What Would You Do Different Financially In Your 20’s?



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Most of my 20’s were a wonderful time. Some years were better than others depending on the situation I was in. I graduated from college (Savannah State University) at the age of 24. I also had the chance to live in wonderful cities such as Savannah, GA, and Orlando, FL. I did a lot of things right during that time. One thing that I didn’t do right was take good care of my finances. I made a couple mistakes financially that I wish I didn’t. Below are a few things that I would do differently.

Save More

I always had a job or a side hustle during my time in college. I never really experienced being a broke college student. I saved a little money here and there, but looking back, I could have easily saved a couple thousand dollars for a “rainy day”. Once I graduated from college a couple “rainy days” happened.  Having a decent savings account could have helped me struggle less during those times. If you are looking for a savings account to start for your rainy day fund, check out the Capital One 360 savings account. I’ve had an emergency account with them for years. They are currently offering a $25 bonus for new users who make a deposit of $250 or more. Click this link for more info.

Pay Attention to Interest Rates

I didn’t fully understand what interest rates were until it was too late. I could have saved myself some money by taking the time to read my statements and get a true understanding of interest. I could have chosen a credit card or a student loan with much better rates than the ones that I have now.

If Traveling With People For The 1st Time, Get Money Upfront!

I’ve had a couple situations where I’ve had to pay extra money on a trip because people canceled at the last minute. It’s not a good feeling having to pay an extra $200 for a hotel room when you didn’t budget for it. Fortunately, this hasn’t happened to me since 2007, but I can still remember that extra charge to the credit card like it was yesterday. I’ve made sure that will never happen again by getting money from people in advance.


I would have done more investing. I had a 401 K with one of my jobs, but in my opinion, that wasn’t enough. Even if I would have put some money in a mutual fund that would have been better than nothing. I refuse to let my 30’s be like that. I recently started investing with Stockpile. They allow you to purchase stock for as low as $10. They are giving all new members $5 when they open up a free account. Sign up for that deal here.

Paying on Student Loans

I promise for at least 2 years I was the king of deferments and forbearances. I thought I was doing it by not paying on my student loans. Fast forward to today. Not only was that not the smartest idea, but the amount that I owe to my lenders (especially Sallie Mae) has damn near doubled. Even though I didn’t have the best-paying jobs immediately after graduation I should have at least paid $50 per month on the loans. My situation would be a little better than it is right now.

Using Credit When I Had Cash

Earlier this year, I paid off my credit card debt. If I was smarter, I would not have had it this long. I could have paid for a couple trips from back in the day with my debit card. Also, I could have relaxed on a few of those Irish Car Bombs for me and my friends.

Now that I’m in my 30’s I refuse to let those things happen again. Over the past couple years, I’ve gotten much better with my finances. I know this is a struggle for many people. There are a few places online that can help you get organized. Personal Capital is a website that has a free tool that shows you your net worth among other things.

What would you do different financially in your 20′? What is one thing that you would tell anybody in their 20’s to do today?


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  1. One thing I would tell someone in their 20’s to do today is to stay away from high street stores unless it’s absolutely necessary. Buy only the things you need and not the things you want.

    Thanks for the insight.

  2. Hire a financial adviser. This should be every college graduate’s gift and if you didn’t attend college, you should invest in getting one before 25.

  3. I handled my general finances well in my twenties, but I didn’t really look at the financial feasibility of the degree I was seeking and whether or not teaching English was the right career choice for me both personally and professionally. I often encourage my niece and nephew to really look at the financial prospects of whatever field they go into. Money isn’t everything, but why not pick a potential career with the best financial outlooks?
    Jeri recently posted…#AuthorInterview: Diana MarinovaMy Profile

  4. Lux

    Definitely all these! But never too late. 🙂
    Lux recently posted…10 Random Life LessonsMy Profile

  5. 1. Not taken out a store card.
    2. Saved £100 each month.

    My advice
    1. Save as much as you can
    2. Start a pension plan the minute you start working
    3. Stay away from credit cards
    4. Live within your means
    5. Choose a degree course that guarantees you a job with a good income.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Who do you serve; yourself or others?My Profile

  6. Good advice, Jason. I was very much a broke college student. I paid my own way with loans and an almost full time job my senior year. Luckily my parents instilled a lot of money sense in their kids, so I had that on my side, but I still wish that I had always, diligently, tucked even $5 a pay into a savings account. Now in my fifties, that then would make even now better!
    Rose M Griffith recently posted…Travel – Surviving Long FlightsMy Profile

  7. What I would do different is put 10% of my pay into some kind of savings plan – just think what a difference that would make over 50 years. If treated it as a living expense it would just become habit and you wouldn’t even miss it. Big sigh – too late for me now.
    Lenie recently posted…Coffee Makers – A Buyer’s GuideMy Profile

  8. Great tips about saving, investing, learning about interest rates, etc.

    However, my favorite is “If Traveling With People For The 1st Time, Get Money Upfront!”

    I can’t tell you how many times not doing this has bit me in the ass…

  9. Great post! Without hesitation, if I could re-write my 20s, I LISTEN more.

    That, and not try to date everyone I possibly could…would have saved quite a few dollars…

  10. More 20-somethings should start investing in real estate! I think a big misconception about real estate investing is that you need a lot of money to get started. You don’t!

    My first property was a 4-unit property in a suburb of Los Angeles that I picked up in my 20s. I lived in one unit and rented out the other three. Single at the time, I also rented out the bedroom in my unit and slept on a mattress in the living room. And guess what? Through the FHA program that Elizabeth mentions, I only had to put 3.5% down!

    This was an incredible deal and has proved to be a major boost to my net worth. I’ll give you 4 reasons: 1) I was living for free while my friends were paying through the nose for L.A. rent, 2) I was building equity as my tenants paid down my mortgage, 3) I was cash flowing hundreds of dollars a month, and 4) I got 4 units an hour from Downtown L.A. for a mere $15,000 out of pocket, and the property has already substantially appreciated.

    The FHA fourplex strategy really is a no-brainer for single Millennials. If one does nothing else in real estate, they will have succeeded by getting into a fourplex as a young man or woman with only 3.5% down.

    Assuming the rents cover their expenses, in 30 years when they’re in their 50s and the mortgage is paid off, and they’ve done the smart thing by raising the rents over the years, they will be sitting on a million-dollar asset that cash flows thousands of dollars per month at the cost of a measly $15k or so out-of-pocket when they were 20-something.

    I can’t think of any better way for young people with limited resources to prepare for their future so early on in life with so little cash out-of-pocket.

    • Hell of a freaking plan.I’m still shocked at only having to put 3.5% down. I may need to see if there are any fourplex units available near me.

  11. Man there is soooooo much I would do differently in my 20’s, lol! The number one thing I would do would be to not take out more student loan money then I needed. I thought it was cool because everyone else was doing, man stupidest thing I have ever done!