Personal Finance Feb 09, 2021 07:00 AM EST

2021's Worst Money Mistakes You Can Make With Your Salary

By Erika Dee

Third Stimulus Checks: Are You Ready?
Third Stimulus Checks: Are You Ready? (Alexander Mils/Unsplash)

Life is not a race and wealth is never a true measure of success, but nobody can deny not being financial stable in your 20s through your 30s is a sign of something being wrong, especially if you have a job and earning a stable income.

If you are in your 20s or 30s, and you still live paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes cannot even make ends meet with your income, you might be guilty of any of the following 5 worst mistakes you can make in these productive years of yours. 

1. Not Having an Emergency Fund

If the pandemic is not enough waking call, then you are going to keep landing yourself in crazy situations wherein you do not have funds and your friends would start doubting your choices in life.

While it is nice to have money to spend anytime and anywhere, what is nicer is having enough money to spend on a time when you really need it - like if you need to go to the hospital and your salary has not come in yet, or you actually lost your job and you need around three months to get a new one. Imagine living those days with zero in your bank account.

You can get a few loans here and there, but not all people are willing to lend, especially if your credit is nothing to be proud of anyway. 

"Even a $1,000 cushion can take considerable stress off of your shoulders," says Danielle Harrison, a Missouri-based CFP at Harrison Financial Planning. 

2. Not Paying off Debts - Especially the Right Ones

Debts are part of life. This becomes truer as people age. Unless you were born with e mega trust fund enough to tide over your whole ife doing nothing, chances are you will incur some debt. College debt is of course part of it. 

Then there are also mortages, or debts you incur because you wanted some capital to open up a small business. All these are normal and even necessary, to live the life we can feel fulfilled in. However, debts are meant to be paid, and some debts needed to be paid off first than others.

The prime examples of debts that you should clear away first are mortgage obligations and due credit card bills. If possible, do not just pay off the minimum amount, because that is setting yourelf up to financial instability downt he road, as reported by CNBC

You should pay off the mortgage first as opposed to student debts because of the variations in their interest rates.

"I find that many individuals pay extra toward their mortgage with a rate of 3% instead of attacking their student or car loans that often have much higher interest rates," says Kelly Welch, a Pennsylvania-based CFP at Girard, a Univest Wealth division

READ MORE: Robindhood Allegedly Caused 20-Year-Old to Take His Own Life Over Wrong Lost Money

3. Not TRYING to Match Employee Contributions 

If your employer offers a 401(k) match program, you should try to match it. You should strive to contribute at least up to that point so you can take advantage of the full benefit. 

Employer-sponsored retirement savings accounts also offer tax advantages so you are starting early towards retirement bliss.  The last thing you want is to be dependent on the government or your kids once you reach those years, when you can save up now and live a carefree life by the time comes. Matching your employee contributions is a wise and easier way to do it.

"By not contributing, you're essentially leaving that free money on the table," Welch says. "Any little contribution helps and the earlier you get started in life, the better off you'll be."

4. Not Monitoring Your Credit Utilization

"It's as easy today as it's ever been for someone to fraudulently charge something on your accounts, open an account in your name or steal your identity," Schwalich says. If you do not monitor your credit record, these money-leeching schemes can drain you until its too late.  

The easiest and fastest way to catch any fraudulent activity in your name is to sign up for a credit monitoring service that can automatically alert you of anyone trying to use your money without your consent. While alerts can be sometimes pesky, they cannot be undermined. Adulting comes with a litle discomfort, after all. 

5. Letting What You Earn Dictate What You Spend

It cannot be denied that people who earn more, actually spend more. Some people were fine spending a particular amount and living quite happily until they started earning big. Instead of being happier because they have extra to spend and save with, they ended up even more with nothing because they changed their lifestyle to suit their earnings.

There is nothing wrong with living up. We work to live a certain way and who wants to deprive themselves while working to oblivion?  But if you are going to keep living up as you earn more, you'll realize that you'll end up even with far less than people who earn moderate, and even low income. That's going to taste bitter one day. 

20s and 30s are meant for you to be both productive and profitable. Do not let these costly mistakes turn your efforts into nothing.

READ MORE: Jeff Bezos Might Leave Washington Soon For $2 Billion Yearly Tax


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