When it comes to making smart moves in life age is not a determinant. You can make choices at any level in your lifetime but they have to be good ones that would not only benefit your life currently but years to come. Life does not warn people before it throws things at them, that is why you need to be prepared and the best time to start that is in your 20s. Fine, you might still be single and someday you will eventually end up with a man, nevertheless you need to brace yourself and make positive financial choices that can set you up to the next level and at the same time take care of your future.

Spend less than you make

Making a habit of living on less than you make will help you reach your financial goals much quicker and easier. If you get used to this early, it will get you in the habit of saving more and spending less, allowing you to save for big purchases— such as a house or car  and put more money toward your retirement. Spending less than you make will also help you avoid credit card debt. Using credit cards to build your credit can help prepare you for when it’s time to make one of those big purchases, but you have to make sure you’re doing it the right way. Spending less than you make requires you to pick and choose. Maybe you don’t go to every destination wedding, every group dinner or every girls’ night out. Or maybe you go to dinner, but eat before you go so you aren’t stuck with a big bill when everyone splits the check.You can have a social life without draining your wallet. Decide what’s most important to you and start saving for those things. In the long run, you’ll be glad you aren’t buried in credit card debt for tapas and hangovers you never wanted anyway.

Create a Financial Plan

A financial plan can include everything from your career plan to your retirement plan. If that feels like too much start out with a five-year plan. Where do you want to be in five years? What do you need to do financially to get there? Then break it down into yearly and monthly goals and steps. Be sure to include long-term goals like retirement as part of your plan. This may include going back to school to get your education to help with your next career goal.

Save between 15% and 20% of your income

If you’re spending less than you make, then you should be able to start saving every month. Put some away in emergency savings — a fund you can easily access if a big unexpected expense comes up — and put the rest toward long-term goals and saving for your retirement.  The traditional rule of thumb for emergency savings is to have three to six months worth of living expenses in an account that’s easily accessible — for emergencies or situations like a job loss. When you aren’t making a whole lot of money, saving can be tough, but it’s always possible. If you’re having trouble finding money in the budget to save, start with a small amount each month — maybe 1% – 5% — and work your way up.

Don’t buy designer clothing at retail price

You never wear it as much as you think you will. There are so many ways now to buy designer clothing at discount prices, and seriously, no one will ever know (if you care) that you bought it on sale. Shopping at consignment shops can save you up to 90%, and that’s a lot of money back in your pocket.  If you like trying the clothes on first, and you’re up for a little digging, check out places like Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack and DSW for designer clothing at up to 60% savings. 

Start saving for retirement NOW

It’s so easy to think I’ll always have time to save later — but time is money, folks! The early you start saving, the more time your money has to grow — giving you a much bigger chunk of cash in the future. And you don’t have to save a ton. Start with baby steps, increasing your contributions every month or even every six months — and the increases are so small that you won’t even notice the money missing! When it comes to saving for retirement, your best bet is to have the money automatically deducted from your paycheck so you never even see it in your account. That way, you won’t miss it. If you have a 401(k) at work, start saving money through automatic withdrawals each time you get paid. If your employer offers an employer match, that is essentially free money, so try to save enough to get that match.

 Make Sure You Are Budgeting

Budgeting is one of the biggest tools to managing your money properly. When you are single, it is easy to justify not creating a budget. Your expenses are straightforward and if you pay your bills what does it matter when and how you spend your money?

However, your budget can help you find areas you can cut back on spending to put more money toward savings or debt. Make your income a tool, and budget effectively. This does not mean you should not have fun, but determine how much you can afford to spend while working on your financial plan and stick to that amount.

Focus on Climbing the Career Ladder

Now is a great time to focus on climbing the career ladder. It takes time and hard work to move up. Make clear goals and determine what you need to do to reach them. This may mean switching companies, moving to another city or going back to school. Or it may mean that you do side work or create a professional network and find a mentor to help you reach that goal. And remember, it’s OK to switch directions at some point and choose to go a new direction if you find a better fit for you. Dreams can change, but the key is to keep moving forward toward that dream.

Don’t Forget Life Insurance

When you are single, you may be tempted to skip need life insurance, especially if you do not have a child or anyone you are financially responsible for. But regardless of your marriage or family situation, you should have a life insurance policy large enough to cover funeral costs, as well as any outstanding debt you might have. This will avoid leaving the burden of those expenses on your family or friends. Many employers offer a basic policy that will cover those costs. If you are responsible for helping someone out financially, you may want to consider taking out a larger policy that they can live off for a few years or longer.

Build Your Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is essential if you are single. It can be the thing that save you from being homeless if you were to suddenly lose your job. It can also help cover unexpected expenses like home repairs, a pet’s illness, or an unexpected trip. For people living on one income, a year’s worth of expense is a good goal, though you can start with six months if that seems unrealistic.

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