Young adults face countless new hurdles as they venture out and create a life for their own away from the safety of school or their parents. And one of the biggest hurdles that many young adults face is becoming financially independent. If you’re used to having all your meals served to you or having rent paid for you, it may be difficult to get used to paying for your own groceries and living accommodations.
However, finding financial independence is achievable. There are countless tips that every young and independent adult should keep in mind, but these are four of the most important that everyone should know.
Keep an eye on costs
When you live at home or at school, there are tons of costs that are often covered for you. Many students, for example, eat at university dining halls, and might not really get a sense of how much a month’s worth of groceries costs.
Learning to be a financially independent young adult means learning how much things cost, and how much of them you need in a given month. If you’re not already, start tracking your spending. (Luckily, these days, there are tons of free apps that can help with that!)
If you’ve just started using a credit card, it’s also important to learn how much having your card is costing you. Knowing how to calculate compound interest, for example, can give you insight into how much money you’re losing by not paying off your card in full and on time each month.
This should be no secret, but: you need to earn money to spend money. While savings tricks, budgeting, and spending analysis can help you out, the fact is that the only way to be financially comfortable is to have enough money coming in to cover all your costs and save.
Financial independence will most likely involve finding work. Your first job as a young adult might be entry-level, or might be in the service industry, but gaining experience and earning a paycheck on your own merits is an important part of learning to live as a financially independent individual. Luckily, these days there are plenty of places to look for internships and entry-level positions!
Learn to build a budget
Budgeting may appear to be a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked at how few people actually sit down and plan out their spending. Having an accurate monthly budget may make a huge difference in your long-term financial health, since spending too much each month (even if it’s only a little) can quickly mount up and cause significant financial problems.
It’s time to get serious about budgeting. Take a look at how much you’ve spent on average in the last several months. Has it proven to be effective for you? Have you managed to save anything? If this isn’t the case, or if you’re not saving as much as you’d like, it’s time to get real about creating a budget.
Start saving sooner rather than later
Lastly, you should always, always be saving. Savings is critical for a number of reasons, even if you’re young:
- You might have goals like buying a car or funding international travel.
- You may encounter a surprise medical expense.
- It’s good to have savings in case you lose your job.
- The earlier you start saving for retirement, the easier it will be to retire when you want to.
- Longer-term goals like getting married, having kids, and buying a house are also important to consider.
It may feel like everything you’re saving for is far away, but saving takes time and patience, so it’s important to start now. Keep these tips in mind as you forge your path in the world as an independent young adult!