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12 Financial Decisions I’m Happy I Made During My 20s

Recently I’ve had a handful of conversations with friends that have started to center around how old we’re getting and how time is flying. What really hit that point home for me was the realization that next month marks the 10 year anniversary of my highschool graduation. Holy cow. I mean really, where has time gone?

Despite being aware of my poor spending habits, I continued to spend my money rather carelessly for most of my time in college. Then I decided to take a personal finance course during my senior year because I needed one more class to fill up my schedule. That course ended up sparking my love of all things personal finance and also started me down a nerdy road of reading a lot of personal finance related things in the years to come. Looking back on the last decade I realized that there are a lot of things that I’m grateful I did financially, so I thought I’d compile a list. Some of them are common financial advice, and some of them go against what professionals might tell you but they’re still things that I’m thankful I did.

12 Financial Decisions I'm Happy I Made During My 20s

12 Financial Decisions I’m Happy I Made During My 20s:

Made an emergency fund my #1 priority – Right after I graduated from college I set a goal for how much I wanted in my emergency fund and I focused on saving all of my extra income towards that until that account hit the goal. Since then my emergency fund has been used for a major emergency home repair and as backup income during multiple job losses.

Setup automatic 401K withdrawals starting with paycheck #1 – I’ve never known what a paycheck would be like with that money included in it. It’s a lot harder to miss something you never had to begin with.

Invested in the stock market – Make sure you do it with money you don’t need back right away. Is it scary? Yes, but it pays off in the long run, and it’s important to start understanding how it works early on in life.

Bought a house – Some people might think I was too young, or that I shouldn’t have done it while I was single, or yada yada…but so far I’ve built up a lot of equity, I have a cheaper place to live than almost any rental I would get, and I’ve learned a ton of useful skills. I’d do it the same way all over again if I were given a do-over. Plus I’ve painted things and remodeled and done a ton of fun projects. I do however highly recommend making sure you can put 20% down.

Bought a brand new car – Gasp! This one goes against all common financial advice. I don’t regret spending the “extra” money to buy new instead of used. I enjoyed having a new car, I loved never needing to take it in to get work done on it, and I’ve maintained it well so it’s still serving me well 7 years later.

Purposed to live debt free – After paying off my car I made it my goal to never take on debt ever again except to buy a house. So far I’ve been successful at that and hopefully my next car purchase will be bought in full!

Used credit cards  – As much as possible! Credit cards get a pretty bad rap and I do understand that people who can’t control their spending should stay away from them at all costs. However, I’ve never carried a balance on a credit card but still put thousands of dollars on them every year as I rack up the rewards like crazy. A lot of the travel that I’ve done in my 20s has been funded by these rewards.

Didn’t go too crazy trying to be frugal but still utilized effortless cost saving measures when possible – I tried couponing for awhile and I get while it pays off for a lot of people, but for me as a single 20 something it took more time than it gave me back in cost savings. I am however a huge fan of taking discounts and free things when they’re practically effortless. 5% off for having a Target debit card or free Starbucks drinks by signing up for a loyalty program? Sounds good to me! I also have certain stores that I never go into without a 20% off coupon in hand.

Tracked my spending – I often fail at having a budget. Seriously fail. But I’ve always tracked my spending and knowing where my money is going and where my weak spots are has changed me financially more than a budget ever has. I use Mint.com and highly recommend it.

Never adjusted my spending when my income level changed – Whether it be year-end bonuses or actual raises, if my costs are staying the same why should my spending change?

Spent money on traveling – I don’t regret a single dollar spent on the trips I’ve taken, and the memories and experiences are worth more than any dollar amount.

Gave generously – The only other thing I can say that I’ve never regretted spending money on is when it involved giving my money generously. I believe that it was God’s money to begin with anyway, so who am I to be stingy with it?

12FinancialDecisions

I just realized as I was posting this that it’s tax day! That was unintentional – but amusing nonetheless.

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