Young, fabulous and broke
If you’re a 20-something, you’re likely in the thick of setting up an apartment, landing a job and facing the reality of student loan debt.
Taking these steps now will have you on the right fiscal footing for years to come:
· Find out what your expenses are so you can create a budget. The expenses you get bills for are no-brainers, but track your spending for a full month to see where else your money goes, whether it’s quarters for parking meters or the occasional bar tab.
· If you can’t get health insurance through your parents or an employer, compare individual policies and buy one. You can find plans under $100 a month. They won’t be robust, but they can offer protection in case of a catastrophe.
· If you can’t land your dream job, take a temp gig. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 58 percent of interns were offered full-time positions once their internships were completed.
· Establish credit by making timely payments on auto and student loans. If you’re in credit card debt, focus on paying that off first, since plastic almost always carries higher interest rates than other types of loans.
· The average college graduate leaves school with $24,000 in loan debt, according to a study by the Project on Student Debt. Choose the right payment plan to manage the debt comfortably, and if you’re facing unemployment, extend the plan for lower payments but higher interest and a longer loan term.
· Create an emergency fund with at least three months’ worth of expenses. If that’s unattainable, shoot for a few thousand first. The average person encounters about $2,000 in unexpected expenses annually, according to the Consumer Federation of America.
· Take advantage of an employer match to your 401(k). If that’s off the table, open a Roth IRA. A 20-year-old who saves $100 per month with 8 percent returns will retire with more than a 30-year old who saves twice as much each month.
Which of these steps have you already accomplished? Where do you need to improve?