In general, it’s hard to argue that any age is more pivotal than your twenties. Today millennials around the world are in their twenties and are leaving grad school, settling down in new cities, buying their first houses, changing jobs, getting engaged and married, and making numerous other critical decisions, all of which have will have an enormous impact on the remainder of their lives.
This isn’t meant to scare you; you shouldn’t be scared into indecision. But if you are currently in your twenties you should, as much as possible, be aware that the major decisions you are making today WILL have an impact on the rest of your life. If you are feeling down or overwhelmed by the enormity of some of the decisions that lie before you, fear not! You can be reassured by the fact that there are many millennials, millions in fact, currently facing the same type of trials and tribulations plaguing your life. Here are just a few of those famous rites of passage.
The Check Under the Seats Phase
This phase could also be called “financial insecurity.” When you move to a new place or out of your parent’s house for the first time there is certainly going to be a period of time—for some a few months and others over a year–where every dollar count. You may find yourself searching under your car seats for spare change. You won’t be the first! I’m not here to tell you these difficult moments should be savored, because they suck, they genuinely do. BUT that doesn’t mean they are not without lesson. And the lessons are 1) you should save when and where you can. 2) you should keep your financial nut small while you are in your twenties. Don’t rent or mortgage a house or car you can’t afford. Wait, save and buy it later. And 3) Use it as fuel to motivate you to work harder and, if necessary, find a better paying job while you are young and free enough to do things like make major moves and even career changes without the extra burden of, say, uproot your family.
The Embarrassing Car Phase
Ahh, the old clunker! We’ve all had them, they squeak when you brake and whine when they start and they start, by the way, only when they feel like it. If your fresh out of college and getting your first real paycheck it may be tempting to immediately sink a large portion of that check into buying a new car. Don’t do it! Do not go out of your price range. If you can’t afford to buy the car outright (and you probably can’t) and you need to make payments, here is a good rule of thumb: you should be able to put down between 15% to 20% of the down payment on the car and your monthly payments SHOULD NOT exceed 15% of your total monthly income.
The No Sleep Phase
During this post-college phase, you may be struggling to adapt your college sleep habits (or lack thereof) to the post-college world. Or, like many, you may simply pride yourself on being able to pull all-nighters and then show up to work the next day. If you fall into the latter category, you are making a mistake. Establishing concrete sleep habits that mesh well with your job are necessary part of becoming a functioning adult AND of accomplishing your dreams. Freedom is not about staying up later than you should, freedom is about choosing to go to bed a little earlier so you can wake up refreshed and ready to make choices and do the things you need to do to create a better, more fulfilling life for yourself.