As a recent 25-year-old, I can promise we don’t believe we know everything. Most everything? Maybe. But not everything.
Honestly, a lot of younger 20-somethings I’ve spoken with the last few years still have a lot to learn when it comes to money.
Because of that, I thought I’d create a list of 25 things everyone needs to know about money before they turn 25.
Why before age 25? The point is that the earlier you learn this stuff, the more success you’ll have with money throughout your life.
1. Credit cards will make you broke. Two words: stay away!
2. Car payments aren’t a way of life. You can pay for a nice used car with cash and avoid the average $500/month car payment.
3. Budgeting is your best friend. It’s simple: making a budget every month and sticking to it means you are going to win with money.
4. The Joneses are broke. Don’t try and keep up with the Joneses. They might look nice, but they’re in debt up to their eyeballs and one emergency away from financial disaster.
5. It’s okay to say no. If a friend asks you to go on a trip or out to dinner, and you don’t have the money, there’s nothing wrong with saying no. Your friends will understand. And if they don’t, you should find new friends!
6. Your parents will eventually get old. That means you’ll need to have “the conversation” with them about wills and estates before it’s too late.
7. You can be a student without a loan. Part-time jobs, scholarships, grants, more affordable schools—there are many ways to pay for college without debt.
8. Retirement matters as much now as it does 30 years from now. Start saving for retirement as early as you can and put compound interest to work for you. (Try our compound interest calculator that will do the calculations for you.)
9. Wealth isn’t evil. A lot of people these days like to criticize rich people, but wealth isn’t evil. The Bible never condemns money, only the “love of money.”
10. Giving is one of the best things you can do with money. The more you have, the more you can give away to bless others.
11. The tortoise beats the hare every time. When it comes to money, patience will always pay off. Save and pay cash for stuff instead of using debt to “buy” them instantly.
12. Your first job might not be your dream job. See #11. Learn, get experience, and build your career. The corner office might not come right away.
13. Your first house might not be your dream house. Remember, your parents took 20 years to get their house. Don’t expect that level of house right away.
14. You should only get one type of mortgage: a 15-year, fixed-rate. Your monthly payment should be no more than 25% of your take-home pay. Stay away from 30-year mortgages and ARMs no matter what!
15. Marriage is much more difficult when you disagree with your spouse about money. Money fights are going to happen, but it’s extremely important that you agree on the basics of money—like budgeting, no debt, and saving.
16. Be happy with what you have. One word: contentment.
17. You won’t get out of debt until you get mad. To get out of debt, you’ve got to get sick and tired of being in debt. If you sorta, kinda want to get out of debt, you’ll never make it.
18. Personal finance is 80% behavior and only 20% head knowledge. It’s all about behavior change. We all know if we’re being irresponsible with money. But, many times, we go ahead and make bad choices anyway. That’s got to change!
19. Get-rich-quick schemes are good for one thing: making sure you get broke quick. There’s no magic pill to get rich. It takes time and hard work.
20. Your parents weren’t perfect, but they probably knew more than you gave them credit for. The older you get, the smarter your parents get.
21. Never trust a payday lender. Never. Payday lenders are the worst. The worst! They’ll charge you 300% interest with a smile. Related: A Game You'll Never Win: The Payday Loan Trap
22. Don’t travel the world unless you can pay for it. And by “pay for it,” I mean don’t use credit!
23. It’s okay to have stuff. Just don’t let your stuff have you. Don’t mess up your priorities and let materialism get the best of you.
24. Your parents’ house is not a bed and breakfast. Move out! By the time you’re 25, you should be long gone from your parents’ house and out on your own. Sure, you might have transitional periods where you stay for a few weeks, but don’t become a boomerang kid.
25. Eating out every night is a really quick way to go broke. You can $10 yourself to the poorhouse if you aren’t careful. The occasional night out is fine, but don’t make it a habit, especially if you’re already in debt.
Avoid the traps and manage your money the right way with Financial Peace University.
What are some other things you should know by the time you turn 25?