20-something year olds are in a position of financial strength. With health, freedom and time on our side, now is the time for 20-somethings to get ahead. According to society, your 20’s are for “experimenting” and “having fun.” I’m not opposed to either concept. (In fact, I heartily endorse them.) But there’s a secret about your 20’s that no one is telling you: It’s the best time to get rich.
I’m not talking about getting rich with six figures salaries or by becoming the next start-up billionare, I’m talking about average (or slightly less than average) earners tweaking their expenses and savings to reap a lifetime of financial and emotional wealth. By saving now and exploiting the benefits of being young, you’ll end up with $100,000’s more than your friends.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
By investing $832 per month, starting at the age of 23 (the typical age college graduates join the workforce) you’ll have saved over $102,435.59 before your 31st birthday. If you get started a few years after 23, don’t fret. The number will still be infinitely higher than most.
What’s even better? The very conservative estimate of $102,435.59 does not account for promotions, raises or additional side hustles. It also doesn’t take into consideration the possibility of making $10,000 stretch even further by utilizing pre-tax retirement accounts.
Our six-figure estimate is simply for the bare minimum of saving $832/month or $10,000 per year. Assuming a growth rate of slightly less than 7%, no raises or extra income, you’ll have a net worth of $102,435.59 before you’re 31. For most 30-something year olds earning a typical salary, that number is almost unheard of. Luckily, you’re not typical. You’re striving for the freedom from money and are way ahead of the curve. In fact, you’ll probably have WAY more than that saved by the time your 30.
How do you save $10,000 a year on a 23-year old salary? It’s totally doable. I currently save $15,600 per year with a pre-tax salary of less than $50,000. You cut out unnecessary expenses, hack your finances, establish your priorities and go against societal norms. Your 20’s are the BEST time to do this.
1. Everyone Expects You to Be Poor
This is probably my favorite part about being 23. People expect me to be poor. Society paints a pretty bleak picture of 20-something year old finances. Instead of wallowing in the myth that your 20’s are filled with financial hardship, use people’s preconceived ideas to your advantage.
My friends and I have either recently graduated, are currently searching for jobs or are saving for something big (like a wedding). The expectation is that we don’t have money to blow. Because of this, there is no expectation that we are going to spend money when we see each other. In fact, there’s the opposite. We have dinners at home, drink before going out, and generally keep our activities cheap (or even free).
As for work, my co-workers are double my age. They see me as a young and just starting out (which is true, but maybe not in the way they assume), so they don’t expect me to buy expensive presents or be able to afford luxury lunches. The set up is perfect because it allows me utilize their image of 23 year olds to my advantage and save like crazy by opting out of office related expenses. Although you can adhere to this kind of lifestyle at any age, being in your 20’s makes it particularly easy because you don’t have to explain your frugal choices or be viewed as a “failure” for not spending cash.
2. Your Body is at Its Prime
Saving large sums of money often requires some fairly radical changes, like ditching your car and biking to work. Thanks to the fact that I am able-bodied and healthy, biking is more of an annoyance than anything else. I can climb massive hills on my bike and walk to grocery stores without breaking a sweat. Although I hope to maintain my health throughout my life, the truth is that I have no idea what the future holds. Many health setbacks are completely out of our control, and I’m thankful my body is currently healthy and strong. Even beyond that, I’m thankful it can work with me to save money.
3. Money has a Lifetime of Growth (And So Do Loans…)
Every penny you save in your 20’s has an entire lifetime of growth. Modern humans are expected to live well into their 80’s, and that means that any money you invest now has over 50 years of growth. If you want a lifetime of financial freedom and the ability to prioritize the people, places and things you care about, then it’s crucial to save now.
Luckily, the reverse is also true. Paying off your debt in your 20’s eliminates the evil presence of interest. By paying your student loans (or other debts) at a young age, you’ll save yourself $10,000’s. I’m saving nearly $5,000 by paying my loans off in one year ignoring the standard plan of paying them off in ten. $5,000 for paying now instead of later. It’s as simple (and as shocking) as that.
“20-somethings” is a broad term than includes almost ten years of life and growth. There is no one-size-fit all solution for 20-something year olds other than this: Save now and you’ll thank me later.
What do you think? Are your 20’s the best time to get “rich,” or am I crazy?