Your twenties are a time when much of your outlook and approach to life begins to take shape. It’s also a time when everything seems to be conspiring against you and your wallet (thanks a bunch, rising cost of living).
Fortunately, there are plenty of little things you can do to lay the foundation for future financial security. Here are just a few habits you can work on cultivating now that’ll help you down the track.
Track your expenses
Let’s be honest, no one’s going to budget their way into riches, but that’s not to say it’s not a downright essential habit. Keeping track of your finances gives you a clear picture of where your money is going each month, which is the first step towards identifying and eliminating any unnecessary expenses. From there, you can adjust your spending to make sure you always have cash for the important things.
To help you out, there are plenty of apps nowadays that take the pain out of budgeting. In fact, many allow you to link your card, meaning you won’t have to manually enter your expenses. Most banks have a budgeting tool within their apps, allowing their services to become a one-stop shop for all things personal finance and making it that much easier to keep an eye on your spending.
This one goes hand in hand with tracking your expenses. Once you have a reasonable idea of how much money is coming and going, you can map out how much you plan to save over the long term. You might have a specific financial target in mind, let’s say $10,000 by the end of the year, or you might be saving for an upcoming holiday. Whatever the case, focusing on your goal will keep you disciplined and less likely to overspend.
Embrace frugal living
Being frugal doesn’t mean giving up everything you love and living like a pauper. It just means being more mindful when it comes to spending. By not giving in to every indulgence, spending a little time researching better deals, and cutting back on things you don’t need, you can save plenty.
What does this look like in practice? Shopping around for a cheaper internet plan, packing a lunch each day, and getting rid of any idle subscriptions are good places to start.
Be wary of money wasters
Once you’ve drafted your budget, you might be surprised to learn just how much you’re spending on things like Uber rides, drinks and takeout. For some, reining in these expenses even a little bit might come with a social penalty. After all, it can be tough to save money when regular outings with friends compel you to spend at every turn. If this is the case, try suggesting an occasional inexpensive alternative to your usual plans. Picnics, homemade dinners, hikes and visits to the beach are sure to go over well.
Use buy now, pay later services wisely
Buy now, pay later services (like Afterpay and ZipMoney) let you purchase items upfront and pay them off in installments without interest. If you can manage the repayments and resist the urge to buy more things than you can afford, they can be a useful budgeting tool. But if you treat them as a license to splurge, you could very easily find yourself in over your head in debt.
Linking your credit card might make things worse, as you could be paying interest on purchases you’ve made, defeating the purpose of those services to begin with.
Watch out for credit card debt
Like buy now, pay later services, it’s easy to get swept up in the convenience of credit cards. If you don’t use them responsibly, it’s only a few missed payments before things can get out of hand.
To avoid finding yourself in a precarious financial position, make sure you shop around for a fee-free credit card that comes with a low interest rate, pay off your balance in full each month, and avoid making purchases that you can’t really afford. You should also take advantage of many of the spending tools that now come with many banking apps, such as spending alerts.
About Kirsty: Kirsty Lamont is a Director at financial comparison website mozo.com.au. She is passionate about helping everyday Australians make more informed money choices on everything from their credit cards to their home insurance.