As a twenty-something year old, I have learned quite a bit when it comes to money. I have had both successes and failures along the way. This is my (unsolicited and) free financial advice for someone in their 20s: millennials, college grads, students, or for anyone who likes financial advice.
I never pass on financial advice.
I recently read a quote from Dave Ramsey which said, “Don’t take money advice from broke people.” Even though he’s the financial guru and I am not, I will respectfully disagree.
I say listen to financial advice from everyone because you are then able to make YOUR OWN decisions. Sometimes “broke people” can have the best advice, too.
You may want to create a financial advice index card with the best advice you’ve received and post in your office, refrigerator, or bedroom to remind you of your financial commitments.
This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
First and Most Important
Above all, pray and follow God’s leading with your finances. Give your tithe and offering as we are instructed to do so in the Bible (see Malachi chapter 3).
God never disappoints. As believers, we know that He has it all under control for those who believe in Him (Matthew 6:25-34) and if you look back, you most likely have always had something despite the struggles.
The Lord’s Prayer reminds us that He provides enough of what we need (be it health, money, food, strength, grace, peace, etc.) for the day (Matthew 6:11).
Giving More Than Receiving
I see the blessings that occur when we give and I can firmly say that God has ALWAYS taken care of me financially.
Important: Never expect anything in return – whether from God or from anyone. It’s best to blindly give without expectations.
Tip #1: Open a few savings accounts and nickname each to know what they represent.
For instance, I have the following savings accounts labelled: personal, outings, parents, and special projects.
Here’s what they represent:
- Personal: my own emergency fund.
- Outings: money my fiancé and I have for trips, dates, food, etc.
- Parents: money I saved for my parents in case they need it.
- Special Projects: I change the name of this one to represent the special project. At one point, I thought I was going to move away so I labeled this one Apartment.
Tip #2: Through your bank, set up automatic withdrawals on your payday to have a % going to each of those savings accounts.
In other words, have 5 to 10% of your paycheck deposited into each of those accounts. I think for two of my savings accounts, I would deposit once a month, but the other two, I kept at biweekly.
I know you can do this through your job’s paycheck portal, but I find it easier to manage through my bank.
Tip #3: Live within your means.
Learn to say no when you can’t. It’s fun to hang out every weekend, but if you really want to have financial success, you must learn to say no. (See why it’s best to have a savings account dedicated to outings? You’ll have more chances to say YES!)
Be balanced. (No pun intended — haha 🙂 )
Tip #4: Look at your year-end reports for your accounts, especially credit cards.
Here is a look at one of my credit card’s year-end spending report:
Last year, we took a few family trips and all the expenses were put on my card to accumulate points.
One financial advice I am going to squeeze in here is to set a budget before traveling. If you don’t have the cash to pay for it, don’t do it! Don’t use a credit card when you don’t have the cash! – This is another tip that can be added to your financial advice index card.
It’s always good to assess your spending habits and see where you can cut back.
My Credit Card
I use my Chase Sapphire card whenever I travel because of its many benefits. Their customer service is truly concierge.
Short story: When I went to DC about two years ago, the car we rented gave us so many issues and the car rental company wanted us to pay for it. Thankfully, everything was resolved with the car rental company the day of (they didn’t properly service the car), but Chase Sapphire’s customer service helped so much through this ordeal and through our entire trip.
Tip #4a: Checking Accounts: Spending Habits, Living Minimally, and Hidden Fees!
I reviewed my 2018 checking account statements and I realized how wasteful I can be with money. I didn’t work for the majority of 2018 so I was able to see the change from when I was working to the time after I quit my job.
I splurged on unnecessary things, but for some reason, I thought I needed them. We get caught up on what we see or hear (“you have to try this” or “this helped me” or “only $20 a month for this”) – if you didn’t need it before, why would you need it now or all of a sudden?
What I do now is I try to find a free alternative to whatever it is I want and if I can’t, I try to assess the value of having the item. I take my time on making a decision (few weeks) and I don’t feel the pressure of buying it.
Now, I have been living minimally and I love it. It is possible to live simply and be extremely happy. You’ll definitely have less anxiety about money.
Importance of Living Minimally – Add this to your financial advice index card!
When you don’t have debt or monthly payments, you are able to make big decisions without fear.
For example, if you have a monthly car payment or student loans or a substantial monthly gym bill, it is REALLY hard to quit your job and start chasing after your dreams.
Did you know the bank charges you monthly fees for not meeting their requirements on an account (checking or savings)? That being said, if you follow Tip #2,make sure you have enough funds in each of those accounts either already there or transferred into those accounts monthly to avoid those charges.
Let’s look at the losses for these hidden fees: For a checking account, Chase charges $12 per month if you don’t have enough funds in it or if your direct deposit is below their minimum. It’s not much, but $12 x 12 months = $144 you are giving away to Chase. I’d rather use that for an outing!
One of our joint accounts was losing $12 monthly throughout last year because we weren’t putting enough funds into it. What a loss on our part!
Tip #5: Save for your future wedding!
(Even if you are single now or don’t have plans to ever marry!)
I used to randomly pin cute wedding ideas on my Pinterest page. I never had any idea of how much a wedding would cost. It wasn’t until I started planning a wedding that I realized how crazy expensive everything is!
However old you are and whatever your plans may be, save for a wedding. God only knows what may happen in your future. What if you decide to get married? What if you don’t get married, but have that nice lump saved for whatever you want to do next…
MORE FREE FINANCIAL ADVICE, BUT NOW FOCUSED ON YOUR TAXES
It’s currently tax season and I just got my taxes done. I wanted to share with you what helps me receive a great tax return.
I am very thankful to God for the wisdom He gives me in managing my finances because only He knows how much I pray for wisdom in all areas of my life.
Tip #6: Before you file, go through ALL of your statements.
I go through all of my card statements. I highlight each applicable item and place it into a category (Health, School, Business, Donations, etc.).
I open a new spreadsheet and add the charges for each category. I double and triple check it. Thankfully, excel formulas are less prone to error than typing it into a calculator.
Tip #7: File your taxes as early as possible and with an expert
Simple. Get organized and get it done! I prefer going to an expert because it gives me peace of mind.
Tip #8: Charitable contributions
Remember the first two pieces of (free) financial advice I gave? 🙂
They emphasized going to God first for wisdom with your finances, and the importance of giving tithe + offering + to others.
I feel like God worked out things so nicely. You are able to deduct charitable contributions! Once you have your tax return, you can give your tithe and offering again back to God.
RELATIONSHIP FINANCIAL ADVICE
Tip #9: Make sure you and your partner are on the same page with the finances
If you are new in a relationship and are trying to see where it’s going, open a joint account to learn how you each manage your money.
During my teen years, I read so many books which talked about money being the first problem in relationships. (I started reading relationship books early because I wanted to be very prepared for my future relationship. Haha 🙂 )
My fiancé and I did this within the year of our relationship (at that time we were just boyfriend and girlfriend), and we learned that we were on the same page when it came to our finances. We thought alike in every aspect! That is a huge plus!
USING APPS TO SAVE MONEY
Tip #10: Using finance apps, shopping apps, and food & drink apps can help you save
Currently, this is my favorite app. With Ibotta, I earn cashback on purchases as long as the item is offered in the app. Sometimes they have general items like “water bottle” or “grocery” or “frozen chicken” which give you a few cents for any brand purchased. You do need to scan the receipt to get the credit.
There are no hidden catches and you don’t have to put in any money. All you do is buy your groceries, search the app for items on your receipt, scan the receipt using the app, and get cashback!
I am already buying some of the items on there so why not get a few dollars or cents back for them! I am 10 cents away from cashing my balance! Can’t wait!
Update: We recently had a random stop in Orlando and we booked the room through Ibotta using one of their retailers: Priceline. I received 5% cash back on that booking. Sometimes they have 7% cash back deals with another retailer. Our jobs may have perks that give us better deals than through these retailers, but when it is something last minute, we may not find affordable prices at good hotels. Ibotta worked for me in this case!
Target has become one of my favorite stores. That being said, I don’t buy a lot at Target because I find Costco and Publix can have better deals.
Before I go into Target, I make a shopping list; otherwise, I feel I would buy unnecessary items – Target sucks you in! Then, I check Cartwheel offers, and other coupons that may be available. Target may offer gift cards for purchasing certain items and that’s a deal!
At my last Target stop, my total balance was reduced by $7 and I received a $5 gift card.
(And after my purchases, I use Ibotta! Ha 🙂
To me, this app is like an extra savings account without the fees that the bank imposes. It is an investing app, but with no risks to me – mainly because I only have $5 going into it monthly. I never really check it because I use it as another savings.
Last year while I wasn’t working, I saw that I had $286 which I withdrew at one point. I gave to God what was His and used the rest to pay a bill I had. I am thankful this backup money came in handy. If you’d like to give it a try, get $5 when you use my invite link: click here!
Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A Apps
Aside from convenience in ordering, when you use food and drinks apps, you get added bonuses.
For example, at Starbucks, I have been able to get free drinks with Starbucks rewards. Granted, you save more money by avoiding these places, but if you do use them, it’s best to use the app.
And at Chick-Fil-A, I have received free food items based on points I have accumulated. If I can save, I am a happy camper!
I recently purchased movie tickets from our company’s perks page because they are usually half price.
Then, I downloaded the Regal Cinema App and entered in the code for these tickets in the promo code section.
Using their app for purchases gives you points which in turn gives you free popcorn and drinks. If you are making snack purchases while there, why not use the app and accumulate points?
That’s a wrap!
In the end, you have to take the (free) financial advice that works best for you. While I was in my teens, I did my best to educate myself financially. I am by no means an expert, but I can continue to pray and make wise choices that will help me live the life God designed me to live.
Don’t forget to make the financial advice index card and place it somewhere you will see it often.
It’s never too late to accept financial advice and make wise financial decisions.
Do you have any tips or tricks that I did not mention above? I would love to know! Please comment below!