5 Financial Mistakes to Avoid in Your Teens and Twenties
November 29, 2019
by guest writer Kristen Moore
I believe that a more financially stable and prosperous future is something that is absolutely attainable for anyone, no matter their starting point.
In fact, one of the reasons I got involved in personal finance is because I had the realization that anyone can do this — even me! I mean, if I was able to go from living paycheck-to-paycheck, being in debt, with nothing in the bank, to someone who lives debt-free, budgets, saves, and invests for the future, then I assure you, ANYONE can! I only wish I had started sooner.
The earlier you begin implementing the following principles of what not to do in your personal finances, the better off you will be. If you are a teenage girl working a part-time, minimum-wage job, or if you are already rocking your dream career, stop what you’re doing and write this down. (Or save it in a note on your phone because, technology!):
- Not tithing and giving. Many young people give in to the idea that they’ll give once they make more money. Truthfully, if you can’t give when you make minimum wage, you won’t give when you make $50,000 a year. Tithing is about submitting yourself to God’s financial plan. If He can trust you with little, then He can trust you with more!
- Piling on student loan debt. When you’re 18, the idea of moving into a space that’s your own far away from home sounds great, but it’s not always wise. If you know what you want to do professionally, that’s great! Go to community college and transfer to a cheaper, in-state school. Live at home. Apply for scholarships and grants. Work a part-time job. If you don’t have a clue what you want to be yet, take some time to work. Save up as much money as you can, and do some research. Once you decide, be smart. There are millions of people in their 30s, 40s, and beyond, still struggling with student loan debt. Don’t let that be you!
- Piling on credit card debt. Credit cards have the highest interest rates of just about any other debt. That 10% you save at the register by opening a new account will be paid many times over by the time you get that card paid off — if you get it paid off. Some credit cards are designed so that if you only pay the minimum monthly payment, your balance will actually increase due to interest. Don’t fall into the trap! Save up your cash to buy those new shoes. You’ll save so much money in the long run.
- Not investing. You, yes, YOU, need to develop an investment strategy. Don’t get scared. It’s way easier than it sounds! Once you’ve mastered saving a percentage (I recommend 15%) of your paycheck and have saved up an emergency fund in your savings account (for emergencies only — not for “retail therapy”), then you can begin investing for the future. The safest and simplest way to do this is to put that 15% that was going to savings into the S&P 500 (stock market). It’s very easy to set up an account with a well-known broker such as Edward Jones, Charles Schwab, or Vanguard (we use this one). You can link your bank account and set up an auto-draft so that every time you get paid, that money will go directly into your investment account. There are many resources on the Internet to help you with this, including YouTube tutorials. The earlier you begin investing, the more magically that compound interest will work in your favor.
- Failing to invest in a financial education. Read books, read blogs, listen to podcasts, etc., that will help you understand your finances better. The greatest investment you can make is in yourself. Even if the subject does not interest you, create the habit of educating yourself periodically. It will help you to stay knowledgeable so you won’t get taken advantage of, and it will help you to remain motivated to stay on the right track.
By implementing these principles, you are setting yourself up for financial success and automatically eliminating future stress. No matter your starting point, your socio-economic background, or your level of financial education, you can learn to be smart with your money and avoid the mistakes that so many other young people make. I believe in you!
Kristen Moore lives in Philadelphia, MS, with her husband, Dustin, and their adorable one-year-old daughter, Madalyn. Kristen serves as music minister at North Bend Pentecostal Church. She and her husband also serve there together as student pastors. During the week, Kristen is blessed to be a stay-at-home mommy.
In September of 2018, Kristen and Dustin started a family blog called Family and Finance, which quickly evolved into a financial coaching business. They are both passionate about helping people learn how to get control of their finances and serve and honor God with their money.
Follow Dustin and Kristen on Instagram at @familyandfinance