Our 20s and 30s are a time full of growth, learning and a lot of discovering ourselves and the world around us. It is a time where lots of mistakes can and do happen, and hopefully we learn from them.
As someone who is swiftly approaching 30 myself, I decided to discuss 5 key tips I have learned throughout my 20s that I am gladly taking into my glorious 30s. But of course, if you're younger then 20 or well-out of your 30s, these tips are still relevant for you and will set you up for success.
Tip 1 – Stay Away From ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’
There is nothing worse than paying today for a purchase you made months ago. It is even more painful when the thing your paying for is a long-gone memory or something that is not even of good use to you anymore! However, it seems that these 'Buy Now, Pay Later' schemes are popping up left, right and centre. It is becoming a standard and acceptable way to pay for things, and quite frankly it is just normalising the debt culture.
Now don't get me wrong, paying in instalments for big purchases such as holidays, cars, or even an expensive home appliance can be super helpful and at times very necessary. The real problem arises when you start to get comfortable with buying everyday things such as clothes or small household items via buy now, pay later, instead of just saving up for 1 or 2 months, the good old-fashioned way!
Tip 2 – Pay Yourself & Give To Others
Paying yourself first is becoming a bit of a cliche statement but some cliche statements are worth repeating! It is so vitally important that every single month you make sure you put something aside for future you. Whether that is putting it into a savings or investment account, if you don't look out for future you, you will constantly be in the rat race of life. Yes, you will have to sacrifice a bit now, but just imagine what it will be like 10 or 15 years down the line where you've set yourself up so well you can choose to work less, travel the world, or even help your children with their future. And I promise you, once you get into the habit of paying yourself first, you'll quickly realise how rewarding it is and that it's actually not the end of the world to live on a bit less.
It's great to earn and enjoy your money but when you add giving to the mix, it's just a recipe for greatness! Giving to those who are less fortunate than you builds your character, it makes you more of an empathetic person, helps you to feel more connected to your community and the world around you, and ultimately it adds just a bit more goodness into the world - and we all know that is needed. One of my favourite biblical scriptures about giving reads 'Whoever gives sparingly will also receive sparingly, whomever gives generously will also reap generously' (2 Corinthians 9:6)
Tip 3 – Understand Your Value In The Work Place
You may be fortunate enough to work for a unicorn employer who always rewards you sufficiently for what you contribute to your team, but the reality is the vast majority of employers do and will underpay you. This is why you have to take understanding your value into your own hands and then speaking up to be paid according to your value.
Some simple things you can to do understand your workplace value include:
Tip 4 – Take full responsibility for your financial literacy
Unfortunately, financial education is not a part of the school curriculum in the UK, and most places across the glove, and it does mean we end up with lots of financially illiterate people roaming around - to no fault of their own. But there does come a point where we can no longer use that as an excuse. We have to take financial literacy into our own hands!
The result of not taking it into your own hands is not getting the best out of your money, and your future self will be forced to pay the price for the lack of knowledge the past you had. The earlier you get started, the better, but it is never too late.
Thankfully in such a digital age, there are innumerable free or reasonably-priced resources available to start you on your financial literacy journey. Whether it's books, podcasts, blog articles, YouTube videos or TV shows, there are some great resources out there and you will be spoilt for choice!
Tip 5 – Avoid Lifestyle Inflation
I'll hold my hands up and say that I was absolutely a victim to this mindset. I believed each time I made more money, that gave me grounds to spend that extra money on myself, whether it was necessary or not. The reality is life should be about balance to ensure good habits are sustainable. When you get a promotion, change job, or get a nice bonus, you should absolutely enjoy some of that extra cash lining your pockets - or bank account. BUT also make sure you save some of that in your emergency fund, or invest a portion of it, otherwise you're never actually getting ahead of the game. You're technically staying in the same spot as before just spending more, and a lot of times you won't even feel a long-term the benefit of spending more on yourself.
So I hope you've enjoyed this blog post and let me know in the comments if there are any tips you've learned and now live by that you would also share with others.
29-year old living in the UK who is actively working towards achieving Financial Independence (FI). Sharing all the tips and tricks I am learning along the way!