Being financially secure enough to enjoy your life in retirement is the last thing on the minds of those under 30. After all, with the stress of all the expensive "firsts" that often come about during this period, like purchasing a car, buying a house and starting a family, it's hard to even think about saving for the future. However, working toward financial security need not be an exercise in self-deprivation, as many people assume. Attaining this goal even has some immediate benefits, as financial insecurity can become a serious source of stress - something 20-somethings have enough of already.
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So can you achieve long-term financial security without sacrificing your short-term goals? Read on for 10 tips on how to do just that.
1. Have Fun
Enjoy yourself while you are young - you will have plenty of time to be miserable when you are older. Living a successful, enjoyable and happy life is about achieving a proper balance between time with family and friends and between work and leisure time. Striking a proper balance between your life today and your future is also important. Financially, we can't live as if today was our last day. We have to decide between what we spend today versus what we spend in the future. Finding the correct balance is an important first step toward achieving financial security.
2. Recognize Your Most Important Financial Asset: Yourself
Your skills, knowledge and experience are the biggest asset you have. The value of your future earnings will dwarf any savings or investments you might have for most of your career. Your job and future career is the most important factor in achieving financial independence and security. For those just entering the work force, future career opportunities are as bright as they've ever been. The large number of retiring baby boomers is expected to create labor shortages. There will be room for advancement as companies scramble to fill the positions held by these aging baby boomers. Those who are in a position to take advantage of these opportunities will benefit the most.
Look at yourself as a financial asset. Investing in yourself will pay off in the future. Increase your value through hard work, continual pgrading of skills and knowledge, and making smart career choices. Efforts to improve your career can have a far bigger impact on your financial security than tightening your belt and trying to save more.
3. Become a Planner, Not a Saver
Research has shown that those who plan for the future end up with more wealth than those who do not. Successful people are goal oriented: they set goals and develop a plan to achieve them. For example, if you set a goal to pay off your student loans in two years, you'll have a better chance of achieving this goal than you would if you merely said you wanted to pay off your student loans, but failed to set a timetable.
Become a planner. Set goals and develop an action plan to reach them. Even the process of writing down some goals will help you to achieve them. Being goal oriented and following a plan means taking control of your life. It is an important step toward improving your financial independence and security.
4. Set Short-Term Goals - Long-Term Goals Will Take Care of Themselves
Life holds many uncertainties - and a lot can change between now and 30 years into the future. As such, the prospect of planning far into the future is a daunting task and in many ways, it's often an exercise in futility for young investors.
Rather than setting long-term goals, set a series of small short-term goals. These goals could be a simple as trying to pay off credit card debt or student loans in a matter of months. Maybe your goal is to contribute to your company's pension plan with a set salary reduction contribution each month. Setting short-term goals that will help you to advance in your career is important in helping you get ahead. Remember, these short-term goals should be measurable and precise. You can't win a race if there's no finish line.