Young people often get a bad rap, and some people feel young adults are irresponsible with their money. But despite what others may think, there are ways to be financially disciplined at a young age. If you learn how to manage money early, you can build a solid financial foundation for yourself. There's no rule saying you have to wait until your late 20s or 30s to get serious about money. If you're ready now, here are seven tips to help you along the way.
1. Identify Your Financial Goals
Even if you're young, you can set financial goals for yourself. Having goals is one of the best ways to keep your money on track. It doesn't have to be large goals, it can be something as simple as starting a savings account or spending less money.
2. Keep a Spending Journal
Because many young people feel they have the rest of their lives to be responsible with money, they often spend recklessly during the early years. But if you want to build a good financial future for yourself, you need to curb bad spending habits while you're young and have few responsibilities. If you don't know where your money goes, creating a budget is the first step. Additionally, keep a journal of how you spend money and write down each purchase. This helps identify bad spending habits. For example, you might spend too much on shopping, entertainment or recreation.
3. Don't Let Others Pressure You
If you've set financial goals for yourself, and you're committed to making wise financial choices, don't let others influence you for the worse. Your friends may not appreciate your financial goals or new habits, but these habits are financially beneficial in the long run, as long as you stick with them.
4. Know Your Weaknesses
If you want to be financially disciplined at a young age, you have to know your weaknesses. For example, if shopping is your weakness, you might limit the number of trips to retail stores, or you can leave your debit or credit cards at home to avoid overspending and accumulating debt. Then again, you might have difficulty controlling your spending when shopping with friends. In this case, it's probably best to shop alone and avoid peer pressure.
5. Save, No Matter What
Even if you don't have a lot of income or disposable cash, make saving a priority. Pay yourself first each month no matter what. It doesn't matter if unexpected expenses arise, or if there's an amazing sale at the mall. Your savings account isn't going to grow itself. You may not be able to deposit 10% into your savings account every month, but something is better than nothing.
6. Don't Get into Debt
Debt might be the American way, but it doesn't have to be your way. If you accumulate a lot of debt at an early age, it can take years to pay off balances. Your credit score can suffer, and it might be harder to get car financing or a mortgage in the future. For now, stick with cash and only use credit when absolutely necessary. If you do have a credit card, don't let anyone borrow your card and always check your credit report at least once a year to ensure the accuracy of information.
7. Stay Home as Long as You Can
Just about every young adult wants to move out and get his or her own apartment. But if you move out too soon, you can complicate your personal finances. Living on your own is more difficult than you might think. You're responsible for rent, utilities, food and other costs that pop up unexpectedly. Stay home a little longer and save money before you take on additional responsibilities.
Being financially disciplined is difficult for older adults, so it comes as no surprise that young adults may have a tough time. But if you are smart with your money and make wise decisions, you might deal with fewer financial troubles in the future. What are other ways to be financially disciplined at a young age?