There is a certain point in life when you get tired of the games and messing around. You will eventually decide it’s time to grow up. I never felt like I had much of a childhood. I started working at a young age. Whether it was babysitting or and actual part-time job, my parents taught me the importance of money and how to manage it well. Thanks to my father’s knowledge and understanding of all the important issues I would eventually face, I am now 24 years old and officially homeowner.
On the other side of the fence, I’ve seen many of my friends struggle with no savings account, living paycheck to paycheck and dealing with bad credit scores. Now that they are looking to settle down and get serious about life, they are having a difficult time. I want to give you some advice that has really helped me over the years. I know I talk as though I’m older than most people my age, but I feel like I have an old soul for only being 24. Anyways, here are some of the key concepts that have helped me get this far:
1. Work now, enjoy later.
Growing up, I was always told to save my money now and buy what I really want later. Don’t just spend money to spend money. I work hard now and enjoy the benefits later. I’m not saying life is all about work. I’m also a strong believer that you only live once and you should enjoy life while you can, but be realistic. I work an 8AM-5PM job five days a week like most people. If I have paid time off then I use it. If I don’t, then I go to work. That’s just how the world goes round. Work now, and enjoy later.
2. Be frugal sometimes.
Just because you have the money, doesn’t mean you always need to buy the most expensive things. Maybe you are use to buying $15 shampoo. Try saving $7 and only buy $8 shampoo for a while. Put the money you save into a vacation fund…or a house account ;) Being a bargain shopper doesn’t mean you’re cheap, it means you’re smart about your money. You pick and choose what you want to splurge on.
3. Find a job with benefits and work hard to keep it.
If you are lucky enough to have a job that provides medical, dental and vision insurance along with a 401k, count your blessings. You will never fully understand the importance of it until you get an $11,000 emergency room bill like I did. Luckily my insurance covered most of it, but it is understandable to see how people go into poverty because of something like that. Start building up your 401k early and once you are ready to retire, you’ll have a whole extra savings account that will benefit you.
4. If you can avoid loans, by all means do.
There are times in life when you will need to take out a loan. Whether it be for school or for a car or maybe just for personal reasons. That is understandable. But if you can avoid taking out multiple loans and putting yourself in debt, avoid the trouble. Yes, money may be tight for a while, but that is a lesson to learn all in itself. I went 5 months without a job, but thanks to my savings account, I didn’t need to take out loans. At the same time, it taught me to be grateful for what I did have rather than dwell on what I didn’t have.
5. Understand that you’re not alone.
If you think you are the only one at the age of 24 that is struggling to find their dream job or just be financially comfortable, you’re not. There was a point in my life when I thought I was the only person I knew who wasn’t living their dream. Truth is, it doesn’t just happen overnight. There may be the lucky few who graduate college and automatically get a job in the field that they wanted, but I think that is rare. Keep working hard, it will happen for you. When you truly have a passion for something, God will never steer you wrong.