1: Don’t wait to start contributing to your 401(k)
I thought I wouldn’t be at my first job very long, so I had a “why bother” mindset. But contributing to a 401(k) often means FREE MONEY (you likely get an employer match if you contribute so much yourself).
2: Negotiate your wages and benefits… carefully
In some job markets, negotiating too strongly can make you lose the job opportunity. I’ve seen people ask for too much and get themselves kicked off the list.
However, currently, there are as many job openings as there are the unemployed, so employees have a lot more power. State your expectations but be reasonable.
3: Use your credit card
4: Fully use your healthcare benefits
If you get a free eye exam, dental cleaning, or whatever… USE IT.
5: Fund your Health Savings Account
Money goes in tax free. Money grows tax free. Money goes out tax free. Need I say more? Read this Tax-Free HSA Hack.
6: Get to know people with different skill sets
You don’t want 10 best friends who are all just like you. Surround yourself with a diverse group of motivated individuals who you can grow with.
7: Get organized. FAST
If you don’t get your financial life in order quickly, it will get away from you. Get your physical and electronic documents sorted, understand your cash flow, and never miss a bill.
8: Compare prices to something you value
I valued time. In college, I earned $9 an hour. Is that $30 shirt worth 3 hours of my time?
9: Invest in yourself
You can penny pinch all you want, but it won’t make you succeed. Work to improve your skills so you can earn more. Pair high earnings with frugality, and it’s a recipe for success.
10: Read (something other than social media)
If you are struggling with finding ways to invest in yourself, start HERE
11: Be aggressive with your debt
Spending money is a lot of fun when you are young and finally have disposable income. However, you could save thousands in interest payments if you aggressively pay down your non-mortgage debt now. Make the sacrifices you need to make to free yourself of debt.
12: Be charitable
If you can’t afford to be charitable with your money, be charitable with your time and skills. I truly think your happiness depends on it.
13: Learn to say no
You will be pulled in a hundred different directions, presented with dozens of “can’t miss” opportunities, and asked to come along on super expensive excursions. If you feel led to say no… well, say no.
14: Set goals
It’s easy to feel like you are going nowhere. Nothing feels better than getting out of a funk by looking back at a goal list you made for yourself and thinking, “Wow. I’ve come a long way.” Start goal setting HERE.
15: Get good advice
21-year-old Jessica – you’re pretty smart. Honestly, you’ve done ok for yourself… but you don’t actually know anything… Go find people smarter and wiser than you and pick their brains regularly.
16: Be humble, but not TOO humble
No one likes a know-it-all. However, if you play down your accomplishments and abilities, you might miss out on opportunities that could further propel you to success.
17: Be an owner not a loaner
Look around. Who has the most money? It’s the people who own business. You can own them too by buying stocks. It might not be as risky as you think.
18: Don’t compare yourself to others
Your 22-year-old friend from college with a brand new car and 4 bedroom house in the suburbs might have loads of debt, family assistance, or sacrificed enormously to acquire those. Don’t feel that you need to keep up with them. Stay in your own lane.
19: Give your retirement savings a raise
Every time you get a raise at work, give half the raise to yourself to spend (woohoo!) and half the raise to your retirement savings. Example: You got a 4% raise. That means your 401(k) contribution goes up by 2% and your budget goes up by 2%.
20: Don’t let car salesmen talk up the low monthly payment
The monthly payment DOESN’T MATTER! What is the total cost of that car after you pay all the interest? Oh, and rethink that warranty they are shoving down your throat.
21: Make a splash
You need to find that balance between being a good little worker bee and being memorable. Don’t get too absorbed in your work and neglect the professional relationships there at your fingertips.
Maybe in 10 years, I’ll write an article titled, “28 Tips for 28-Year-Old Me.” Let me know what other tips you would add!