The pandemic and the onslaught of lockdowns taught me so much about the value of money, particularly about ensuring I have more than enough for the unexpected. In this case, the unexpected was a salary cut. I know I still had it easier compared to others during those tough times. But it really served as a wake-up call to me to fix my poor financial status.

Fast forward to 2 years later, I’m happy to say that I have managed to significantly improve my financial state. I paid off my credit card debts and I have savings and even a few investments. I have learned my lesson well. But still, I wish I had been able to do this earlier on in life, particularly back in my twenties when I just started earning my own money. It’s not too late for me to recover from my financial blunders but I know I would be in a better financial standing had I learned early on. And because sharing is caring, here are money lessons for the twenty-something-year-olds out there.

My Six Money Lessons

Have more than 1 income stream

My twenty-something-year-old self had side hustles. I put my writing skills to work and got paid for it. But then I got complacent and eventually gave it all up. I figured my job pays me well enough that I could not only contribute to paying some of our household bills but also pay for my needs and wants. It’s only now that I’m in my late thirties that I realize the value of having multiple income streams.

I’m determined to multiply my income again. These days, I’m doing that by selling stuff via Carousell (visit my Carousell store) or Facebook Marketplace. Writing in this blog. And having a small online business. But I’m only getting started. I’m fully intent on having more sources of income.

For those of you who’ve just started his/her first job, here’s one of my money lessons for you twenty-something-year-olds: don’t just depend on your salary. Look for more opportunities to earn.

Save money

I didn’t have much savings when I was in my twenties. I would save and then dip into my savings when I was low on cash. I would never return the money. It’s only later on in life that I saw the value of saving for a rainy day.

These days, I not only have an emergency fund, I also save for the stuff I want to do such as travel, a staycation, or even for a material item. I have multiple savings accounts for each savings goal. With this advice, you can even use a savings goal calculator to find out how much your existing savings will increase and how much more you need to set aside each month to reach a specific savings goal in a specific amount of time achieve a given savings goal within a given number of years.

Curb impulse buying

I am a material girl with shopaholic tendencies. When I was in my twenties and about to quit my job, I went to the mall and shopped my lil’ heart out using my credit card. A new jacket. One pair of fabulous shoes. And I forgot what else I bought that day but I bought a lot. Just cause I was in my retail therapy mode and saw cute shiny stuff. I also once bought a pair of heels that I simply spotted on display while passing by the store.

If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself to curb my impulse-buying behavior and instead learn the value of waiting. Finance experts said that if you find something you like, don’t buy it immediately. Instead, wait for a while. A few days. Maybe a week. Or longer. If you can’t forget the item after some time has passed, then go ahead and buy it. Chances are, you’d have forgotten all about it after a few days. I’m only practicing delayed gratification now.

Invest your money

Finance experts say that savings alone is not enough especially when you consider inflation! The smart thing to do is to have both savings and investments to grow your money. I started investing when I was in my late twenties but since I was bad at saving, I hardly had any money for investing too. I’m only now taking a good look at my finances and getting serious about growing my money.

For the younger ones out there, start investing as you can. You’d be in a better place to take risks with your finances in a bid to multiply your money.

Credit cards are not extra cash

I remember begging my Dad to give me a supplementary card when I was in my twenties. It was a time when no bank would approve my credit card application because I wasn’t earning much. But Dad kept refusing to do so because I was an impulse buyer and having a credit card in my hands would be dangerous to my finances. LOL! How right he was!

So am I saying don’t get a credit card? Hell no! I still use credit cards these days. What I’m saying is, learn to use it responsibly. Use it to pay for big-ticket items and strive to pay it all off as soon as you can.

Do not spend more than you can afford

Being an impulse buyer and an irresponsible credit card user – it’s a very bad combination. Whatever I earned from my job and side hustles, all go down the drain as quickly as I earned it which is really sad! I finally got tired of it and decided to fix my act. But I would like to tell the younger version of me to get it together earlier. Imagine all the money I could have already saved or put into investments by now if I wasn’t such a spendthrift. So here’s another of my money lessons for twenty-something-year-olds: spend within your means. Your future self will thank you later.

Parting Words

Fixing my financial state isn’t an easy task because these are years of undoing bad money habits. But without going through these financial setbacks, I wouldn’t have learned to see the big picture: good money habits are the key to achieving financial freedom. That’s the bottom line of all money lessons for twenty-something-year-olds out there.