10 Budgeting Mistakes to Steer Clear of in Your 20s

Your 20s are a time for fun and adventure, but they’re also when you start figuring out how to handle money. It’s easy to make mistakes with cash when you’re just starting out. Some of these slip-ups can cause big headaches later on. The good news is, knowing what to watch out for can save you a lot of trouble.

Let’s look at 10 budgeting mistakes that many people make in their 20s.

Not making a budget at all

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Many young people skip budgeting, thinking it’s too hard or boring. This can lead to overspending and not knowing where your money goes. A budget helps you track your income and expenses. It’s the first step to taking control of your finances.

Ignoring student loan debt

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It’s tempting to put off dealing with student loans. But ignoring them can lead to bigger debt and damage your credit score. Make a plan to pay them off, even if it’s just small amounts at first. Look into different repayment options that might work better for you.

Living beyond your means

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Trying to keep up with friends or social media can lead to overspending. It’s important to live within your income, not your desires. Focus on what you need, not what you want. Remember, most people’s lives aren’t as glamorous as they seem online.

Not saving for emergencies

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Life can throw unexpected expenses at you, like car repairs or medical bills. Without savings, you might end up in debt when surprises happen. Try to save at least a little bit from each paycheck. Even small amounts add up over time.

Relying too much on credit cards

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Credit cards can seem like free money, but they’re not. High interest rates can trap you in debt for years. Use credit cards carefully and try to pay the full balance each month. If you can’t pay in full, pay more than the minimum.

Not investing for the future

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Your 20s are a great time to start investing, even with small amounts. The earlier you start, the more time your money has to grow. Look into retirement accounts like 401(k)s or IRAs. Even if retirement seems far away, starting now can make a big difference.

Forgetting about taxes

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Many young people are surprised by their tax bill, especially if they’re self-employed. Set aside money for taxes throughout the year. Keep track of your income and possible deductions. Consider talking to a tax professional if you’re unsure.

Skipping health insurance

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Health insurance might seem expensive, but medical bills without it can be much worse. Look into all your options, including staying on your parents’ plan if possible. Don’t risk huge medical debts by going without coverage.

Not negotiating salary

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Many people in their 20s take the first salary offer they get. But negotiating can increase your income significantly over time. Research what others in your field make. Practice asking for what you’re worth. Remember, every raise affects your future earning potential.

Impulse spending

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It’s easy to buy things on a whim, especially with online shopping. But impulse purchases can quickly derail your budget. Try waiting a day or two before buying non-essential items. Ask yourself if you really need it or just want it in the moment.

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Victoria Omololu

Victoria Omololu is a fashionista exploring the world on a budget. She co-founded Only Earthlings in 2023 to show her travels in North America, Europe, Africa, and everywhere else. Victoria loves writing about travel tips, itineraries, packing guides, and taking photography from all over the world.

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