Still, the habits I developed in my 20s will be coming with me. I’m not a millionaire, but because of the financial foundation I set after college, I know I’ll retire as one, and that’s exciting to me.
Remember: If you take care of your money in your 20s, it will take care of you for the rest of your life.
Thanks for reading.
Check out Bridget’s journey on the SALT Blog from the beginning in her archive.