At 25, getting on top of your finances may feel as though it's at the bottom of your priority list. After all, you’ve got the rest of your life to worry about all that mundane money stuff, right? But, with uncertain economic times on the horizon, the earlier you start thinking about money management the better. Making important financial decisions in your 20s will allow you to set yourself up well for the future.
To get some insight into where to start, we spoke to CFO Virginia Marshall who shared the top five money management tips she would pass onto her younger self given the chance.
Know where your money is going
If you’re wanting to get ahead financially, it’s really important to get a hold on where your money is going and form some good habits early on. It may take some effort on your part and it might be a little confronting, but keeping a log of your expenses can be a really useful way to see whether you’re living within your means and where you might be wasting money.
It’s perfectly normal to splash out on a few luxuries here and there, but if you’re spending hundreds of dollars each week on online shopping or nights out with your friends, you might be putting yourself on the back foot. Finding a budgeting method that works for you, whether it involves a classic spreadsheet or an app, is a great way to help you change your spending habits and keep you on track to reach your financial goals.
Start investing early
Sure, it may not be the most exciting way to use your hard-earned money, but choosing to invest early could see you enjoy greater returns in the future. Although the results may be different for everyone, investing early gives you more time to grow your wealth than you would otherwise have if you started investing later in life. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it certainly won’t help your investments grow!
Make purchases based on value rather than cost
It's a trap that we’ve all likely fallen into, especially when it comes to buying things like clothing and shoes, but making purchases based on value instead of cost could leave you better off financially.
What does this mean? Well, one item might be cheaper than another, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it will be of the same quality. Although you might need to spend more initially for a higher quality item, these are likely to last you longer and you’ll avoid having to pay for repairs or replacements that may add up to well over what you’d spend for a once-off quality purchase.
This is true for many items, including cars, electronics and household goods. Do your research, read reviews and weigh up whether a quick, cheap fix really is the best solution.
Be prepared for future emergencies
While it might be all sunshine and rainbows at this point in your life, there’s nothing more important than preparing yourself for any future financial uncertainty. Whether it’s losing a job, having to pay unexpected expenses or needing to access cash quickly, building out an emergency fund is one thing that many people wish they did sooner. It’s best to aim for a balance roughly equal to three to six months of average expenses, but the more you can save, the better. Hopefully you won’t have to use it, but you can sleep easier knowing that it’s there if the need arises.
Plan for the future
Although it might not be top of your priority list when you’re 25, taking some time to plan for the future can help to set you up for when retirement rolls around. Instead of just focusing on short term goals, such as buying a new car or booking a holiday, be sure to keep longer term goals in mind too. Whether it's saving for a house deposit, beefing up your superannuation if you’re planning to have children, or building a nice little nest egg to retire with, the small actions and sacrifices that you make now are well worth it in the long run.
What if you’ve already navigated through your 20s?
Even if you’re entering your 30s, 40s or 50s, it’s never too late to take stock of your finances and start managing your money more wisely! A great place to start is checking in on your superannuation to see how it’s tracking. There are some easy ways to show it some love, from combining any accounts that you may have set up throughout your career, to salary sacrificing a little of your pay each fortnight or month to help boost your balance.
Next, if you’ve got several credit cards on the go at once, consider consolidating your debt to avoid having to pay multiple monthly fees. If you’re already juggling your career, kids and other commitments, having a single repayment each month, instead of several, can also help to make tracking your outgoing expenses a little easier. Finally, no matter what age you may be, setting up a monthly budget is a great way to manage your spending, allowing you to track exactly where your hard earned cash is going. Take some time to analyse your current spending and identify where you could be saving more.