When I graduated from college, I was pretty broke.
I didn’t land a $50K annual salary job straight out of college. And I didn’t understand how I had a college degree, but ended up living with my parents, working four jobs, and barely making enough to pay back my student loans.
At the time, it seemed impossible that I would ever have a career. I never imagined that I would more than triple my salary in less than 5 years, and yet that’s what happened. But, it took several years. It didn’t happen overnight.
What I’ve learned from watching my recently-graduated brother in his early 20s, is that millennials are in the now-now-now generation.
We see our parents with their houses and fancy cars and don’t realize the years it took for them to build that kind of wealth. We are keeping up with the Joneses on social media and competing for the fanciest and flashiest of useless stuff in an effort to appear that we have it all together.
But you don’t want to spend your entire life robbing Peter to pay Paul, or living paycheck-to-paycheck. Use your twenties to start setting up the financial framework for a peaceful and debt-free lifestyle. Listen up, college graduates, this is how you financially survive your 20s.
Invest in Your 401(k)
As soon as you land a job that offers you health benefits and the chance to invest in a 401(k), make sure you contribute the maximum to get the company match. If you need to invest 6% and your company will invest 3%, that’s 9% of your annual salary that you will be saving for retirement.
The benefit of automatically investing into your 401(k) is that the money is taken out of your paycheck before you even see it. It forces you to live off less, and you start saving toward retirement without ever feeling the money pinch later on.
Pay Off Your Student Loans
If you have student loans, do whatever it takes to pay them off quickly. I was able to pay off my student loans less than seven years after I graduated from college. It took me longer than my target of five years, because I didn’t realize how much of a money suck they were.
Getting married when you have student loans can really put a damper on your financial dreams as a couple. You have to postpone buying a house, you can’t afford certain vacations, and you can’t do all the fun things you want to do because you have a proverbial ball and chain with student loans.
Make sacrifices now so you don’t have to make sacrifices later. Believe me when I say it only gets harder to pay off your loans the longer you wait.
You might have to make sacrifices. It’s okay to drive a beater car because you can’t afford a new car payment. It’s okay to live with your parents while you save up money. And it’s okay to work four jobs to pay off your loans as quickly as possible.
Do whatever it takes to set your life on the right financial path by making sacrifices today so you can live a debt-free tomorrow.
What’s the toughest thing you’ve experienced about how to survive your 20s? Do you have any tips about how to survive your 20s after college?