Our 20s are often years of change- for the most part we are figuring out what we want to “do”– where we want to live and work, who we want to live with, our relationships and our friendships.
With so much going on, these years of our lives can become quite the money-minefield, and cash can seemingly disappear into a black hole when our backs are turned.
Change is expensive- I am 26, and over the last 6 years I have lived in 7 different homes (not including month long stays at friend’s houses and temporary accommodation whilst I interned in London). The cost of moving house alone is staggering. Let alone our desires to keep up with our peers, buy a house, experience the world, and enjoy a social life- all the while negotiating sky high rents and less than generous starting salaries.
If we want to make sure that our cash doesn’t do that disappearing act, we have to have a firm grip on our finances and a budget in place in our 20s. That’s not to say we won’t still make some money mistakes, we are only human. As long as we can learn from them, we can grow from them and make our financial futures that little bit brighter.
So, if you’re in your 20s like me and navigating that money minefield- who better to learn from than money bloggers who have done it all before? 25 UK money bloggers have kindly offered to share some pearls of wisdom about what they wish they knew in their 20s…
Emma from The Money Whisperer
The true power of compound interest over time! I would have put a lot more in my pension as soon as I started my first job so I never really had a chance to know any different!
Emma from Bee Money Savvy
Stop sweating small change and focus on the bigger stuff like moving up the career ladder, increasing savings and finding worthwhile side hustles!
Catherine from The Money Panel
I wish I really just took the time to stop spending and value experiences over things. I spent my 20’s in my overdraft and wish I’d automated my savings and investment earlier.
Pete from Household Money Saving
I wish I would have known the importance of shopping around for the best prices when it comes to utilities and insurance. A few minutes could have saved me a lot more money!
Claire from The Money Freak
I wish I had known that Credit Cards were not ‘free money’ and that I’d have to pay them back!
Katy from Katy Kicker
I wish I had known that pensions build up quite so much and the earlier you start the better!
Fiona from Miss Penny Money
I wish I’d known the dangers of credit cards, car finance, and the importance of saving a percentage of your salary each month for your pension and the future!
Francesca from From Pennies to Pounds
I wish I had started saving a lot more money and working from home from the start. That’s a lot of money that I have missed out on over the years!
Victoria from Lylia Rose
That I could have got cashback on almost everything I purchased online!
Or from Savvy Londoner
I wish I had known how to create (and live with) a monthly budget. The moment I started making a budget ahead of each month (sometime in my 30s), my finances changed completely. It’s such an eye-opener to track your expenses and decide exactly what you WANT (and need) to spend your money on. The budget was one of the main reasons I was able to finally clear out my debts.
Martyna from Money Saving Girl
I wish I started using the system earlier, when I mean the system I am thinking of using all available options on the market to our financial advantage e.g. Having multiple bank accounts
Katie from Katie Saves
Don’t take on credit for a loved one who can’t! You might think you’re doing them a favour but there’s a reason they aren’t credit worthy and you could end up paying for it in the long run. Lesson learned the hard way by putting purchases on my credit card for an ex who never paid me back and helping a family member out who also stopped paying me. Never again!
Sara from Debt Camel
Sara saw Katie’s advice and wanted to add that not taking on credit for a friend also applies to guarantor loans. Guarantor loans such as Amigo are VERY expensive – 50% APR. You are not helping your friend or relative by helping them get one of these loans – suggest they need debt advice instead – and many of them end up having to be repaid by the guarantor, wrecking your finances and credit record.
Lynn from Mrs Mummy Penny
Why oh why did I opt out of lucrative pension schemes throughout my 20s. Retirement felt too far away to sacrifice £150 per month. I hate to think what it would be worth now.
Melissa from Skinny Spending
I wish I just hadn’t bought so much “stuff” in my 20s – clothes, CDs, DVDs. I earned a good wage but still had a credit card and never saved anything for a rainy day. My advice to myself would be to start the Dave Ramsey baby steps and cut down on buying things!
Perry from Stupid is the Norm
Advice to my 20 year old self: stay with your parents as long as possible. Whilst there you will never have fewer bills and more disposable income. Invest 70% of that income in a low cost global Index Tracker. Do this for 10 years foregoing all ‘normal’ activities e.g. holidays, weekends on the drink etc. In 10 years do what the hell you want as you’ll have amassed enough money to retire – if you want.
David from Money for Monday
Mine would be not to be afraid to take jobs outside of your comfort zone and take a longer term view of which jobs or career might provide a comfortable lifestyle later on down the line.
Nikki from The Female Money Doctor
I would tell my 20 year old self to keep control of my own money and NOT allow my (now ex) boyfriend to control it all. I had no freedom and no life, no savings and then walked away from an 8 year relationship with no money from the property I paid into for 4 years. What an idiot!
Ellyree from Budgeting is a Challenge
I wish I could have told myself that I could manage with a perfectly good old car and not be convinced into buying another really expensive one, because my boyfriend at the time thought it was dangerous. It was perfectly safe. So I would say be confident in your own opinion and write down what both options will cost, before committing to the purchase.
Faith from Much More with Less
I wish I had bought fewer brands and stashed more cash when I was earning a fair whack. Shudder to think how much the Ocado deliveries, takeaways, taxis, Waterstones habit and duty free purchases accounted for. Also really wish I’d started investing earlier. Even a small amount each month would now be worth so much more!
Michelle from Time and Pence
I wish I had realised that a ‘job’ is not the only way to earn money. I could have saved myself so much time working in jobs I didn’t enjoy and had more time to do the things I like doing and spend time with the people I love earlier.
Lisa from Living Thrifty
I wish I’d stopped trying to look the part. When I was earning decent money I wasted a lot on buying fancy things and I could have saved so much money and bought an even bigger house instead. Now I see my 20s as the years to pinch the pennies and slog so I can live comfortably and wealthily for the rest of my life!
Jane from Shoestring Cottage
I wish I had learned to budget earlier and manage my money. I had a lot of unnecessary debt and was always overdrawn because I didn’t have a clue what was coming in or going out. I wish school had provided a thorough financial education too. Then I would have made fewer mistakes, saved more and invested money throughout my life.
So there we have it! 25 snippets of wisdom from the people who know personal finance best. Does anything jump out at you from this list? For me something that has been on my ‘to do’ list for a while now is to start investing in the stock market- and by the looks of this advice, there is no time like the present!
You might also enjoy this post where top money bloggers share their best side hustle ideas.