7 Insightful Financial Tips For Young Adults

7 Insightful Financial Tips For Young Adults

Oh, the things I would change if I could be 18 years old all over again! The first thing that comes to mind is that I would’ve not worn colored jeans and flannel, but financially speaking, I would’ve done things a bit differently.

Over the years, I have made some good decisions, but I have also made several bad ones. This list is geared for people in their late teen’s or early 20’s. It will not apply to folks older than the 30’s. Here are 7 financial tips for young adults.

Choose A Career That Is In High Demand And That You “Love”

I put love into quotations because realistically its difficult to find a job that you will love AND that pays well. That’s not to say there aren’t jobs that you will love, but is that job in high demand? Will you have a job when you graduate? Is that job at risk of being obsolete in 10 years? My wife and I are both in the healthcare field which is currently in high demand and has one of the highest growth potentials of any other field.

Assess Whether College Is Right For You

If you are an entrepreneur, maybe college may not be a good investment of your time and money. If you have good ideas, you may be able to provide something of value and build it without going to college (think Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, etc.).

Continue Learning

Turn off the television and pick up a book. I failed at this in my teens and through my 20’s. I never really read anything and preferred MTV over CNN. Over the last 3-4 years, I’ve made a stronger attempt at reading more and learning more about things that interest me.

Save Aggressively For Retirement

When I had a part-time job in college, I put money away in a Roth IRA. When I got my first full-time job out of college, I invested money in every retirement vehicle to the maximum (401ks & Roth IRAs). Investing early is one of the most important financial decisions you will make. This tip alone has out performed any other tip on our road to the 1 percent.

Invest Aggressively

Invest your money aggressively, then don’t follow the stock market. If you do, you will feel down when the market is down, and you will feel a false sense of security when the market is high. To avoid this, balance your accounts annually, but don’t track the market day-to-day. From a retirement standpoint, how the market looks today is nothing what it will look like 45 years from now when you’re 65 years old.

Live Within Your Means

Retirement, rent, food, basic clothes, transportation, and health insurance should be a priority. If you have money left over, then you can think about a cell phone, internet, cable, gym membership, etc.

Work Hard, Play Hard

We are all busy and can get caught up with all the responsibilities of life. This is a reminder to enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you follow the tips above, you should take some time to relax. Take a mini vacation. Spend some time with family. Invite some friends over for dinner. If you don’t, then everything you’re doing is pretty meaningless.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any additional advice for our younger readers?

About The Author

Edwin is a marketer, social media influencer and head writer here at I Am 1 Percent. He manages a large network of high quality finance blogs and social media accounts. You can connect with him via email here.


  1. Michelle

    These are all great tips! Living within your means is a great tip. No need to charge everything onto a credit card in order to afford things that you “think” you need.

  2. Noah

    I think it’s also important to note that when you continue to learn, it doesn’t have to be from a book. So many people look at me strange when I let them know I haven’t read more than 5 books in the last 10-12 years. However, I’ve learned more about finance, photography and software development (my profession) through blogs and audio books that most of my peers. While I like the idea of books, they take up space and rarely are read more than 1 or 2 times. They also require a person to “unitask”, which I can’t stand nowadays. I’d much rather be able to accomplish something like cleaning, exercising, or driving while absorbing the knowledge.

    1. iam1percent

      Good point..books aren’t the only way to learn. Travel and experiences are another way to learn…

  3. Noah

    The only thing you are missing is that a person should find a spouse who is financially like-minded. If you marry someone who loves to blow money, the other 7 tips are meaningless. If you can’t save fast enough because your spouse burns through money, you are ultimately destined to be ruined.

    1. Dollar D @ The Dollar Disciple

      I second this, whole-heartedly. Your choice of spouse can make or break your financial future. Plus, divorce is really expensive!

    2. ImpulseSave

      That is an excellent point! Relationships can cause a lot of financial hardships because there is so much emotion involved, it can become difficult to keep your head on straight. Figure out your financial priorities and your saving style. Find someone who has similar values, and even if they don’t agree 100%, you whould both be willing to compromise.

    3. iam1percent

      Good point! A spouse who is wreckless with finances prior to marriage will be wreckless after marriage.

  4. Liquid Independence

    I consider myself a young adult and I approve of all these tips (=^・^=) . Another one I would add is to be mindful of debt, especially the high interest rate ones like CCs.

  5. Leigh

    Great points! I am in my early 20s and I’m definitely nodding my head at all of these 🙂

    I think the hardest one for me to learn was the last one. I’ve always been good at saving, but completely terrible at spending. I would guilt myself over spending money so much. I now think that spending 50% of my monthly net pay is a good number. I’m not going looking for things to spend money on, but I’m trying to spend on the things that make me happy and go from there. I’m still saving about 50% of my monthly net pay, maxing out my 401(k) and Roth IRA, and saving 100% of my bonuses, but I’m having fun in the process!

    I actually ran some interesting numbers last year. If I keep investing 20% of my gross income for retirement over the next 10 years and marry someone who was doing so as well at the same income level, then we won’t need to invest all that much for retirement after that 10 year period. That’s why I say that my 20s are for investing for retirement! Compounding FTW!

    1. iam1percent

      Leigh, as always, thank you for your comment! I’m glad you realize how strong compounding interest can be. I’m 34 (almost 35) and compounding has done well for me over the past 10 years.

  6. Bryan

    Great points, all. I particularly agree with the one concerning college. I think the push to go to college for young people is too frequently overstated, particularly by their parents. Too many students attend college while blowing it off, which is simply throwing money away.

  7. PB

    With respect to college I think its not only important to assess if you should go/what you should major in, but WHERE you should go. Many colleges may have similar sticker prices, but drastically different actual costs of attendance. It is important to look at your financial aid package, and how the financial aid is being given. Are there grants and scholarships included, or is it unsubsidized loans?

    Also, I personally think you need to think about whether the particular school it worth the price tag. It may be worth it to pay a little more if you get into Harvard because of the brand. Similarly, if you have a specific major chosen and you get into the school that is considered to have the best program in the country for the major, it may be worth a little extra for the brand.

    1. iam1percent

      Very good point. I saw an article recently on Free Money Finance on the value of prestigious colleges, ie. Harvard. It seems like these may be a good deal now considering the spike in tuition of other private and public institutions.


  8. PK

    ‘Choose a career that is in high demand and that you “love”’ – Not for me since I’m already stuck in a career (heh, not that I’m complaining), but if your dreams and your wallet conflict which way would you suggest people lean?

    1. Noah

      I’d first make sure that you would have enough money to adequately support your family. Then if the choice is between a little more money and a job you hate vs a little less and a job you love, of course go for the job you love. Otherwise you will start to be dissatisfied with your life and probably end up spending lots more money on things that will bring up your mood, thus negating the income difference.

  9. Shilpan

    I’d like to add one more nugget – “Learn to budget”

    You may like this article I wrote for my daughters attending Berkeley and NYU this year.


  10. Shannon-ReadyForZero

    These are all fantastic tips – especially saving for retirement, investing, and living within your means. When you’re a young adult it’s too easy to think that you have all the time in the world which means none of these things top the priority list (which is why I, at 28, am just starting to realize I need to have a retirement account set up – yikes!). Any young adult would benefit greatly from not only reading this post, but taking it very seriously!

  11. Nick @ ayoungpro.com

    Great tips! I wish I could go back and implement these things earlier in my life as well. 🙂


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