I remember thinking at 17 that people in their late 20s were in the prime of their life. They’re old enough that they’ve had time to finish college, save money, and build up their credit to buy nice houses and cars. They’re getting married and starting to have kids. You and your friends are getting promotions at these nice jobs that can be stressful, but (based on the all the movies) were pretty easy going for the most part. Getting to 23/24 and having your car insurance rates go down was supposed to be the half way mark to getting your life together. We’re supposed to have at least a general idea of life by 25 right?
I have never been more wrong about anything in my life. Even the people I know that are actually doing some of the things I mentioned still couldn’t tell you which way was up, where was down or hell even what day it is. The truth is we’re all just taking it one day at a time. Even the people that somehow managed to get into those fancy 3 hour lunch meeting at the finest restaurant in town jobs are still living with the day to day challenges that come from being a human being in your 20s in 2020! Most people I know with good credit only have it because their parents were super geniuses and put the kids names on certain credit cards (but didn’t let them know or use them) so they had perfect credit at 18.
But seriously, how many of our parents actually thought that far ahead? Most of us were born shortly after the hair teasing, head banging 80s. We can’t expect our parents to have been thinking clearly the first few years of the 90s after being exposed to the 80s hairspray trends. Not to mention our economy was very different so I’ll forgive them for overlooking the small detail that could have saved my financial well-being early on. No big deal…
The point is that no one has this figured out. When I told a family member, who is in her 40s, that I’m enrolling in school again so I can finally get my life together she laughed at me and said, “Well Sh*t, maybe I should enroll so I can too”. My mom has been renting since her divorce and is buying her first house with her name on it this year. These are not women who just sit around all day or are working minimum wage jobs. They are women who have raised families and who I have watched growing up and have deemed successful in my eyes. There is no age when certain things are supposed to happen. Not everyone has this successful career that they’ve had planned and worked for since they were 8. Slow down and quit trying to make things happen overnight. And for the love of everything that is good in this world DO NOT RUSH TO GET MARRIED. Take it from someone who was married and divorced by 23. Marriage is not happily ever after. It is hard work and in no way makes you a more stable adult.
In the end I didn’t expect you to sit through my ranting and ideas of the dos and don’ts of adulting if I wasn’t willing and ready to offer you some sort of advice. Adulting is freaking tough whether you’re 18 and rushing to be out on your own or you’re like me in your late 20s asking how to pay back taxes and confused as to why it isn’t showing up on the “where’s my refund tool” on the IRS website.
Here’s my advice to the young adults and those experiencing their mid-20s life crisis based on my own experiences. :
I AM NOT QUALIFIED TO GIVE FINANCIAL OR LEGAL ADVICE AND RECOMMEND SPEAKING WITH A SPECIALTIST ON ALL OF THESE MATTERS BEFORE MAKING ANY MAJOR FINANCIAL OR LIFE DECISIONS.
Federal Aid- Grants and scholarships can take A LOT of the crushing financial hardships off of going to college. It does take time to apply and keeping it up to date from year to year can be time consuming, but it really will get you the most out of these opportunities. Be sure not to sign up for too many classes and stay within you required completed/incomplete ratios to stay eligible. I was sick and hospitalized at the end of one of my semesters and was forced to withdraw from all of the classes I was taking at the time. Because I haven’t completed/passed a percentage of the overall classes I’ve “taken” I am no longer eligible for financial aid.
Loans- Yes, the dreaded word for many people in their 20s that have already experienced debt and do NOT like the feeling whatsoever. Although, if you’re in a position where you cannot afford to pay for classes all at once and upfront this might be a good option for you. If you are able to budget a monthly payment and take advantage of apps like ‘Cleo’ or ‘TrueBill’ to help keep you on schedule with payments they can be quite manageable. Look for loans that will be in forbearance while you are enrolled in classes. You can use this time to save money OR if you can start making larger payments month to month so you will be paying more on the bottom line instead of paying mostly interest from month to month.
Pay out of pocket- I am one of those mid-20s life crisis people that are terrified of loans and cried when I bought my first car because I was scared of my monthly car payment. I got my first student loan when I was coerced by my ex-husband into thinking it was a great idea to help us with bills while I was in school so we could work less. Looking back I now know that is lazy and a setup for failure. Loans should only be used when really needed and used responsibly. I am now working my rear-end off in a summer job at a restaurant to save money for the entire college year. This will be my second semester using this approach. I’m not able to take a full-time schedule of classes, but hey something is better than nothing when your goal is to earn a degree. Yes this will take more time. Yes this will take meticulous budgeting during the summer when you want to vacation and take time off of work. But if this is something you really want then you will make it work. Don’t let that small voice in the back of your head that is stressing out overwhelm you or make you lose focus of your goals. You got this.
Buying a car:
If you have a car that gets from point A to point B, is safe to drive, and doesn’t constantly break down then please listen to me when I say enjoy it. Even if its an early 90s ugly, blue, suzuki station wagon that cant even be identified on the internet anymore (his name was Obadiah) don’t waste your money on a new car until you need one. The new car will be worth the wait when the time is right. A premature car payment can really put a dent into starting a savings (I currently have $6 in savings) and add unnecessary stress when finances can get tough, like in a pandemic for example.
When the time does come shop around and I don’t just mean for cars. Shop around with different lenders. Find the monthly rate that will work for you! You want a good interest rate, length of loan, AND GAP INSURANCE! Secondly, take someone with you when you are car shopping who is a mechanic. I’m not talking about your cousin’s neighbor who changed her starter by watching videos on Youtube. Take a real certified mechanic. They will know what to look for and will catch any red flags that you might have not noticed.
Buying a house:
I have very strong opinions on this because I personally do not want to own a stationary home. I personally am looking into investing in a tiny home that can be moved at ease. I will most likely have a blog about this at some point where I will explain my reasonings in detail. For now I cannot give you advice on this because quite frankly I think its a trap.
I do not care how much money you make and as long as you are able to live a decent life without suffering (notice I did not say sacrificing) neither should you. A job is a lifetime decision. You shouldn’t make that decision based on the dollar amount you’re bringing home. Choose a career based on your interests and what you can positively put into society. The old saying that if you choose a job you like then you will never have to work a day in your life has a lot of truth in it. Yes with that blessing will come sacrifices. You will not be throwing one hundred dollar bills down like Michael Jordan supposedly does when he tips at restaurants, but you will have one thing many people, including myself, search for day in and day out and that is purpose. Believe me when I say that is one of the most valuable things a person can find.
Its all about the baby steps. When I divorced at 23 my credit was in the mid-somewhat high 300s. If you have ever seen a credit scale then you know that is bad bad bad bad BAD. Don’t freak out if that’s where you are at though. 3 years later and I’m close to hitting 600. I would probably already be passed that if I sucked down my fear, caved and got a secured credit card. But I second guess everything for at least a year before its an actual thing. At least when it comes to financial decisions that I deem unnecessary. And giving money to someone so they can “loan” me money that I have to pay back a second time just doesn’t sit well with me. Know your budget and plan ahead for at least 3 months when making purchases over 100. Pay everything on time and take advantage of apps like “Self” that help you save and build credit. Stay away from annual fees because lets be honest we all forget about them and all of a sudden your last $100 is gone because the fake Capital One bank (Capital Credit) doesn’t send out reminders for that type of thing. Pay off old debt. Even if your only paying $5 bucks a day DO IT. Don’t just hang up when the collection agencies are calling pick up the phone and negotiate! Lastly don’t fall victim to the quick fix scams. Fixing your credit takes time, patience and staying focused. But remember you got this.
Hopefully some of this can and will help you on your journey called life. It isn’t easy for anyone no matter what their life may look like on the outside. Just look at the Kardashian family for instance. All that money and they’re still dealing with human problems like family fights, relationship problems, raising kids, and not to mention mental health problems. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your situation looks like we are all in this together. Those people we envy when we are feeling down about ourselves are looking at someone else at some point in time, maybe even you, wishing they had something they’re missing. We should be kind to each other and especially to ourselves when trying to figure this whole life and adulting thing out. Always remember who you are, what it is you are seeking from life, and stay true to your heart. Anything is possible and we are capable of anything. We are not failures. We are not alone. We are precisely us.