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8 Things I Wish I'd Known About Money In My Twenties

Everything will be OK.

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1. If it stresses you out to discuss money with friends, then be clear about it.

FOX/ New Girl

"I used to find it hard to cope when trainee lawyer friends (for example) would complain about their wages, when I was reviewing gigs in pubs for what would just about cover a drink at the bar afterwards. But everyone makes their choices, and just because a friend's grad salary is higher than yours, it doesn't mean that they don't earn it. Nor does it mean that their ambitions are worth more or less than yours.

"Accept that friends in different industries will make different salaries to you. And accept that their jobs are also stressful." – Ailbhe Malone

2. Your bills come first.

Flo Perry/BuzzFeed / Via instagram.com

"Always pay your bills, everything else comes after. When you need to push yourself to save, remember that you won't always make this amount of money, and that it won't always be like this. Work hard and be sensible. Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does make things a hell of a lot easier. Expensive sunglasses are useless, you'll scratch them and lose them anyway. Spend the majority of your money on experiences, not things." – Cate Sevilla

3. And check your bills when you get them!


"I moved into a new flat, set up my electricity account, and thought I had arranged a direct debit for the payments. So when a bill came I just ignored it, as I thought it was being taken care of. Turns out I didn't set up a direct debit, and so it wasn't until I got a letter marked URGENT about 18 months later that I sat up and took notice. It said my electricity provider was about to cut me off, and that they were referring me to a debt collector. One phone call thankfully sorted it all out, but I dodged a very close bullet." – Chris Applegate

4. When you finally get more money, make sure you know where it's going.

Instagram: @buzzfeeduk

"Here's what I wish I'd figured out earlier: When you get a pay rise, or a new job with better money, there's a difference between enjoying your newly inflated bank balance, and taking it for granted.

"If you don't start siphoning off at least some of the extra you get each month – into a savings account or even a holiday fund – you'll just get used to it. I never did this, and ended up spending a whole bunch of this spare money on stuff like a slightly fancier coffee in the morning, a few more rounds in the pub on Friday night, and who knows what else because tbh I wasn't keeping track. If I'd put in a bit of thought and planning to my finances over the last few years, I probably I could have had an extra holiday or two or (if I'd really put my mind to it) be on my way to a house deposit by now.

"If fancy coffee is what makes you happy, by all means splurge on fancy coffee. But make sure it's an active decision, not just a habit that started because you didn't stop and think what you actually want to spend your money on." – Kelly Oakes

5. Shop around.

Paramount Pictures/ Clueless

"The biggest bit of money advice I learnt this year was that you don't have to stick with your bank. I'd been with the same bank since I was 18, and felt like I needed to stay with them just because I've been with them so long. But actually, I wasn't gaining anything from staying (banks tend to reward new customers rather than loyalty), and I wasn't happy with them.

"Sitting down for a few hours and looking into the pros and cons of different banks meant that a few days later, I'd gotten £100 for switching to a new bank, and had set up a regular saver with a 6% interest rate. A year on, and it's still the best financial decision I've ever made." – Emma Cooke

6. Start a pension while you can.

Instagram: @buzzfeeduk

"One thing I probably regret not doing sooner was starting a pension – I only started one in my early thirties. Even contributing a small amount every month adds up, especially if you have an employer who matches your contributions – you're giving your future self free money. The earlier you start, the more your investment has time to grow. Take an afternoon to read up (the Pensions Advisory Service is a good place to start) and ask your employer's HR department what options you have. – Chris Applegate

7. Don't assume you're failing because you can only see other people winning.

BuzzFeed / Via Instagram: @buzzfeeduk

"When I first started out as a journalist, I was always amazed at how well everyone else was doing. On Twitter people who seemed like my peers would announce their new cover story, or their MacBook upgrade, while I speedily wrote album reviews, adding up the £25 fees one by one, and babysitting to fill the gaps. At one point I even swiped the spare fancy loo roll from a big album-launch party (sorry, Sony). It was only later that I realised that most people had a side job – either corporate copywriting, or working in a bar. There was no need to panic about how I was doing financially against everyone else." – Ailbhe Malone

8. Everything will be OK.


"I wish that somebody had told me everything would be OK. I spent much of my twenties spiralling down into a pit of debt that only got deeper as "it's worth taking the low pay for the opportunity and experience" jobs came my way.

"As friends climbed the career ladder and talked of their mortgage saving plans, or their "fuck it, I'm going to travel for a bit" plans, it was hard to see that I'd ever do anything other than try and trick the bank into putting just-low-enough card payments through, or buying a Pret sandwich for a treat on payday.

"But things change. The opportunity and experience from those low-paid jobs will pay off eventually if you work hard enough – financially and otherwise – and who knows what other twists and turns might change your fortune.

"And when they do, you'd better be sensible and start thinking about saving something for a mortgage, or a pension, or other such things that won't seem half as boring when you need them. But remember, you can't take money with you when you die. It's not everything." – Laura Silver

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