A classThat should help at least a segment of the next generation. But for those whose high school days are past, let’s take a look at eight of the most important things to understand about money. These financial tips are designed to help you live your best financial life and take advantage of the fact that the younger you are, the more time your savings and investments have to grow. titled for Young Adults” usually isn’t part of a high school curriculum. This unfortunate lack leaves many young adults clueless about how to manage their money, apply for credit, and get or stay out of debt. States are beginning to remedy this shortcoming—as of 2020, 21 are requiring high school students to take a course in personal ,25 are requiring that they take an economics class.

  • Taking the time to learn a few critical financial rules can help you build a healthy financial future.
  • Learning to prepare your annual tax return yourself could save you money.
  • Start an emergency fund and pay into it every month, even if it is a small amount.
  • Saving for retirement is an integral part of any financial plan, and starting young gives you the most time to grow your nest egg. 

1. Learn Self-Control

If you’re lucky, your parents taught you this skill when you were a kid. If not, keep in mind that the sooner you learn the fine art of delaying gratification, the sooner you’ll find it easy to keep your personal finances in order. Although you can effortlessly buy an item on credit the minute you want it, it’s better to wait until you’ve actually saved up the money for the purchase. Do you really want to pay interest on a pair of jeans or a box of cereal? A debit card is equally handy and takes the money from your checking account at once, keeping you from racking up an interest-bearing balance.

If you make a habit of putting all your purchases on credit cards despite not being able to pay your bill in full at the end of the month, then you might still be paying for those items in 10 years. Credit cards are convenient, and paying them off on time helps you build a good credit score. And some offer appealing rewards. Except in rare emergencies, though, make sure to always pay your balance in full when the bill arrives. Also, don’t carry more cards than you can keep track of. This financial tip is crucial for creating a healthy credit history.

2. Control Your Financial Future

If you don’t learn to manage your money, then other people will find ways to mismanage it for you. Some of these people may be ill-intentioned, like unscrupulous, commission-based financial planners. Others may be well-meaning but may not know what they’re doing, like Grandma Betty, who really wants you to own your own house even though you can only afford one by taking on a risky adjustable-rate mortgage.

Instead of relying on others for advice, take charge and read a few basic books on personal. Once you’re armed with knowledge, don’t let anyone catch you off guard—whether it’s a significant other who slowly siphons off your bank account or friends who want you to go out and blow tons of money with them every weekend.

3. Know Where Your Money Goes

Once you’ve gone through a few personal books, you’ll realize how important it is to make sure that your expenses aren’t exceeding your income. The best way to do this is by budgeting. Once you see how the cost of your morning coffee adds up over the course of a month, you’ll realize that making small, manageable changes in your everyday expenses can have as big an impact on your financial situation as getting a raise.

In addition, keeping your recurring monthly expenses as low as possible can save you significant money over time. Even if you can swing an amenity-packed apartment now, picking something plainer could let you afford to own a condominium or house sooner than you otherwise would. 

4. Start an Emergency Fund

One of personal finance’s most-repeated mantras is “pay yourself first.” No matter how much you owe in student loans or credit card debt, and no matter how low your salary may seem, it’s wise to find some amount—any amount—of money in your budget to sock away in an emergency fund every month.

Having money in savings to use for emergencies can keep you out of trouble financially and help you sleep better at night. Also, if you get into the habit of saving money and treating it as a non-negotiable monthly expense, then pretty soon, you’ll have more than just emergency money saved up—you’ll have retirement money, vacation money, or even money for a down payment on a home.

5. Start Saving for Retirement

Just as your parents probably sent you off to kindergarten with high hopes of preparing you for success in a world that seemed eons away, you need to plan for your retirement well in advance. Because of the way compound interest works, the sooner you start saving, the less principal you’ll have to invest to end up with the amount that you need to retire.

Here’s an Investopedia example: You start investing in the market at $100 a month, averaging a positive return of 1% a month or 12% a year, compounded monthly over 40 years. Your friend, who is the same age, doesn’t begin investing until 30 years later and invests $1,000 a month for 10 years, also averaging 1% a month or 12% a year, compounded monthly. After 10 years, your friend will have saved up around $230,000. Your retirement account will be a bit over $1.17 million.