A lack of experience or knowledge shouldn’t stand in the way of smart money moves.

5 minute read

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Oh to be young and carefree! You have energy and gusto to make the world your oyster. There are so many good things about being young that older folks envy.

However, there are two things older people have that younger ones don’t: experience and (sometimes) wisdom. They say those things only come as you experience life and learn from it.

Younger, more naive people often focus mainly on the short term. That mindset makes it harder to save money. Click or swipe through these seven ways you can have your cake and save it, too, no matter how old you are.

1. Educate yourself via online content or personal finance courses

Educate yourself via online content or personal finance courses.

As a digital native, you already spend a lot of time online. Take advantage of all the free knowledge on the web that your parents never had access to when they were your age. Look for content that covers current trends and personal finance issues. Learn about interest rates, regulatory measures, and changing financial technology. It’s also important to stay updated on specific money, savings, and retirement tips.

Besides our own library of personal finance content, you can uncover other thought leadership on sites like Kiplinger, Bankrate, and MyMoney.gov. Then, try online courses. Some cost money and some are free. They include Ramsey Solutions’ Financial Peace University, Udemy.com’s Personal Finance Courses, and Alison.com’s Financial Literacy Course.

2. Learn from and listen to older (or smarter) people in your life

There’s no need to go through the same money mistakes your elders experienced. Talk to your parents, boss, or family friends. They can tell you what they did wrong and how they’d do it differently now that they know better.

Pick their brain about a specific money decision you have to make. Their experiences may save you plenty of grief as well as time and money. Listen carefully, ask questions, and seek advice that helps you take action.

3. Put off large purchases and try alternatives

Put off large purchases and try alternatives.

Many young people have already decided to put off buying a vehicle or house for several years. Instead, they rent and use public transportation or walk to work. Many people buy big-ticket items used or refurbished through apps and online exchanges. If you’re not trying these strategies, start now. If you wait on big purchases, you’ll have more money to stash away in a savings account, emergency fund, or even retirement.

If you’re thinking about splurging on large purchases like a boat, RV or other “toys,” remember that instant gratification only provides temporary satisfaction. And, if you’re thinking about college, consider alternative ways to cover costs. Scholarships and grants may be a better option than student loans.

Knowing you’ll have funds to cover the unexpected or enjoy big-ticket items later in life can go a long way towards helping you feel secure and happy now.

4. Use online services and apps to start saving and investing your pocket change

Although many younger folks already know how to save, there are always ways to do it better. Apps and tools provide ways to automatically set money aside each time you get paid. Some let you round up purchases and take the difference in change, putting it in an account of your choice. “Micro investing” apps, like Acorns, even let you put that pocket change into stocks right away.

Various money savings apps go even deeper with their savings tactics. Trim looks to uncover hidden charges and fees you don’t need to pay to financial institutions. Paribus uses your receipts to find other ways to save more pennies. Some apps identify where you can spend less on groceries. Others give you coupons you can use after shopping to find cheaper gas, parking, and other products.

5. Focus on four primary goals

Focus on four primary goals: “Save,” “Spend,” “Give,” and “Grow.”

Part of being young means living in the moment (Although people of all ages should aspire to this). Thinking ahead and having goals doesn’t always mix well with youth. But, when it comes to saving money, setting financial goals is easier if you use specific tactics.

Focus on four buckets:

  1. Save (specific places to save money and how much you can save)
  2. Spend (where you should spend for necessities, bills, and things that make working worth it)
  3. Give (how you can affordably add purpose to your life through social giving)
  4. Grow (how you can make your money work for you and provide security later in life)

Once you’ve identified what makes up these four areas, create specific tactics for each year that can help you achieve your financial goals. If you’re not sure, swipe back to the slides on getting help from others or leveraging online content and courses.

6. Make a budget to understand what life costs

Nothing helps you understand what you can spend each month – along with what you’ve actually been spending – like putting it in writing. Even the most naive person can use basic math to see how much money comes in each month, how much goes out, and where. Accounting for every purchase and bill makes it vividly clear that your money isn’t evaporating into thin air – it’s actually paying for things you may – or may not need.

A budget doesn’t just teach you about your own money habits. It keeps you accountable to yourself and helps you change bad habits into discipline. Typically, keeping a budget means seeing what you spent and comparing it to the amount you set aside for that category. You’ll see if you hit your target or not. If you don’t, then you need to change your spending behavior.

7. Avoid the credit trap

Avoid the credit trap.

Millions of people make this mistake. They let impulsive behavior or instant gratification drive their money decisions. If you do this, you’ll fall straight into the credit trap. Before you know it, you have a mountain of debt that requires much of your hard-earned money to get rid of.

Avoid personal loans as much as possible. Don’t take on too many credit cards. Focus on the satisfaction of saving up for purchases over time. And, if life throws you a curveball that savings doesn’t cover, use credit sparingly or consider strategies to negotiate the price down.

8. Young, but maybe not so naive

While younger people today may be savvier in many ways than their predecessors were at the same age, everyone needs assistance from time to time. If you look for sensible advice, use helpful tools, and spend money appropriately, you can save more money earlier in life and set yourself up for a stable financial situation as you get older.

Click here to sign up for our free financial education email course.

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About the Author

John Boitnott

John Boitnott

I am a tech writer and journalist for more than 20 years who contributes to several respected online publications including BusinessInsider, Inc., and Entrepreneur. In addition to journalism, writing about social good companies and in-depth research, I’m also active in my community and enjoy metaphysical book reading groups, as well as hiking on the amazing trails of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Published by Debt.com, LLC