Growing up, it’s easy to believe there is a set path that leads directly from high school, to college, to a well-paying job that allows you to live an extravagant life as a young socialite in New York City without any roommates. However, I am here to tell you that that is simply NOT the case. (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!)
Some of you may know that I worked as a stockbroker as my first job out of college and lived a life I could not afford (thanks to making only commissions.) There wasn’t a guide that showed me all the right financial decisions to make when I was left responsible for my own income as a young adult. (However, I’ve put together a helpful guide for you! Get it here.) Hello, impulse buys! Hello, big-girl purchases! Hello…drained bank account?
It can be extremely intimidating to start making real money for the first time in your life. Sure, in high school, a one-hundred-dollar babysitting gig feels like you hit the jackpot – but in adult life, it feels like five bucks. Not to mention, instead of spending it on that cool new pair of shoes, you have to put it towards something boring like rent or groceries or your electric bill. Sigh.
So, how can you get on top of money management as a young adult (without going insane?) Here are my top tips.
Save part of every paycheck.
Once you’ve paid your monthly bills, whether it’s rent, a phone bill, or utilities, it can be tempting to blow the rest on a manicure or shopping spree. You deserve it, right? Part of being an adult is realizing that what you really deserve – and what you should always strive to provide yourself with – is a monetary cushion. It will make life SO much less stressful when unplanned mishaps pop up (like a car malfunction, speeding ticket, etc…) and you don’t have to skip out on buying groceries to cover the costs. Respect yourself enough to save part of every paycheck. You can still get the manicure every once in a while – but make sure you’re putting a good portion of your leftover money into an account for a rainy day. Your future self will thank you! (AND, get money back when you do shop by checking this out.)
Invest in stocks.
I go into detail about investing in my guide to after-college life (get it here!), but allow me to reiterate: invest, invest, INVEST! You don’t need to pay large amounts of money upfront to start investing in stocks you are interested in. In fact, the app Robinhood was created specifically to help young people invest their money with no upfront costs/commissions. Stocks are anywhere between $5 and $500 depending on the company, and you get your first share for free when you sign up! The app is super easy to use and will have you feeling like a pro investor in no time. Not only does it show you good buying/selling times, but it projects trends that allow you to make good choices. Get your feet wet by buying an inexpensive stock or two for less than a Starbucks coffee and gain a skill that will pay off a thousand times over.
Have a side-hustle.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: having a side-hustle isn’t just a creative outlet (and super fun,) but it can also provide you with extra income. There are literally thousands of options out there, from selling homemade crafts on a service like Etsy to writing as a freelancer. (And, to help you decide which one is right for you, I’ve put together a guide you can grab here.) You don’t have to open an entire business to make extra money on the side doing something you love. And, let’s face it: a hobby that pays is a win-win.
There you have it – those are my tips for financial success as a young adult. Allow yourself to make mistakes, allow yourself to learn from them, and above all, don’t limit yourself by letting opportunities for money-making pass you by!