Money Moves I Wish I Made in My 20s (& You Should Make)

Here are some of the things I wrote down at age 31 to accomplish by 32, that didn't happen:

  • Debt Free at 32
  • Finish 1st Book
  • Pay off $100,000 in student loans in the next 12 months
  • Run a 5k in 21 minutes
  • Start trying for kids

Some are personal goals, some are family, and some are financial.

As I sat and wrote down my goals that I aimed to accomplish over the next year I took a look back at where I used to be and what I like to call my “Financial Mindset,” from my 20s.

To be quite honest, I made some decent money moves in my 20s, but also some really dumb ones. So today, celebrating year 32, I decided to share the best money moves someone in their 20s could make to set their future up right!

Money Moves in Your 20s to Make!

I am not sure if others share this view point, but when I was 22 this is how I thought about money:

“Dude, I got my first job, I live at home, and I am rich.”

Fast forward a couple of years, I am still single and even though I branched out on my own I still had the same feeling – “I am rich.”

One lesson I hadn’t yet learned was just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you should buy it. I was the type of person who had money spent before it hit the bank account.

While I wasn’t completely wreckless I wasn’t very conservative either. I paid off my car in 3 years, knocked out about 50% of my student loans in 4 years, and had a little in savings.

But I shrivel up inside when I think of all the money I spent being a 20 something year old on stuff I really have nothing to show for now- like fast food, bars, and entertainment.

Several months back I wrote an article titled, 6 Things I Wish I Knew About Money After College,” in an effort to help recent college grads learn the value of money earlier then I did.

I was contributing a meezely $75 a month to my 403B and saving another $200 – the rest of my salary went out the window every month.

I was paying more towards my car every month, $330, then I was towards my future. 

While I look back and I am sometimes really hard on myself, one thing I am grateful for is this:

I will never make the same mistake twice, and if I do, shame on me.

Focus on Making Money in Your 20s

Something I highly recommend for anyone in their 20s… make as much money as possible.

I know that might sound a bit selfish, but in your 20s, you have less responsibility with family, kids, work, owning a business – you name it.

You also want to make money to get rid of your debt and invest more in your 20s so that long term you have the return on interest! To help you make more money, here is a quick list of ideas:

  1. State a side hustle of some sort in your 20s
  2. Complete surveys when bored. You can get $10 with Survey Junkie here
  3. Do market research by downloading apps
  4. Work overtime or pick up a part-time job
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What I know now about money.

My hair isn’t gray (Or is it grey?), I don’t sit in a rocking chair, and I don’t talk about the good ol’ days. While I do find it absurd that I hear RHCP on the classic rock stations now, for the most part I am pretty much in tune with things.

So I am not going to pretend like I know everything about money. If that was the case, I would have more, I would be able travel more, and I would be talking about kids sooner.

Speaking of Kids: Money – The Real Reason We Don’t Have Kids

But I can reflect on all my dumb mistakes from my 20’s and learn during my 30’s. Part of my problem was I was immature.

I did more things out of impulse then I did with reason.

I thought in present value.

I tried to do things others were doing so I could keep up.

I didn’t double up on student loans.

I didn’t save nearly enough.

I thought I knew everything you could ever know about money and finance.

I thought short term instead of long term.

I did not realize how fast I would go from 22 to 30.

I did not think about kids and marriage… AND

Words like retirement, investment, and the future were not in my vocabulary in my 20s!

As my friend Robert recently explained in his post on financial mistakes, I made lots of financial mistakes.

But I am not the type to go back and dwell. Like most I realized I just had to make small daily changes that would slowly move my future family forward.

I started focusing on areas where I could improve and I looked at everything with an open mind. Sure, I wished I had started a company at a young age like my best friend who started a gutter installation company, but I couldn't beat myself up!

And by changing out I thought about money, my wife and I as a team, were able to start chucking at our debt, saving more and enjoying life.

I realized I should be thankful for what I did have and stop worrying about what I didn’t!

What are you thankful for?

In addition to writing my goals down on my 31st birthday,  I also wrote down a list of things I am grateful for.

What a better time than my birthday to write down all the people and things about my life I am grateful for.

From Money Life Wax to my wife, from my job to my health, when I reflected on the good things I have it makes everything great!

Sometimes we all get caught up in the grind, hustle, and with life’s daily routines we forget to reflect on what we are grateful for!

Do a gratitude inventory – write down 10 things you are grateful for as it pertains to people, health,  security, career, friendships, whatever you can think of!

My dog Morgan is for sure on the list!

I hope you got something out of this and like I said earlier, stay tuned for a post on how I describe just how simple it is to reach your goals – EVEN IF THEY ARE HUGE!

For now, I would recommend reading Pay Yourself First if you want to start getting ahead financially.

Q: What is 1 lesson from your 20’s you learned OR if you are in your 20’s what can you do better?