As a woman entering her 20s eight years ago, I wish someone had sat me down and given me a list of money tips for women in their 20s. Unfortunately, I learned mine the hard way, and suffered some financial issues when I didn’t necessarily have to. Read my money tips for women in their 20s based off my experience, and be sure to share any you have learned as well.
1. Get Health Insurance
One of the first money tips for women in their 20s that I hope everyone will listen to, is to get a job that has health insurance. Sure, you may not need it now, but when an emergency comes up, you’ll wish you had. I danced around this for years, waitressing and working freelance jobs without insurance. I ran the risk for years with success from no injuries or illness, yet four years ago, when I had to go to the hospital, I was in trouble. The money came out of my taxes for three years because I had no insurance to pay for it at the time. Get health insurance, preferably from a company you work with if you can. If not, be sure to sign up through healthcare.gov for very affordable health insurance that the government now provides for everyone, regardless of income.
2. Keep a Job
Another money tip for all you girls in your 20s is to stop bouncing around from job to job. I do think you should explore career options if you need to, so you don't get stuck in a career you hate. Yet, don’t change jobs every few months, such as with restaurant and retail jobs, etc. This looks bad on a resume and each job interview you go on will see this as a reason not to hire you. Stick with a company at least a year or two, if not longer, until you find the right career for you. It will look much better on a resume and help you get a better job later.
3. Quit Living to the Nines
Listen, girls in your 20s, this isn’t the time to feel like you need to have a Chanel bag, Tom Ford makeup, and Louis Vuitton luggage by the time you’re 23. Unless you’re rich, this probably isn’t going to happen, and who cares? You shouldn’t be blowing hundreds of dollars on luxury items that truly have no real meaning anyway. I like nice things as much of the rest of you, but it isn't worth not being able to live in the meantime. I know what it's like to feel the pressure to live that way. Luckily, I didn’t do this, but I did feel ultimate pressure to when I worked in the modeling industry. I was often the odd girl out if I didn’t talk about my latest luxury buy, or carry the latest design. Many times I wished I could indulge like other girls I knew, but I didn't have the financial ability to, thankfully. Save your money and be smart! You’ll be so glad you did. Put it into stocks or a 401K, which will make you more money. That bag or makeup will either be gone or out of style in a year, so do something meaningful with your money.
4. Don’t Spend It All on Your Social Life
If you think spending all your money on late nights out, rounds of drinks and pricey club admissions is helping you any, think again. Stop throwing away your money by partying and staying out all the time. This wasn’t a problem for me, but I did feel pressure to spend money going out because that’s what all my friends were doing. When I chose not to spend my nights out drinking and waking up broke, I often lost a lot of friends. But, you know what? I’m not only healthier for it, but can also say I at least have something to show now for the money I made, without memories of a hangover or wasted budget.
5. Get a Food Budget
This is an area that was hard for me to learn, but at 28, I finally did. You’ve got to get a hold of your food budget. I eat very healthy and still maintain a food budget, so it is possible. Stop buying $5 frozen dinners and learn to cook yourself 5 lunches with $5 of healthy foods instead. Stop eating out and start cooking for yourself. It isn’t only cheaper, but also therapeutic and helps reduce stress. It doesn't have to be fancy either. Just start small and go with foods you enjoy first. Have your friends over for a dinner party and ask them to each bring something, no matter how simple it is. Set a food budget each week and read blogs for how to eat healthy on a budget. It can be done! One of my favorites is stacymakescents.com, and I also have a few tips on my blog at soulfulspoon.com. Or, feel free to check out Jen’s article on All Women Stalk at diet.allwomenstalk.com.
6. Get a Cosmetic Budget
Your 20s are not the years to spend your paycheck on department store makeup, girls! Celebrity icon Bethenny Frankel and many other celebrities still say they use the drugstore stuff, so quit thinking you need $80 foundation and get a hold of your cosmetic budget! There are actually many products I’ve used from the drugstore that I like better than department store brands. Some of my favorites brands are Physicians Formula, Revlon, Maybelline and Covergirl, along with Rimmel London, Bonne Bell, and NYC brands.
7. Quit Bouncing Checks
I learned to either use debit or cash when I was 25 to avoid bouncing checks, which cause you to lose money fast. Checks can bounce, even for reasons that might not be your fault. Set up online bill pay instead, and use debit or cash for all your purchases- preferably cash, which helps you spend even less. Swiping that card is easy, but seeing it come out of your wallet physically is a whole new level of learning to budget your money better.
8. Just Say No to Credit Cards
Please, please, please don’t get a credit card- just don’t! I fell into deep debt this way, and all within the course of a year in between jobs. It was completely innocent, yet it was a quick snowball. It is far too easy to think you can pay for it later, when you might not really be able to.
9. Say No to Student Loans
Student loans seem so harmless. Just sign your name on the dotted line, and you can just pay later! Oh, and if you can’t afford it when you graduate, you’ll just postpone them until later, or combine them in a consolidated loan. Trust me- this is not what happens. In fact, I have student loans I pay for every single day which promised me I could postpone them, yet because I don’t qualify for certain benefits, or because of my age, I have to pay for them. If I don’t, they take it out of my taxes. I signed up for student loans because I felt sure I’d get a job after graduation. Although I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for the world, it’s not what I went to school for and yet my student loans take most of my budget. Be careful and try to get as many scholarships as possible, apply for government sponsorships or search for community opportunities that allow you to get college credit by doing community service. If you can’t afford your school of choice, then consider a lower-priced institution. Otherwise, you’ll be using most of your paychecks to pay for student loans for the next 20 years of your life, and you possibly won’t be using the degree you went to school for anyway.
While I’m not a money expert, all the tips above are simple and very common things that happen to women in their 20s. Your 20s represent the time to spend smart, save more, work to build your resume and get a hold of your budget. If you’re out of your 20s, what money lessons did you learn? Or, if you’re in your 20s, what money questions do you have?