10 Financial Commandments for Your 20s

The sooner you start making a financial plan for yourself, the brighter your future will be. “Building habits, especially in your twenties, is so important for long-term success,” says John Deyeso, a financial planner in New York City, who works with a lot of younger people (and is 37 years old himself).

1. Develop a marketable skill.

Think in terms of your career, not just a job. Because let’s face it: You’re probably not going to love your first job, and it won’t be your last job. But you should try to make the best of it. My first job consisted mostly of fetching documents for colleagues and doing data entry. Ho-hum. But I learned all I could. Sure, sometimes the lesson of the day was: “I never want to do this again.” But I also learned basic skills, such as the magic of Excel as well as proper office phone and e-mail etiquette, which are still extremely useful in my career.

Most importantly, I established a valuable skill (writing) and looked for and created opportunities to use it. I talked to my bosses about my writing, and they affirmed that I had a future in it. I wound up penning our press releases, editing an online column and writing anything that needed writing at our small company. Outside the office, I blogged and took on various freelance assignments—some for no money—to practice my craft and build my network.
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