My 25 key money tips for those in their 20's

Updated: Jan 23

If you are new to my blog, I have learnt a lot from making mistakes in my 20's and have had to work hard to correct them. From this experience here are my 25 key tips regarding money for those in their 20's (although these are still relevant at any age). I have divided these into subcategories to help with navigation and for if you wish to come back to these tips at any time.

  • Cut Costs

  • Invest

  • Jobs

  • Pension

  • Property

  • Savings

  • Shopping

  • Miscellaneous

  • Travel


Cut costs


1. Reduce your direct debits and monthly subscriptions.

There is nothing more demoralising than being paid and then seeing most of your money leave your bank account just a few days later. This is the reality for many - shackled by expensive direct debits and subscriptions. Yes, certain bills are unavoidable, but if you can afford to pay for things such as your mobile outright, then I would recommend it.

Also, things like car insurance and your TV licence are cheaper if you pay annually rather than monthly.

2. Cycle to work and cancel your gym membership.

Paying for the Gym but never going is such an easy trap to fall into we have all done it at some point in our lives. Cancelling your gym membership feels like you’re giving up on exercise, and it’s nice to know you can go if ever you get the burning desire to work out but if you do this right it can mean you exercise and save more which I think we will all agree is a win-win!


If you can consider walking to work or university which is 100% free. If not could you cycle?


Even if you need to commute getting off the bus or train a stop or two earlier every day can save you money with a cheaper ticket and mean you have no choice but to exercise every day improving your mental and physical health.


Invest


Note before you do any investing make sure you have an emergency fund!


3. Invest a portion of your savings in the stock market

Investing in stocks is not without risk and investments shouldn’t be made with a view to making a return over the short-term.


Investing sometimes feels out of reach to all but the super-rich or super maths savvy but this is not true. Basic longterm financial investing is becoming more accessible and App-based every day.


I suggest investing some of your savings as historically the return rate of a well-managed portfolio overtime is 10% this is much higher than all savings accounts available.


For less risky investments do not target particular companies such as McDonalds but focus on ETF's. ETF's (Exchange-traded funds) unlike a stock, which focuses on one company, tracks an index, a commodity, bonds, or a basket of securities. I personally invest in ETF's that follow the market as a whole such as Vanguard FTSE 100 ETF which is made up of stocks from FTSE 100 companies. This allows a diverse portfolio with only one stock.


For my investing, I used Trading 212. I find the platform simple to use and easy to understand. If you also wish to give Trading 212 a try Create a Trading 212 Invest account using this link www.trading212.com/invite/Ffp1r2pD and we both get a free share worth up to £⁠100!


Jobs


4. Have a “side hustle” / multiple income streams.

Having a single source of income means you’re at risk if ever that source dries up e.g. you lose your job. This is why having multiple income streams is such a great idea. My “side hustles” are this blog and I also make craft items to order. It doesn’t generate an astronomical amount of money but I can do it from the comfort of my own home, whenever I have some spare time.


Many young and successful business people started their multimillion-pound empires as a side hustle during university so you never know where doing something you love could lead you.


5. Stay in a job 2+ years for better job security thanks to employee rights.

Did you know that if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of being dismissed by your employer, you aren’t able to claim unfair dismissal unless you’ve been employed by the organisation for at least 2 years? This is why you should be careful not to hop from one job to the next. The average millennial is in a role 2.8 years and as you can see this is just above this marker.


With this tip comes some caveats:

a) Don't stay in a job that is unpaying you or not valuing you as an employee

b) Know your rights and employment contract - I worked for three years with no employment contract so make sure you get one your first week

c) Don't stay in a job if it is effecting you mental or physical health.


6. Negotiate a pay rise.


This one isn’t easy. Nor is it applicable to every job sector. But if the company you work for is performing well (or has performed ok during COVID-19)and you feel a key contributor to the overall performance yet underpaid for the work you do then negotiating a pay rise might be a good move.

Asking your employer for more money can be uncomfortable but you may be able to get a good result if you prepare correctly. If you feel you are an asset to the organisation you work for and are happy with almost every aspect of your job except your salary, then going down this route makes sense. I would advise the following steps:

  • Start by asking yourself how much more you think you should be getting paid. Striking the balance between ambitious and realistic can be difficult so do your research and speak with friends.

  • Take into consideration who your manager is. Beyond their personality traits and the extent to which you get on with them, consider whether they would have the authority to grant your payrise without in turn having to speak to their own manager.

  • Play out the conversation in your head and put yourself in your manager’s shoes. Are you able to put forward a solid argument for why you feel you should be paid more?

  • Decide whether you are prepared to give your manager an ultimatum or not. To support this, it can be a very good idea to apply for jobs and go into the negotiation with a job offer in your back pocket.

Pension


Few people want to talk about, or even think about their pension. However, the data suggests we really need to change our mindset here and start saving for our retirement. I’ve included three tips on this topic below.


7. Contribute to a pension.

Only 53% of people are actively contributing to a pension. Whilst this has been improvement versus previous years (thanks to the auto-enrolment regulations introduced in 2012 and enforced since 2017), the fact that 47% of individuals of pension-contributing age aren’t paying in is worrying.


When we all get there the state pension of £175 per week is not enough to live off. This is why it’s important to not be short-sighted and prepare for the future. “I might be dead tomorrow” is not a good mindset. Instead, plan for a comfortable and enjoyable retirement.

The younger you are when you start making pension contributions, the better. This is thanks to the compounding effect of interest that you will earn on your pension savings over the years.


You do not always have to contribute to your employer's pension and can contribute to a private pension if you wish. MoneyBox is a great tool to help with this.


8. If employed (PAYE), leverage employer pension contributions to the max.


Did you know that your employer must, by law, match your pension contributions up to 3%? That’s why it makes so much sense to contribute a minimum of 3% to your pension.

Let’s look at an example of someone called Holly. Holly’s aged 25, earning £28k. Holly contributes 3% of her gross salary to his pension, which means he is putting in £840 a year (£168 of which is tax relief at 20%). Holly’s employer must match this payment meaning, in total, Holly is putting away £1,680 in a single year. Holly aims to retire at 66, and expects to earn around 5% interest on her pension savings each year. This means Holly's 2020 contribution will be worth £12,995 by the time she retires.


9. Consolidate pension pots 

Over the course of your career, you will most likely work for numerous different organisations, and accumulate a number of pension pots across different providers in the process. I would highly advise you consolidate your pension pots to avoid the risk of forgetting about one. This will also make managing your pension a lot easier.


Property


I am still working towards buying my first property but to miss it from this list would be silly of me.


10. Buy a property

Renting is Effectively paying someone else’s mortgage and is like throwing money down the drain. Due to a chronic shortage of homes in the UK, house prices only go up over the long-term. This is why buying a property (if you don’t already own your home) can be such a good idea! Repayment mortgages allow you to pay off your mortgage principal (the actual loaned amount) over a term that is comfortable for you (25-35 years being typical). Meanwhile, the value of your property is likely to increase each year.



11. First-time buyer? Leverage government schemes like Help to Buy and the Lifetime ISA

I myself are using the Help to Buy ISA but am a huge fan of the Lifetime ISA!


These accounts help you save for a deposit with the government topping up the amount saved by 25%. Who doesn't love free money. Just be sure to review the requirements and rules to check you are eligible and this is right for you.


The Help to Buy ISA and Help to Buy Scheme are different. Both can be used together and you should investigate the Help to Buy Scheme if you are looking to purchase a new build.



Save


12. Always have a rainy day (emergency) fund

As someone who has found themselves of being in the unfortunate position of being made redundant on a couple of occasions, I speak with experience when I say having an emergency fund is vital. Depending on what sector you work in, it can take a few months to find a new job. I would advise keeping an emergency fund that can tie you over for at least 3 months should you find yourself without a job.


If you are just starting your financial journey start with a £1000.00 emergency fund as a minimum. I have written a whole post on emergency funds here.

13. Use apps like Monzo, Chip or Plum to save consistently and passively

It can be difficult to get into the habit of putting money to one side. Banks like Monzo offer pots, purchase round-up and a useful salary sorter feature for this very purpose. But it can be far too easy and tempting to move the money back to your current account. That’s why I like apps like Chip that help me save without me having to do anything. Chip moves my money in a separate account and app which I rarely open, reducing the temptation to take money out.


Shop


14. Use cashback websites like Quidco

Cashback is a brilliant way to save. There are lots of sites that allow you to earn on purchases you were going to make anyway so make sure to secure this free cash.


Most website now have a browser extension that reminds you when you can save or earn cashback.


15. Switch supermarket to Aldi or Lidl

It is staggering how much cheaper their food is versus Tesco and the Co-op. Aldi offer a lot of their own brands that are imitations originals e.g. Jaffa Cakes, Mini Cheddars, etc. typically for around half the price! The quality is good and proves there is no need to be a snob when it comes to which supermarket you shop at!


16. Search for coupon codes

This one is pretty obvious and I imagine most people do this already. But it can take a while to find a valid coupon- the internet is full of expired and bogus voucher codes!


17. If no coupon decide to do something go with your spend

Use sites like Easy Fundraising when you can't find a coupon code or receive cashback. You can even select your favourite cause to ensure the money goes to something you believe in. It’s simple and free to use! Since 2005 Easy Fundraising helped thousands of good causes turn everyday shopping into free donations.


Miscellaneous


18. Learn some DIY

Not everyone feels confident doing DIY- I understand that. But it’s never too late to learn!

Learning simple DIY can save hundred on pounds on calling out tradespeople.


19. Sell your unused stuff

Ebay, Spok and Facebook market place are all great places to sell your unused items and make a little money.

It is amazing what people are after and how much you can make from selling the items you no longer use.


20. Airbnb your spare bedroom

Admittedly, I’ve not tried this one yet. I have, however, used Airbnb as a guest many times over, both in the UK and abroad. So I thought I would share my thoughts based on my experience as a guest.

As a guest, the main things I look for are price, good quality photos, and 5-star reviews. Beyond that, in my experience, good Airbnb hosts are good communicators and aren’t too overbearing. For example, if I’ve arrived late in the evening I don’t necessarily want to sit down for half an hour and discuss where the best local pubs and cafes are located!


21. Improve and protect your credit score

Keeping your credit score healthy is really important because you might not be able to get a mortgage or credit card without a good credit score. In short, your credit score reflects how reliable you’ve been in the past at paying your bills and repaying credit.


Missing a payment for anything from a mobile phone contract to a loan is likely to have a detrimental effect on your credit score.


There are a range of websites where you can check your credit score. If you discover your credit score isn’t “good” then you can build it back up over time. One method of doing this is applying for a credit card that accepts applicants with lower credit scores and ensuring you pay it back in full each month.


Finally, and as a side note, those who bank with Monzo will soon be able to see their credit score within their Monzo app too- which is pretty cool!


Travel

You’ve worked hard all year, so now it’s time to reward yourself with some time off. Whether you prefer two weeks by a beach, or a couple of days exploring new cities, there’s no denying that the cost of holidays can soon add up. So how do you keep costs down?


22. Do your research

My first tip to keeping costs down is to thoroughly research your destination. Is there good local transport, or will you have to pay for car hire? Are the nearby restaurants affordable? How much does a pint of beer cost? Understanding these factors will help you decide on a destination that is best for your budget, will help you estimate how much spending money you’ll need, and will reduce any costly surprises!


23. Don’t risk it- get travel insurance!

Before you book anything, make sure you have travel insurance. This may sound like an obvious tip, but not having a comprehensive insurance policy could cost you thousands if something were to go wrong.


Annual policies can be more economical, and reduce the chance of you forgetting to buy before your holiday! I was able to get a yearly policy for under £5! Also as I bought through compare the market I qualified for Meerket movie for a whole year saving money on meals out!


24. Check hotels across a variety of booking websites

When you’ve decided on a destination and have your insurance sorted, you then have the timely task of finding a suitable hotel. You may always book with the same holiday company, but it pays to compare prices across all sites. If you find a hotel or apartment that you like, chances are they will also be advertised on another holiday companies’ website. Look out for any special promotions, loyalty discounts, or added extras that can help you save a bit of cash. Check any cashback sites, and book through them to cut costs further.


When looking to book an apartment always check if it's on Air B and B I have found the exact same apartment for nearly half price!


25. Breakfast options

Choosing accommodation that has either breakfast included, or the option to cook your own food can be a huge cost saver. Even choosing a room that has a small fridge can reduce the amount of spending money you’ll need. Buying 6 beers from a local shop may cost half the price of going to a nearby bar.


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