Every adult needs investments. It doesn’t have to be complicated, though. Invest today so you can live your best life tomorrow. Read More...

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You should start investing, like, yesterday. Any hesitation means you’re losing out on potential growth. You may have debt, you may be struggling to put food on the table, but what’s going to save you is going to be investing. Even if it’s just a little.

Do you even 401(k)?

If you’re lucky enough to have a job, and you’re even luckier to have a job that offers a 401(k) plan, you should take advantage of it. They’re not perfect, and some are better than others, but often your company offers you free money to take advantage of it.

This is part of your compensation, so you should do it. If you don’t, it’s like telling your boss to keep part of your paycheck because you don’t need it. So just get started with the 401(k) and worry about what to do with it later. We can help you with that, too, so check for the links below.

WealthSimple

If you don’t have a 401(k) plan, take matters into your own hands and open an IRA. WealthSimple is my favorite option because you don’t need to save up hundreds or thousands of dollars before you start. You can start right now with even $5. Or $100. Or $20. Whatever you might be able to spare — and really try to make it work.

Because the amount doesn’t matter, especially at first. It’s just about getting in the habit.

So open an account at WealthSimple today. There are no fees while your account is less than $5,000, and as you refer friends, you’ll eliminate fees as your account grows.

As you set up your account, all you need to do is choose the investing style that fits you, and WealthSimple worries about how your money is invested. It’s a good hands-off way to invest, so you can know that your money is invested the way you want. You can take your time to learn more about index funds and choosing investments on your own, and when you’re ready, move to a different platform. But you shouldn’t hold off until you know everything about investing. The most important factor is starting early, so that’s where WealthSimple comes into play.

Get handsy with Vanguard

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, Vanguard is the next best option. You do have to save up before starting with Vanguard, though. They have account minimums, and that might make it difficult for a lot of people. So start with WealthSimple, and once your account hits $5,000 (won’t that be a nice day?), move your account to Vanguard. I like Vanguard’s “Total Stock Market Index Fund.”

Whether you invest at WealthSimple or Vanguard, you should choose a Traditional IRA if you don’t have a 401(k) or a Roth IRA if you do. That’s going to allow your money to grow without any kind of tax consequences until you retire.

The key is to just invest your money and leave it alone for 10, 20, or 30 years — or more. That’s the first type of investing you want to tackle.

So let’s say you’re a little more financially secure and you’re ready for taking some more advanced investing steps. You are contributing to your 401(k), you have an IRA, so you’re saving for retirement, but you want investments that will help you grow your net worth without having to wait for retirement. Well, now let’s look at what you should do about that, but only if you can answer yes to these questions.

  • Are you taking full advantage of your 401(k) benefits? That means investing at least as much to get the full matching contribution if your job offers it.
  • Are you maximizing your IRA? The government says most people are allowed to contribute up to $5,500 each year.
  • Do you have a sufficient emergency fund or plan? What happens if you lose your job and can’t find a new one right away? Do you have savings that will cover your living expenses?
  • Is your debt under control? You’re making progress with paying off your debt if you have any. With student loans, you’re paying at least the maximum each month, and with credit cards, you’re paying them in full every month or aggressively paying down old debt.

If you qualify, you are free to invest some of your extra money every month. It’s better than spending it, anyway. Vanguard is another good choice. But don’t fall into the trap of picking stocks or trying to predict what the “market” is going to do. You can’t beat the market, not consistently. So even for regular, non-retirement accounts, the best choice is the something like Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index Fund, and the best place to get that is directly from Vanguard.

Don’t go to your local bank and ask about investments. They will sell you something you don’t need.

So don’t wait. Get started right now with WealthSimple or Vanguard.

Bonus alert! WealthSimple is offering $100 in bonuses to the first 100 new accounts from Adulting.tv readers and listeners! That’s $10,000 in bonuses in total just for our audience! You’ll receive $50 when you open the account and another $50 if you invest $100,000! Now, that’s a lot to invest. But we know that some in our audience might qualify. Regardless, get your $50 right away by opening an account at WealthSimple!

More Best Investing Accounts

If you’re not satisfied with WealthSimple or Vanguard, here are some more suggestions based on our experience at Adulting.tv.

  • Betterment. Betterment is another managed account like WealthSimple. It was one of the first automated managed investment accounts, and very popular with young investors who don’t want to choose their own funds, stocks, or bonds.
  • Fidelity. Like Vanguard, Fidelity is a discount brokerage that offers its own index funds as well as stock trading.
  • Ally Invest. Recently merged with TradeKing, Ally Invest is a discount brokerage that lets you choose your investments.
  • Capital One Investing. ShareBuilder is now Capital One Investing. They have low-cost trades, so this is a great option for dabbling with the occasional stock investing (but don’t go crazy making trades!).

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Can you invest in college? Get started now even with just a little money. Read More...

This is a paradox, or at least a frustrating fact.

The best time to invest is when you’re young. When you’re 18 and first able to begin investing in your own name, you’re in high school or college. When you’re in high school or college, education is your priority, and you probably don’t have a lot of income — if any.

So how do you invest for your future when you’re broke and still in school?

Also, you are (or should be) trying to avoid debt, so maybe you’re paying for college yourself by working. Unless you had the foresight and desire to keep the cost of your education as low as possible (by going to community colleges, matriculating part time, or receiving a full slate of grants or scholarships), you’re working, and likely putting any money you’re making towards paying for school.

Your environment is not conducive to saving for the future. Unless you’re receiving a lot of financial support, you’re probably struggling with money for the four (or more) years you’ll be in college.

But investing while you’re in college isn’t impossible.

An Adulting.tv reader wrote in to ask us how to invest while in college. And it’s a popular question because college students are told that investing early is the right thing to do, but have no idea where or how to start.

In college, if you’re even just thinking about financial priorities, you’re several steps ahead. Don’t worry about whether it’s better to start paying off debt early or save for the future through investing or savings accounts. There are a number of competing priorities for your money. Whether you tackle just one or spread whatever small amount of money you have across all the priorities, you’re going to end up in a better position than you would have otherwise.

Pay off debt, including deferred student loans. Avoid credit card debt. Build an emergency fund. Invest wisely. Overwhelmed yet?

No one expects you to do it all right away. But do something.

Don’t wait until after college to begin investing. The early bird catches the worm of wealth. If you wait four years while you’re earning that degree, it will take more money invested faster to make up for whatever gains you missed out on.

Be up front with anyone who’s helping you financially.

Communicating is an important piece of whatever strategy you want to use when it comes to anything with your money. If your parents are assisting you financially, whether paying for a portion or all of your education, providing you an allowance, letting you live at home for free or reduced rent, covering your health insurance, or anything else that might help you with money, keep them in the loop.

You may be eighteen or older, technically considered an adult, but if you depend on adultier adults, it’s only fair to discuss your financial plans with them.

They may provide some insight, they may decide to offer more assistance, or they may just be proud that you’re seriously thinking about your responsibilities and your future. They’ll definitely appreciate your honesty, candidness, and desire to take your responsibilities seriously.

Set aside a small amount of cash.

The more you can invest now, the bigger the money will grow. It comes down to the choices you make. Do you choose to spend every weekend partying and spending money on getting turnt? Or can you cut back some and set aside your booze money for later? Do you buy your textbooks full price, or can you locate used editions and pocket the difference?

Alcohol or no alcohol, every student spend some money on something that might not be necessary.

Cutting back is only one way to increase your flow. Bumping up your income has the same effect, and thanks to the numerous ways you can increase that income, you may have more flexibility than you would when reducing expenses.

You may be already spending all your time outside of your studies working to cover your tuition. But maybe you can add another couple of hours of work each week without affecting your education. Maybe you can ask for a pay increase. Perhaps you can multitask or squeeze another small job in there. I made some extra cash in college by teaching professors how to build websites. I also had a campus job at one of our libraries.

Maybe you have skills that people will pay for.

Just get started investing.

Even if you’re still adding to you emergency fund, paying your tuition bills, or paying off debt, you can set aside some of your cash for investing. These days, there’s virtually no minimum amount of money required to open a good investing account.

Recently, I opened an investment account at WealthSimple with no initial deposit, and I started sending $10 a week there. That’s less than the cost of one meal, and a great place and amount to start.

Don’t worry about picking stocks, studying companies, or thinking about how all the crazy things happening in the world affect the market or the economy. Just invest using a fund that tracks the stock market as a whole — an index fund — because it’s unlikely you’ll do better than that. Even professional money managers don’t, so don’t fall into any traps.

I’ll describe the investment you’ll need to choose.

See what resources your college has for you.

My college had — and still has — an investing club. Today, the club manages $1.7 million of the university’s endowment and offers resources for students who want to invest. The student organization claims to have a methodology that follows the gist of the best investing advice: track the entire stock market broadly and don’t chase down individual stocks. Trying to predict the movements of one company, whether it will succeed or not in the short-term, is basically gambling. It’s a bad idea.

But according to the financial reports the investing club has posted online, which aren’t recent, they would have done better had they just invested in a stock market index fund like the S&P 500 instead of choosing other investments.

So take a look at your college’s investing club. Get to know people for whom investing is a priority. But don’t necessarily follow every piece of advice you are sure they will bestow upon you. Put your money in a low-cost stock market index fund or ETF. That’s. It.

A service like WealthSimple will make that easy for you.

You might want to try these investing services while in college.

I’ve used many investing services, and WealthSimple is currently my top choice. It easily walks you through making the right choices, connecting your bank account, and setting up automatic withdrawals. If automatic withdrawals scare you, it’s understandable. But any job you have — on campus or not — should be depositing your pay directly into your bank account. Forget check cashing services.

Automatic withdrawals are really amazing and one of the best ways to build wealth consistently. You can “set it and forget it.”

If your job pays you in cash for some reason, take that cash and open a bank account. Almost every bank offers free accounts for students.

Here are the best investing services to use.

  • WealthSimple. Again, my top choice. It’s amazing that I can send $10, or even less, once a week, and start building a nest egg. In 30 years, that $10 a week will become $37,000 thanks to the growth in the stock market. And assume you’ll increase your contribution as you earn more money. Compounding returns will make you a millionaire over time.
  • Betterment. Another popular low-cost, low-minimum investing service. WealthSimple, Betterment, and some other services are called robo-advisors. A financial advisory firm or investment advisors are normally people who help you make investing decisions — though watch out for some because they are also salespeople who care more about their bonuses than whether you make the best choices for your own money. But robo-advisors take the human element out, and let you provide answers to a survey to determine how much risk you’re willing to take and provide you with a low-cost strategy for managing your risk and getting the best return.
  • Vanguard. The above two options are good when you don’t have $1,000 ready to invest. They’re also “managed” investment services, so they make the decisions about which funds to invest in. With Vanguard you can do it yourself — and I find that to be my preferred method. You can choose which vanguard fund you want to invest in. For example, VTSMX is the symbol for Vanguard’s total stock market index fund, which is incredibly low-cost, and you never have to worry about it losing more money than the stock market entirely. So if you save $1,000 before you start investing, you can open an account at Vanguard.

Notice there aren’t a lot of options listed. To keep it simple, these are the only investment accounts I’d recommend. There’s no need to list 10 different investment accounts, because one of the above should suit every college student’s needs. Even yours.

What type of investment is best for college students?

There are investment accounts, investment types, and investments. The companies named above are investment accounts — or companies that offer investment accounts. Investment types are classifications that have to do with what the investment is for. And investments are the actual things — shares in companies, bonds, funds, etc. — that are held within those investment accounts.

If you are going to the Vanguard route, you will most likely be fine over the long term. Choose the Roth IRA investment type. Because this is a retirement account, it helps you be disciplined about your money. You won’t be as tempted to withdraw your money from the investment in order to buy something you don’t really need.

In return for holding onto your investment until retirement, you receive some tax benefits. There’s a yearly maximum (which may not be something you have to worry about while in college), but all of your investments grow tax-free until you reach retirement age and withdraw your funds. Otherwise, every year your index fund does well, you would have to pay some additional taxes (or your refund from the IRS will be lower).

You can also choose a Roth IRA if you invest with the WealthSimple or Betterment robo-advisors.

In other investment types, those that aren’t IRAs, you do have to pay attention to the tax bill. Mutual funds and stocks generate income, and all income is taxed by the government. As a student, you may wish to avoid or put off generating taxable income when you don’t have to, and that’s the benefit of a Roth IRA.

What investments are best for college students?

Stocks are simply the best investments for the long-term. Yes, even better than “real estate.” Just smile and nod when your roommate won’t shut up about his uncle who invests in real estate and real estate will never lose value and real estate is the only way to get rich.

Long-term is the best strategy to consider as a college student because it is the first priority for investments. And over the long-term, stocks perform the best. But you have to leave them alone and invest in a wide variety of stocks that reflect the entire market. The best way to do that is through the low-cost index mutual fund described above.

End of story. Period. Full stop.

What about the 401(k) while in college?

This might be surprising, but you can contribute to a 401(k) while you’re in college. 401(k) and 403(b) plans are retirement accounts that are offered by employers. If you’re working full time while going to school, see if your company offers a 401(k). Even if you’re working only part-time, have a seasonable job, or are an intern, you may have the option as well.

While investment options in 401(k)s aren’t always as good as what you might find at Vanguard for your Roth IRA, one priceless piece of the 401(k) is matched contributions. For example, your company might say that they’ll match everything you contribute to your 401(k), dollar for dollar. There is no better investment than doubling your money immediately. So you should definitely go for it.

Look for the investment within the 401(k) that is closest to an index mutual fund. Sometimes it’s the default choice, but sometimes it’s hidden.

One thing to watch out for is a vesting period. Some companies require that you stay employed for a certain amount of time before some of that matching money officially becomes “yours.” The matching contributions might not vest for a year, or might vest gradually over the course of a few years. You’ll still get the money you invested in the 401(k) to keep with you forever, but your company’s contributions might never materialize.

Also, your investments made in a 401(k) are done on a “before-tax basis,” so a contribution reduces the amount of income on which you have to pay income tax. And like a Roth IRA, your investments grow without any need to pay tax on gains. You will pay taxes on everything, however, not just the gains, when you reach retirement and withdraw.

It’s hard to know if you’ll stay with a company over the course of a few years — but from my experience, I know I’ve stayed with companies longer than I would have expected. Not while in college, though.

But shouldn’t we be concerned about the coming recession?

I would not be surprised in the least if we go through another recession sometime soon. Do not let this stop you from investing. If you’re in college today, you most likely remember something about the latest recession, the worst of which was from 2007 to 2009. Your parents might even believe we never really recovered from that period of time. But for the most part, the country recovered and prospered for a few years.

That won’t stop the next recession. Chances are, your investments will lose some value. That’s why you stay invested in a stock market index fund. It’s highly diversified, so you spread out the risk across hundreds of companies.

But when your investment loses value, as long as you’re focused on the future, you have the opportunity to invest more at a lower price. The only way the stock market has helped people grow wealth is by having these recessions. Investors who stay invested and take advantage of recessions as opportunities are the ones who see the most growth over a long period of time.

You only lose money when you sell your investments during a recession and you wait until the news tells you that the economy is great before investing again.

The bottom line: don’t panic when your investments lose value. If your other money habits are strong, like spending only what you can afford, building your marketable skills, knowledge, and employability (part of the reason you’re going to college — it’s not just to find a mate), and not making poor decisions, you’ll find ways to use a recession to your advantage.

3 investing tips for college students.

1. Start yesterday. You already failed at this one, but don’t give up. If you start today, tomorrow you will have succeeded with this very important suggestion. I was a big procrastinator in college, and maybe you are, too. I waited until the last minute to write papers and other assignments, study for exams, and perform research. Your future is hanging in the balance, and it’s so much harder to make up for lost time. Even a small investment today makes a huge difference in the future.

Starting as soon as possible will help you avoid these scenarios:

  • You’ll having to work harder to earn more money to catch up to how much you want to have to be able to retire or be financially independent.
  • You’ll have to continue working longer before you’re able to retire, or you may never be able to retire at all. That’s one of the biggest worries today’s college students have, especially when looking at the economy and society.
  • You will need to delay buying a house or starting a family. With this, many college students are convinced that they’ll never be able to accomplish either of these goals in a reasonable amount of time, anyway.
  • You will eventually experience losing a job without any kind of cushion. You won’t be able to handle your expenses while looking for a new job, so you will go (further?) into debt and the repercussions for yourself and whatever family you might have could be disastrous.
  • You’ll never surpass your parents in wealth and success and will also trail behind the progress of your friends.

If some of these potential outcomes scare you, they probably should. Getting control of your finances involves knowing your income and expenses intimately while also making the best investment choices. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it is achievable.

2. Ignore some of your college buddies. All you need to start is a diversified, broad stock market index fund or ETF, or something similar, whether you open an account at WealthSimple, Betterment, or Vanguard. For some reason, investing advice is something people give freely when they know very little. Make one correct bet on a stock, and suddenly they’re an expert and a genius.

In no other way has “trust the process” been better advice. This is the process you must trust. Buy a low-cost total stock market index fund whenever you can, repeatedly, over the long term, and don’t sell until the very end. If you maintain that process regardless of what’s going on around you, you weather all the economic storms. Eventually, you’ll need to sell — what’s the point in accumulating wealth if you’re never going to use it? But keep your long-term investing funds invested for the long term.

When you get to the point where you have enough invested that you no longer can work, you can shift your investments around from “growth” mode to “income generation” or “value” mode. But that’s the process later on — not while you’re still able to build wealth through saving and working like you are in college and in the many years following graduation.

3. Don’t let investing be your only financial goal. If you establish good financial habits during college, you’ll be much more prepared to invest more throughout your life and reach whatever financial goals you’re likely to have.

  • Track your finances so you always know where you stand.
  • Avoid debt, and pay off any student loans as quickly as possible.
  • Start building a savings account that will eventually become an emergency fund when you are no longer in school and have to support yourself fully.
  • Don’t neglect your bills and other obligations.
  • Use credit cards wisely by spending only what you can afford to pay for immediately.
  • Put faith in yourself and don’t rely too much on parents or employers to take care of you.

Did you start investing while in college? How did you find the money?

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You’re not a bad person for borrowing money to get a college degree. You may be smarter than some financial “experts” lead you to believe. Read More...

You finished your bachelor’s degree and you’re out in the real world. You’re feeling real pressure to find a good job along your career path. It’s those massive student loan bills. You dread opening them because they remind you of the four or more years you lived without a major concern about your finances.

Now your college education seems like a burden. What did your bachelor’s degree get you, anyway? You’re 22 and you don’t have a job yet. Or you’re 30 and you’re still not sure if you’re on the “right” path.

If you haven’t been ignoring the reality of your debt, with your head in the sand like I was for a few years after earning my bachelor’s degree, you’re fully aware that student loans — like all debt — reduce flexibility in your life. You can’t afford to delay your career. You can’t even afford to go out with your friends (but you probably will anyway).

And if it feels a little unfair that all you did was earn a college degree like your parents, it might be. The cost of a college education has grown much faster than income for most Americans.

While your parents could have afforded their education at a state college on their own by working through college, the economy doesn’t make that as easy today. At the same time, college students and millennials are told en masse by society (and maybe you’ve heard these a few times):

  • “You have no work ethic.” (What? I’m working harder than everyone I know just to survive!)
  • “You expect everything to be handed to you.” (NO. I just expect to be able to get by and be treated decently.)
  • “You want the best of what life has to offer without putting in the effort to achieve it.” (I’m more than willing put in the time and effort, but I’m not convinced that the system is set up for us to do more than chase a target that’s moving farther away faster than I can run.)

You’ve been set up to fail financially by the world while you were a teenager, and that same world does blame you unfairly. Well, we all have friends who embody the millennial stereotype — but not you, right?

Is college no longer worthwhile?

Financial experts are now making headlines by tearing apart the idea of higher education. Whether it’s due to the evolution of the curriculum over the years, or the lasting effect of the recent recession on the idea that the only worthwhile type of education is one that leads directly to a job that in high demand, loud voices are encouraging alternative paths.

When someone tells you striving to get the best education possible was a stupid mistake, and you should have gone to a trade school to learn a skill instead of getting a degree, don’t take it personally. And don’t feel bad. These are the two most important financial justifications for pursuing a college education:

But return on investment (ROI) isn’t the only benefit of a college degree.

Ignore the financial experts.

Here’s some more good news for those who are being told their degree is worthless.

If you grew up in a middle class environment, some of the opportunities colleges affords the world are privileges you all ready have. And financial experts take advantage of those who don’t recognize their own privilege, especially when it comes to talking about debt. Whenever the unemployment rate is high, we find more encouragement in the media of entrepreneurship as the singular path to a lucrative life, replacing of education.

You have probably heard at least one person tell you that education is overrated and the best path to success is starting a business. You don’t hear that most businesses fail and that a college education still plays a major role in financial aptitude, even for entrepreneurs.

  • A good educational foundation greatly improves someone’s ultimate entrepreneurship goals by enhancing the cognitive, business, and life skills that good entrepreneurs need.
  • Many of your anti-education role models had other types of assistance that you might not have, and the louder they talk about their success, the more they’re hiding about their privileges.

Sure, you should try to keep your cost of education low. Grants and scholarships are better than loans, of course. But now that you’re out of college, the goal is to manage the debt you do have, not allow the world make you feel guilty for prioritizing your future livelihood over buying a house immediately upon graduation.

So here’s what you can do.

Here’s the four-step plan to dealing with student loan debt.

1. Recognize that your debt does not make you a bad person, nor did you (necessarily) make a bad decision to pursue a college education. Yes, you may need to make some sacrifices now to manage your finances responsibly, but in most cases, the degree will be worth it.

That will be true even if you decide to change your career path, away from the focus of your degree! Any bachelor’s degree is better than no degree. If you didn’t screw around too much in the four-plus years it took you to pursue your undergrad education, and if you took a variety of courses and exposed your brain to a diverse array of ideas you wouldn’t have considered elsewhere, your education will never be worthless. It will continue to help you with whatever life you decide to live.

2. Get organized and pay attention. You can’t ignore your bills forever, so don’t even start ignoring. Tackle your responsibilities head on — and your student loan debt may be the first real responsibility you have in life for which there are consequences.

I ignored my bills for too long. Working at a low-paying nonprofit organization after college didn’t help. But I figured my life out and found a path that allowed me to totally eliminate all of my debt. This path wasn’t related to my college degree but I know that I succeeded thanks to my college experience.

3. Look at some of the options for helping you eliminate student loan debt. If you have federal student loans (and these are almost always better than private student loans), you can look into income-based repayment plans. If you’re just starting out in your career, you can lower your monthly payment to help you with cash flow.

You may qualify for loan deferment, so your payments are put on hold, and in some cases, you will not need to pay more interest while you wait for your deferment to end. If you don’t qualify for deferment, you may qualify for forbearance, which also gives you a grace period on your payments. But with a forbearance, you’ll still accrue more interest while you wait.

If you’re a teacher or you have a public service job, you may even qualify for the cancellation of some federal student loans. That’s not the only way the government is willing to help you. It is possible to get a tax credit for the student loan interest you pay.

I’m not going to suggest consolidating your loans, unless it’s with a federal consolidation at an interest rate that’s lower than what you have now. Now there are private companies willing to refinance your student loans, and there are some disadvantages; namely, you lose all the advantages for borrowers mentioned in this section.

And watch out; these private lenders pay financial “experts” bounties for signing up new borrowers through websites, and thus there are many more positive reviews on the internet than there would be otherwise. Still, you could end up saving some money — in exchange for a fee and limited flexibility — when you refinance with a private lender.

4. Pay it off consistently and regularly. Work out a plan to pay the student loans off well in advance of your schedule. Student loans will stick with you even if you need to declare bankruptcy (almost always), so do what you can to get rid of them as soon as possible.

And then celebrate! Because not only did you pay off your student loans, but you received a college education, and will most likely be better off in life than people who say you made a bad choice for getting a college education.

What about consolidating those student loans?

Getting a little technical, each year you borrowed money for college initiated a new loan. So you might have several different loans with different interest rates. I wrote above that I would only suggest consolidating this loans under certain circumstances.

The best option, if you have federal loans, is for a federal consolidation. But you may have private student loans, as will many students who have to borrow more and more to afford the education they’d like to pursue. You might want to consider using SoFi to consolidate. SoFi is a private lender that is focused on student loan consolidation. It takes less than two minutes to find out what interest rate you qualify for.

And if you do qualify, chances are good you can reduce your monthly payments. And if you’re struggling at the beginning of your career, allowing yourself some financial space to breathe may be worth the extra time it’ll take to pay off in the end. But you should carefully consider any important financial decision, think about the pros and cons, and put yourself in your future self’s shoes.

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Choose one of these best bank accounts to handle your finances like an adult. Read More...

If you don’t have a bank account yet, you should open one. (Continue reading for some suggestions.) Anyone who earns money from a job or any other source — even if there isn’t a lot of money to spare — should be using a checking account at the very least.

My bank tells me I’ve been a customer since the year I turned 13, so whether it was from an allowance, from taking care of my neighbor’s cat while they were on vacation, or from my first job in retail, I was at least trying to have a positive money attitude, inspired by my parents.

It’s possible to be successful without a bank account, but without one, you’ll have obstacles in today’s society. You can work at a job where you’re paid cash, or you can use check-cashing services at Walmart or storefronts. Prepaid debit cards can help you buy things in an increasingly cashless environment. But all these workarounds are expensive and limit your financial possibilities.

Bank accounts can be expensive, too, and many of these financial corporations will try to fleece you at any opportunity with overdraft fees, minimum balance requirements, maintenance fees, and ATM fees. The list of hidden fees seems to go on forever. Avoiding fees sometimes requires some attention, but when you can, checking and savings accounts are much better than “alternative banking products.”

You don’t need to go crazy. You can do everything you need with one checking account, but to make the most out of benefits banks have to offer, you’d need one savings account as well. That will help you earn interest on the money of yours you let the bank use — yes, when you deposit money in a bank account, you’re letting the bank use your money, so they should be giving you something in return (in addition to your ability to withdraw any amount of your money at any time).

I prefer the KISS strategy when it comes to bank accounts: Keep It Simple, Stupid. (No offense.)

Choose one of these best bank accounts to open.

Best Overall Bank Account for an Adult.

Fidelity Cash Management Account. This is the best example of the KISS method of banking. It’s a checking and a savings account in one, though the amount of interest you earn is minimal. But for a primary bank account, that’s just fine. Everything is free. Let me repeat: Everything is free. There’s no minimum balance. When you want to use an ATM, the owners will charge a fee, but Fidelity pays you to cover that fee.

You receive free checks to use. (You should learn how to use a checkbook and how to write checks if you don’t already know.) You can deposit any checks you receive using an app on your phone. Of course, you receive a debit card to access your money using an ATM or for purchases. Open a Fidelity Cash Management account.

Best Bank Account for an Adult Who Doesn’t Trust Banks.

Your local credit union. Not a fan of the financial industry? Credit unions don’t answer to Wall Street, so they’re not always trying to profit from their customers. Credit unions are owned by their members (who are also their customers), so it’s a system that makes the needs of the customers their priority.

Many community credit unions are open to anyone, but some have restricted membership. Navy Federal Credit Union is one of the best-reviewed credit unions out there, but you need to be affiliated with the military or the Department of Defense (or have an immediate family member who is) in order to join.

The Navy Federal Credit Union e-Checking is that organization’s best option taking all the facets of banking into account.

An independent credit union may also be the best option for Socially Conscious Adults. (Trump fans should head to CitiBank or Wells Fargo; the president owns stock in these companies.) Search for a credit union.

Best Bank Account for an Adult With Limited Mobility.

The branch that’s local to you. For a while in my adult life, I didn’t own a car. That really limited my ability to get around to a distant branch. This might apply to someone who lives in a walk-able city, too, like New York City.

Convenience is an important factor in choosing a bank account, sometimes more than a tiny bit of interest you might earn. So if you have a bank within a walking distance of 60 seconds, no one would ever judge you for choosing that bank’s free checking option over another bank.

Almost every bank account in existence today can be managed online, so there should be very few things you need to actually travel to a branch for. But sometimes, something comes up. But any online account should also be good for someone without access to transportation. Ally Bank is a strongly-reviewed online bank with a standard checking account. Simple is another interesting choice.

Best Bank Account for Adults Who Earn Interest.

Synchrony High Yield Savings. If you want just one bank account, choosing a checking account like one of the above. If you’re ready to have both a checking account and a savings account, and you’re moderately good at managing your money, a high yield savings account is a good choice for a second bank account.

And in recent years, Synchrony has offered one of the highest interest rates around. As of right now, that’s 1.05% APY (annual percentage yield). What does that mean? If you deposit $1,000 on day one and do nothing else, on day 366, your balance will be $1,010.50.

Not a huge increase, but it’s better than ending up with less. And we’ve been at a low point in interest rates. They will rise in the future — we just don’t know when. Open a Synchrony High Yield Savings account.

Best Bank Account for Adult Entrepreneurs.

Citizens Bank Clearly Better Business Checking. It’s important to separate your business finances from your personal life. If you develop a business, or you start earning money from your hobby in a serious way, you’ll want a business checking account. Make your business official with the state and federal governments, then open this account.

There are no maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirement, so it’s perfect for your side hustle. The bank offers 200 free check transactions, which should be sufficient for most small businesses. Open a Clearly Better Business Checking account.

If you have a bank account, which account do you have?

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Does the thought of investing scare you because you need a lot of money to get started?

That’s one of the biggest reasons people are missing out on the best way to build wealth over the course of their lives. It’s hard to just take that first step when you’re also concerned about feeding yourself or your family, covering your rent or mortgage, and affording every other necessity in life.

But you don’t need a lot of money to start investing. For example, $10 a week can turn into $75,000 if you give it some time. Here are a few ways to make that happen for you.

WealthSimple. WealthSimple arrived in the United States after its success in Canada, and its strength is its cost. When you’re starting out with investing, you don’t want fees digging into into your profits.

There’s no charge to transfer money from a bank account into your WealthSimple account. I started out with a $10 weekly investment, but you could start with $5 a month if you want, or if that’s all you can afford right now.

And there’s a special deal right now. If you open an account, you will receive a $50 bonus. Open an account today and get that $50.

When you sign up, you fill out a short questionnaire to determine how your money should be invested with a mix of exchange-traded funds — one of the most frugal ways to invest in stocks and bonds. You can accept their suggestions — and if you’re new to investing, that’s what we would suggest you do — or change them to suit your tastes if you have a little more experience with investing.

If your account stays under $5,000, you will not be charged any fee for the first year. Above or after that, the management fee is a small 0.5% — though, if you find yourself with more than $100,000 invested, they’ll reduce your fee to 0.4%. This is a great deal when it comes to investing, especially if you’re starting out with just a little bit of cash to invest.

LendingClub. If you’re open to a different kind of approach to investing, take a look at LendingClub. Rather than investing in stocks and bonds, you’re investing in loans. The returns are similar to stocks, and the risk is managed. The only drawback is that your investment is a little less liquid. That means if you need the money you’ve invested in an emergency situation, it might be hard to withdraw immediately. (That’s why it’s always best to have an emergency fund.)

LendingClub helps you pick out the best investments and gives you a good idea of what you can expect to return. You can use your investment to create an income stream. There’s a higher minimum investment of $1,000, but you can save up in a savings account until you are ready to start. After that, you can increase your investment with only $25.

Open an account with LendingClub today.

Ally Invest. Ally Invest is a discount brokerage with truly low prices. Yes, the $4.95 fee per trade will cut into your profits if you invest small amounts in stocks or ETFs. If you want to invest frequently, WealhSimple mentioned above might be a better option, though your investment selection is limited. On the other hand, Ally Invest really lets you take control of your investments. There’s less guidance, but more flexibility.

Ally Invest used to be known as TradeKing, which made its name as one of the most popular discount online brokerages.

Open an account with Ally Invest today.

There are three great options above for getting started with your investment portfolio. This is something every adult should have, and every adult should invest for their future, regardless of how difficult it might feel to let go of even $1 of cash today. Your future-you will thank your today-you if you just take one simple step forward today, even if it’s not a huge step. Thankfully, these resources are here to help you out.

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What is it like to be financially independent? Doug Nordman from The Military Guide shares his story. Read More...

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Show Notes

Harlan and Miranda talk to Doug Nordman from The Military Guide about his lifestyle of financial independence. What is it like to live as an adult without having to worry about money? Is this a dream for everyone? We’ll talk about how to make financial independence an attainable goal.

Watch the video above or listen to the audio podcast below.

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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If you can handle a credit card like an adult, you might as well maximize the benefits! These best credit cards offer bonuses and other perks. Read More...

Updated for January 2018! Handling your finances like an adult includes knowing how to deal with credit cards. We all make mistakes sometimes. For me, it was taking a cash advance from a credit card when I hit my personal rock bottom. I felt like I didn’t have any other choice.

But years later, I’ve turned the tables on the credit card industry and now use credit cards to earn cash back and collect points for free travel, which I do often.

Here are my picks for the best credit cards across the different types of credit card offers that are available today. Note: all credit card deals are only worthwhile if you pay your balance off in full each month, like a proper adult. If you have to pay interest or a late payment fee, forget about maximizing credit card offers. Focus on getting your finances in shape first.

Best credit card bonus (for the not-so-typical adult).

Chase Sapphire Reserve 50,000 Bonus Points. Unfortunately, Chase has ended its 100,000 bonus points offer that was available when applying from within a Chase branch. What Chase offers now is the reduced bonus point offer of 50,000 points, for which you can still apply online. That’s still pretty substantial. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card, not waived the first year, but you will receive a reimbursement of up to $300 for certain travel expenses like checked-bag fees.

The rest of the benefits may be worth the $150 difference between the reimbursement maximum and the fee. You’ll need to spend $4,000 on the card within the first three months to receive the bonus. Get the 50,000 bonus points and you’re straight fire.

Best cash back credit card offer (for adults who like money).

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express. The keys to a good cash back card are avoiding the annual fee, eliminating any hassle to retrieving the cash you earn, and finding a cash-back rate that’s above the average offer. 1% cash back is easy to find, but Blue Cash Everyday beats that with 3% cash back on groceries (limited), 2% at gas stations and certain department stores, and 1% on everything else.

There is currently a bonus offer, too. Apply now to earn $200 in cash back after spending $1,000 within the first three months.

Best travel rewards credit card offer (for adults who have places to be).

BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card. If you’re looking for a travel rewards credit card, you should expect to find features that make travel easy. The biggest benefit, especially for the world traveler, is having no foreign transaction fee. Bank of America’s offer makes that happen, and does not charge an annual fee, either.

You earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend, unlimited, and those points are redeemed for a statement credit that covers flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees. There’s no need to convert points to miles or points with a specific airline or hotel chain. Because you use the card normally to pay for your travel expenses, there are no black-out dates.

Right now, this card is offering 20,000 bonus points which can be used to book airfare or hotel stays without restrictions.

Best balance transfer credit card (for adults who need to simplify).

Bank AmeriCard. If there’s one thing you want from a credit card you wish to use to transfer a balance, it’s the lack of a fee. If there’s another thing you want, it’s a low interest rate so you can pay off that balance transfer without any extra costs. BankAmericard has the perfect offer. For the first 60 days, you can transfer balances from your other cards for free, and you’ll have 15 months to pay off that balance without paying a cent in interest (0% APR) as long as you pay at least the minimum due each month.

This is the perfect opportunity to consolidate your balances across several cards and create one manageable, monthly payment. But pay the balance in full within the 15-month period! As a bonus, your purchases during the first 60 days will also be treated to the same 0% APR for the first 15 months.

Best credit card offer for students (for adults who are trying to adult).

Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students. I got my first credit card in college. I signed up and got a free tee-shirt. You get more when you are approved for Citi’s card for college students, probably the credit card offer with the most chill. There’s 2,500 bonus points available for those who sign up, and you have to spend only $500 in the first three months to qualify.

The purpose of a student card is to help you build credit, so don’t expect too many frills besides the basic rewards and introductory 0% APR for 7 months.

Best small business credit card (for adults who think they’re important).

Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express. This is the standard, and if you’re building your business beyond yourself, this is a great choice. Watch out for the $175 annual fee (waived for the first year) with the AmEx Business Gold Rewards Card. But, there’s currently a 50,000 bonus points offer, requiring only $5,000 in purchases over the first three months.

This is a charge card, not a credit card, so you pay your bill in full every month.

Best credit card for building credit (for adults who are just starting to adult).

Discover it Secured Credit Card. Building credit can be difficult if you didn’t have certain advantages growing up, like parents who had their own solid credit and a desire to ensure you were starting your adult life with good credit. Without those benefits, creating a solid financial future for yourself and your family will have more obstacles.

Secured credit cards help establish credit, which allows you to qualify for better mortgage rates (or a mortgage at all) when the time comes, better interest rates for other loans, better prices on insurance, and even better apartments. While you’ll be approved for the Discover it Secured Credit Card without a credit history, this is more than just a basic card. You earn cash back on every purchase (limited) and receive your FICO credit score for free.

What’s in your wallet?

Tell us what kind of card (or cards) you have. And what’s the best feature or you? Cash back, travel rewards, or something else?

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From money to relationships and everything in between, here’s the best advice from a panel of expert adults. Read More...

I know you won’t follow every piece of advice you’re about to read. Some of this won’t have anything to do with you, anyway. But bear with me.

That’s because I and the rest of the Adulting.tv team asked hundreds of people — some of them adults and others… “adults” — what advice they’d give their younger self. Some answered with very specific advice about opportunities they had at the age of 21. Some offered tidbits of wisdom they gained from making mistakes. Most didn’t answer at all.

Don’t worry — even if you take some advice to heart, you’ll still make mistakes in life. Mistakes are the best way to learn about yourself and how you can grow as a person.

But if you have the opportunity to avoid a few, you might as well take it. So let these certified adult experts help you.

Something in this fantastic round-up of advice will apply to you, at any age.

“21 wasn’t that long ago for me but I would say this: Choose a place to live that is inexpensive and allows you to save. Spending too much in rent can really hurt your ability to pay off your student loans, invest, and even travel the way you want to in the future.” Kevin Matthews II

“Don’t be afraid to try new jobs and careers. Like your actual life, your working productive life is a very long period of time and you’ll have many opportunities to switch and try new things. Don’t be afraid to do so, especially when you’re early and have less to risk!” Jim Wang

“Take the time to explore your priorities and hobbies, but make sure you have some buffer in your account. I ran out of money in my early 20s and found myself scrambling and unfulfilled. There is a way to be YOLO yet at the same time be responsible with your spending. Think about money as buying you time and choices instead of cool things, which was what I was most concerned about when I first graduated college.” Sarah Li-Cain

“Don’t always look to see what others are doing with money or what the current trend says you should be doing. Figure out what works for you… This also applies to starting a family, your career and pretty much anything else.”

“Don’t listen to people telling you that starting a business is the ultimate thing to do. Not everyone is built for it mentally or emotionally and it takes more than passion or an interest to make it a success. It’s more than acceptable to be an employee of someone else and plenty of people have lived great lives that way.” Eric Nisall

“Alcohol and sugar are overrated. Try sobriety and protein for a couple weeks.” Doug Nordman

“21 was just a few years ago for me, but the best thing I did and therefore the best advice I have is to start paying off debt ASAP, especially if you are single and don’t have children. I wasn’t dating anyone then, so I lived at home with family, worked 2 jobs and debt snowballed like crazy to pay off as much as I could so that someday when I got married I would be in a little less debt. It really helped, because when I got married at 23 a lot of the financial pressure was off since I had paid off about $17,000 worth of debt on my own. Also– be careful what major you pick in college! I graduated with a degree that I can’t do anything with, that I picked solely because the classes were fun and interesting. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to go back to college for a second degree to actually get a decent job.” Bailey Kay Cummins

“Trust your gut. It will never steer you wrong with jobs (if you are getting a stomachache thinking about the promotion you feel like you have to take, you’ll probably quit 6 months later), with dating (if you feel leery about a guy, he’ll probably be the sort of guy who gets mad at you for being sad), with money (if it feels like a bad use of your money, it probably is). Don’t railroad over those gut feelings.” Emily Guy Birken

“At 21 years of age I was living in a dumpy apartment in a Philadelphia slum with a year-old baby. I had a permanent part-time job and no child support or government aid. As a result, I was so broke I did all our laundry (including the diapers) on a scrub-board. Here’s what I would tell my 21-year-old self. Tough times show us what we’re really made of and what we’re capable of accomplishing. Often, we later realize that what we perceived as misfortune was actually crucial to making us the people we have become. (And in fact, that’s happened.)” Donna Freedman

“At the start of your career, move into a cheap apartment that you hate (ideally with roommates). Why? You won’t want to spend any time there. That makes it easy to skip out on luxury utilities (tv, internet, etc) and expensive furniture. Lower expenses means more cash to put towards investments. You’ll also be able (and willing) to put in more hours at work, creating clear differentiation between you and your peer group. Hustling hard early on should produce a steeper compensation trajectory. Before you know it, you’ll be on a clear path to financial independence.” Eppie Vojt

“This fall you’re going to go through the Student Union at college. There will be a Citibank representative there soliciting students to apply for a credit card. Do not stop. Flip him both birds, yell, “F YOU!” at the top of your lungs and keep walking.” Travis Pizel

Start contributing to a Roth IRA and take advantage of all the tax benefits in retirement investing. Even if you can only afford $50 a month, those early contributions really add up over the years. Just one $50 investment can grow to $749 over 40 years on a 7% annual return. Now imagine you were able to make that $50 a month!”

“When you’re young and don’t pay much in taxes, you might not be getting such a benefit from the instant deductions of a 401k or a traditional IRA. This is when a Roth IRA makes the most sense. You don’t get an instant deduction but get to withdraw the money totally tax-free in retirement, that’s contributions and all earnings tax-free.” Joseph Hogue

“Find what makes you happy and then organize your life around that. Quit comparing yourself to others. Everyone moves at a different pace and has a different focus. What’s important is that you do what’s best for you. Not what’s best for your friends or others around you. Life is much more enjoyable when you do that.” Andrew Daniels

“I know you’ve spent the last 16 years of your life in school, but don’t stop learning now. Keep learning and mastering new skills whether they’re related to your work or not.” Julie Starnes Rains

“Don’t build a life that requires a financial partner. Make your own money and make sure you can support yourself if the shit hits the fan. It’s great to HAVE a financial partner, but it’s another thing to NEED one.” Morgan Marie Quinn

“My biggest revelation after wasting four years of college and working a dead end job was learning that the market doesn’t care about my passions (which were fickle anyway); the market rewarded professions that were IN DEMAND. So my job was to find a niche in the job market that married my skills and interests with jobs that were HIGHLY needed, and that small realization changed everything for me. I no longer felt guilty for “selling out” to make money, because by choosing a career that society valued it was a win-win for everyone.” Curtis Hearn

Negotiate everything! Your salary, purchases, and business deals. It’s a muscle that needs to be built and there is always an opportunity to build it.” Alanna Jackson Anthony

“Don’t underestimate yourself. You might not think you qualify for those scholarships, but you’d be wrong. You’ll be kicking yourself to find out later only five people applied for that $5,000 scholarship and you thought 1,000 people would apply! This goes for graduate school scholarships and TA positions. Just apply.” Melissa Hoffman

“Youth is time to experiment and have new experiences. Manage your money so you can do that. It’s a better investment than grad school for most people. Be bold. But always be able to support yourself.” Teresa Mears

“I’d tell my 21-year-old self to party less. I was a neo in my fraternity at the time and basically wasted a year in school partying. My priorities were not in order.” Jason Butler

“No one cares more about your finances, your career, or your health than you do. Learn about each and pay equal attention to each one so that you have a secure and balanced life for years to come. Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you. Life happens. Let it.” Amy Savage Blacklock

Exercise. Find a workout routine that makes you feel great and make movement part of your life every single day. I don’t care what you do, whether it’s running or yoga or lifting or walking for miles or playing rec league sports, just find something that gets you physically active most days. Physical exercise benefits your bod, but it’s also an investment in your mental and emotional well-being (and staying healthy = less in healthcare costs). Getting into a workout routine only gets harder as you get older, so start now while it’s easier to work it into your day so it becomes a part of your long-term lifestyle.” Kali Hawlk

“Take a deep breath and understand career success doesn’t happen overnight. Every day when you get to work, it is a new opportunity to impress your team and keep up the momentum. But don’t stop side hustling. Don’t be afraid to invest a few bucks in your projects and stay focused!” Eric Rosenberg

“(1) Work for experience, not income, because eventually the experience will command a far higher income. (2) Buy rental real estate instead of renting and begin as early as possible. Beg or borrow the down payment if necessary. As long as the property is positive cash flow and financed with a fully amortizing, fixed rate mortgage your financial security is just a question of time, and time is why you want to start as early as possible. Rental real estate provides inflation adjusting income you can never outlive, and there’s not many investments you can say that about.” Todd R. Tresidder

“Invest in defense industries. They seem to be doing better and better.” Mason Handke

“Jump on Bitcoin and Ford stocks. In other words, when you see a good financial deal, take time to learn enough to invest in it and do it quickly. Also, skip that whole finishing college thing. You guys know what you want to do; just get your certs and get out. The lost earning potential will eat you up later. Don’t let anyone else tell you what God wants from you. You’re smart enough to figure it out yourself. You’re going to have a lot of ‘I wish…’ moments down the road when you realize you’re letting someone else control your moral compass. Lastly, take that trip to Costa Rica. Just do it. Once you have kids and a real job, it’s going to be so much harder to do. The money’s there. Take the opportunity.” Lacey Keller Smith

Save up so that you can travel and see the world. Don’t worry about a new pair of pants or about going out every weekend. Explore this planet.” Martin Dasko

“Ironically, my 21-year-old self had more money to save and invest than my 37-year-old self. I would have told him to do that. But more than that, start a business. The barrier to entry for many businesses like insurance companies, online companies, etc. is so low, starting it young means great rewards while you’re still young instead of when you’re older like most people. But even more than THAT, be creatively productive with free time. Back then I had GOBS of free time and I did a fair amount of writing, but nothing else I did really created. I was focused mostly on entertainment. Nowadays I have all kinds of desires to continue to be creative, but no time. But if I had started something back then it would have been easier to *continue* working on my passion instead of trying to add time in my day for things I’m passionate about.” Greg Hamblin

“If you make $N per hour and can pay someone to clean your house (or other tasks) for $M per hour, and N>M, pay someone to clean your house while you work more. Now don’t forget to work the extra hours.” Brad Cole

“Open a Roth IRA.” Rhiannon Fox

“Don’t be so serious. Let things roll and have some fun. Explore more. Don’t be so afraid of life.” Joe Saul-Sehy

“Don’t get married!” Arantza Zabala

“You have another half-dozen major failures and reboots in front of you. Don’t take them so hard. Don’t bother getting complexes. Be more focused on what you can and can’t control and fight the one in spite of the other.” Rodney Staton

“Don’t be afraid. Although life can be scary, it is also worth it to face that fear. Don’t give up on your self. What most other people think if you doesn’t matter, especially those who dont like you. Don’t let those people decide your future. That have no investment in you! Work hard! Nothing is easy.” Laurie Clark-Jacobson

“If it is important, financially, it will still be there a week later. Be happy. Don’t take life too seriously.” Morgan Dayna McKinnon

“Do not look for someone else to make you feel good or happy. Try if you can to be secure in yourself. If you are looking, look for someone with same morals, values, and expectations. If your future is to be together your values will allow you to work together on any obstructions that come up. Values discussed before a close relationship, married or not, is key to enjoyment of one another.” Lenorah DeAngelis

“Jäger is NEVER a good idea. Neither is tequila. That petty thing or person you’re overly stressed about now? Let it go. It most likely won’t be there in one year and it doesn’t deserve your energy. See also: people who make you cry for stupid reasons. No one else’s opinion of you matters more than your own. Plan for all the things but don’t plan so much you can’t handle whatever is thrown at you. All those things people in their 30s and 40s tell you? It’s solid advice. Don’t dismiss it. They know their shit (or pretend like they do).” Jana Lynch

“Start early and always save a portion of your paycheck. Try to make it be the same each week.” George Morrison

“Figure out the monies. Know how much your life costs, how to minimize, save, and spend wisely. Never be without at least a month’s expenses in savings. Avoid student loans at all costs.” Lindsay Johnson Nuesca

“Find something you are really good at and make a business.” Kade Marquez

“Invest your money instead of wasting it on all the crap you’re about to buy. Oh yeah, and start a blog — the internet is not a fad.” Tom Drake

“Life is not going to turn out the way you think sweetie, but don’t worry, you are gonna make it and it’s gonna be GOOD.” Charlotte McLendon Baker

“When I spoke to a group of middle-schoolers earlier today I took them on a journey. I told them that I’ve been at my job for 10 years. And I showed them the importance of being picky with how they spend their money. I said 10 years ago, when I started my fancy pants engineering job I could have spent $5 per day on Starbucks coffee. Instead I bought Starbucks stock and now it has tripled in value! And I showed them different examples showing how those small choices made a huge impact! Crystal Hammond

“When you meet people always ask how you can help them achieve their goals, or how you can be helpful in general, and then help them. Never expect anything directly in return but forming those early bonds, and staying in touch will serve you well for your entire life.” Bobbi Rebell

“Get an IUD. ” Elyssa Jean Kirkham

“Make self development a habit. It will take you from good to great.” Felix A. Montelara

“Travel while you can! I didn’t have the travel bug back then. Once you get kids, the game changes. Both time and money are in very short supply. At 21, travel. David Leonhardt

“If you truly believe in your stance, hold firm. People will try to intimidate you, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Applies to just about every part of life.” Kay Bell

“So strange. My nonlinear, unplanned, dirt poor youth doesn’t look at all troubling to me. Maybe just… invest in Microsoft.” Dean Ferguson

“Never marry someone who makes you cry.” Sherri Bible

“Travel. Leave your bubble and visit somewhere where you don’t speak the language; it’s even better if you can live in another country for a while. When you come home, start planning the next trip. Don’t let having kids deter you from traveling; it involves a bit more planning, but they only make it better. Pay off your student loans ASAP then save; you really don’t need a lot of material items. Spend your money on experiences (see first paragraph) and save your money.” Leslie Smith

“No matter your culture, it is okay to be single in your 20s. Discover yourself rather than discovering others, as this will be the one opportunity you have to do so.” Brynne Conroy

“Research is the key to everything related to finances. From renting a place to live and the utility payments required when you move in, to car knowledge when you go shopping for a car. Building credit and how to do it right. Relationships? Be smart, don’t just jump in. Know what matters to you and make those things important in your relationships. Oh, and credit is IMPORTANT. Don’t fuck that up.” Nik Thurnbeck

“Plan well for your retirement. Put away more than you think you can. Stretch! The time sneaks up on you – enjoy yourself some now, enjoy yourself a LOT later – you’ll deserve it! Also, be as good as you can to others — don’t leave anything to regret (oh there will always be regrets — so try to keep them to a minimum) I really think that’s the most important piece of advice. Be kind, be good. Be honest. Especially with yourself. Please keep your promises — every one. If you don’t think you can keep it, don’t make it. Sounds hokey, huh? But its true. Live the very best life you possibly can every day. Respect nature. Look to nature for lessons on life. The more you look at animals, birds, and just nature around us, the more you can understand about human nature. Seek simple affirmations and actualization. The more actualized and complete you feel, the easier it is to be satisfied by the little things. Now to take my own advice – early to bed and early to rise – huh, I wish! Oh one more — Polonious – Act I Scene III – Hamlet: ‘Neither a borrower or a lender be.’ Oh boy, I really mean that one!” Shari Berman Landes

“Always be nice. And don’t sweat the small stuff.” Wendie Berman Biegel

“People will show you who they are.” Jenna Carpenter Smith

“Spend time alone. You don’t have to be in a relationship all the time, and certainly don’t judge your worth based on whether you’re single or in a relationship. Learn to love yourself first.” Chris Kilian

“Don’t pour yourself into a man who doesn’t care enough to do the same for you.” Magdalen Sheffield

“All these responsible things but also make sure you have fun and travel in your 20s. Don’t be so work focused because your 30s, if you have kids, could be very very very boring.” Christina Marie

“Never be afraid to be who you truly are. Do all the things!” Aaron Sheffield

“Don’t worry about how successful other people are. It’s not a contest, and if it were, it would be a marathon, not a sprint.” Francesca Pellegrino

“Go to Vanguard and take the spot at Mystique. You’re gonna change jobs anyway.” Sean McReady

“Life isn’t a race. There’s no rush to finish college in 4 years. It’s OK to be the last of your friends to get married, have kids, buy a house, have a career. Life is a journey to be enjoyed. You will accomplish your goals when the timing is right.” Elizabeth Buono

“Travel as much as you can and don’t be in a hurry to settle down.” Nakki A. Price

“Follow your instinct. It’s usually right. Don’t be afraid to say no.” Danielle Marone

Wait for a job that you will LOVE!! Travel a lot! And never settle!!” Lauri Kane

“First you need to know the most important investment to make is in yourself. Strengthen your weaknesses. Fortify your strengths. Sometimes maybe go out of your comfort zone. Find yourself at a job. It may pay the bills and take care of your family but something that you don’t hate going to do everyday. Start at Step 1. Investments, credit, all of that stuff comes later. If you can’t manage yourself you can’t manage the rest of that stuff. Be successful at managing yourself and that’s when those other options start opening up. That’s when you start considering them.” Colin R Gelles

“If it’s working, it’s working. A messy, backwards, or unconventional approach to something doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I’ve finally learned to accept the way I live, create, and give, and it doesn’t look like anyone else’s. All kinds of people are needed to make this world work, so ignore what you’ve heard in the management, productivity, and success books. If you are working at your best and comfortable with the process, that is what matters. I wish I wouldn’t have fought against convention for all these years and just accepted my way. What a waste of time!” Linsey Knerl

“Make — and especially keep — more social connections. Your friends can become your support network (emotional and business) as you all gain more experience and responsibility.” Virginia Rich Diaz

“Listen to yourself and learn to trust what you hear.” Alan Steinborn

“And carpe diem!” Sally Dikowitz

“Try to prepare for things like illness, accidents, etc. and the possibility you may not be able to work at some time, you never know!” Pamela A. Parker

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Once you’re on your own, responsible for yourself, there’s no rule that says you have to figure everything about money out for yourself. Maybe you didn’t get into any good habits when you were growing up; maybe your parents didn’t guide you to making the best money choices.

Today, you start moving on the better path. Being an adult with your money boils down to five important steps you must take.

1. Open an investing account.

Think you need a lot of money to invest? You don’t. Without investing, it’s going to be really difficult to make the dreams you have for your life come true. If you want to work every day into old age and worry about how you’re paying the bills, you can get by without investing. But if you want something better for yourself, you need to get started today.

Start with an account at Betterment. Open an account today with as little as $30. You can save up first if you need to, but make this a goal for the end of the month. Betterment will guide you through your choices and help you pick the best investment for you. There’s no need to learn everything about stocks and bonds first. There will be time for that later — but by investing as soon as possible, you don’t miss out on the best aspects of the stock market: the gains.

2. Open a high-yield savings account.

Here’s what goes in your savings account: any money you don’t invest and don’t need to use to pay bills for the next month. Don’t just walk into your bank and open an account. Look at this list of the best savings accounts. The highest interest is important because a bank is just a place to store your money. You might as well make it work the hardest it can for YOU.

The interest you earn in a savings account will compound, so this is a key to being able to smooth out the rough patches of life that you’re guaranteed to have.

3. Have the conversation.

Talking about money with a partner is stressful! Make it easier with this free cheat sheet. This index card will help you talk about money without feeling nervous or anxious. Maybe you’re afraid to admit something, or maybe you’re concerned about what your partner will think. You can get through this, and your relationship will be stronger for it. Download the free cheat sheet by entering your email address below.

4. Increase your income.

Nothing is more satisfying when you create something and are paid for it. But there are many ways to get paid. And even if you have a day job, you should be exploring all the different ways to make some money on the side. At the same time, you need to focus on getting raises and promotions early in your career, because that has a huge effect on your lifetime earnings.

Even while increasing your job income, consider taking steps to make more money elsewhere. The latest hot tip is becoming an Uber driver. If you like spending time in your car, get paid to drive people around. It beats selling your body parts.

5. Get in those good habits.

While you want to focus on your money and the progress you’re making, the more you can automate some of the more helpful tasks, the better off you’ll be. Use direct deposit so you don’t have to worry about depositing your pay check. Here are some ideas:

  • Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your investment account.
  • Use your bank to set up automatic online bill payment.
  • Configure your credit card to pay your bill in full every month.

Creating these habits gives you less to worry about, reduces your stress, and increases the money in your wallet when you need it.

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Financial stability is a requirement for successful adulting. Here’s how you achieve stability and recognize it when you are stable. Read More...


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If financial independence is the dream, financial stability is the first adult step along the path towards that vision.

On the final day of the year, fifteen years ago, I returned home from a weekend away to find my belongings on the lawn in front of the house I was renting. (I used the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to fact-check myself using my old, anonymous personal blog, my first time reading those entries in over a decade.)

My roommate thought I was moving out at the end of December, and when I wasn’t around, she moved two people into the room I had been occupying for several months. I had been planning to move out at the end of January, and the roommate knew this. But my name wasn’t on the lease, so perhaps she thought she could do whatever she wanted.

A later entry brought back the memory of a related event: I visited that apartment again ten days later to pick up a few remaining items, and the new occupants were moving out because that roommate committed some kind of check fraud. But I digress…

Being forced out of my living space with no notice on New Year’s Eve was the end of a particularly bad year. I lost a job, lost my car, and lost my girlfriend. I had moved to northern New Jersey for a job I no longer had. I was in my mid-twenties, but I wasn’t financially an adult. I survived by spending on credit cards, avoiding student loan bills, and accepting help from parents.

With the necessity of moving in with family as 2001 became 2002, I vowed to turn things around for myself.

I wasn’t necessarily aware of the idea of financial independence, but thankfully, that is how I can describe my situation today. In early 2002, I just wanted financial stability. And I had to figure out how to get there.

How I became financially stable.

After college, I chose a career somewhere between education and nonprofit. The organization I was working for was meant to be a stop-gap while looking for a teaching position, but I did enjoy it, and I didn’t put enough effort into moving forward. It cost me more to work as a nonprofit employee than I was earning — and I wasn’t even spending a significant amount of money.

1. I found a new job.

Instead of looking for my ideal career, my priority was earning money and getting back on my feet, taking control of my situation. Nothing is permanent. I could work on my loftier life goals while at least working somewhere during the day that would allow me the flexibility to plan for the future.

Without a car, I was limited to jobs that were accessible by walking or by traveling on the train. I turned to a technical temp agency. That’s how I earned money over breaks during college, and I knew I had many skills that would serve me well in corporate settings. I found something right away — an executive administrative assistant at a major financial firm.

This had no relation to my degree, but it was a job. And it paid 50 percent more than what I was earning at the nonprofit organization. Theoretically, I could even stay involved with the activity I was passionate about on weekends while working a “regular” job.

2. I designed a budget.

My dad helped me brainstorm a basic budget on the back of an envelope. That’s how I remember the situation. This budget had to take into account paying off a cash advance from my credit card, consumer spending on my credit card, and my student loans. I intended to move out and be less of a burden on family as soon as possible, so I budgeted for rent, as well. And savings for the future.

Partly because I wanted to stick to my budget and partly because I needed some self-reflection time to recover from bad choices, I also saved money in the first few months of my new job by staying in a fortress of solitude.

The budget was essential for setting myself up for financial stability.

3. I tracked every penny.

I used free software to meticulously track my spending, making sure I was staying within my budget and paying my bills on time.

You can only have a clear picture of where you’re going financially if you know where you are. It is incredibly easy today to get a full snapshot of your finances at any time thanks to technology. Apps communicate directly and securely with banks, so you all you need to do is check your phone to see where you stand. The app adds your bank balances and subtracts your debt, and the result is your financial net worth.

And beyond your net worth, you need to know how that changes over time, so you track your income and expenses, too. Today, I use Personal Capital and Quicken.

4. I started saving for the future.

It wasn’t enough to have a bank account whose balance was increasing every month. My new job offered a retirement plan with a matching contribution. Always say yes to a matching contribution. It’s free money.

How do you know when you’re financially stable?

To be considered financially stable — a true sign of adulting — you must meet these criteria.

  • You must be spending less than you’re earning. It doesn’t matter which side of the equation you try to improve, but it helps to focus on both your expenses and your income. You can only cut your expenses back so far — but income potential is unlimited. When you spend less than you earn, you have a surplus. The surplus allows you to have some control.
    • Living paycheck-to-paycheck — spending every penny you earn — means you have no surplus and you are not moving towards flexibility or control.
  • You don’t have to be debt-free, but you must be paying down your debt and not accumulating any more. If you’re able to make your minimum payments on your debt and then some, you’re in good shape.
  • You’re not relying on loans or gifts from family. This is the cornerstone of stability. You can make it on your own, just with your income and your expenses. It’s true that you may be in financial trouble if your income disappears, especially if you’re only beginning to establish savings, but for now, you are making it on your own.
  • You are building your future through savings and investment. Your nest egg might not be too big just yet, but it’s growing. You’re putting aside extra money to create an emergency fund and you have a systematic transfer to an investment account, preferably a low-cost index mutual fund.
  • Your friends support your goals. Don’t waste time around people who give you a hard time for being responsible. Often, when one starts acting more grown-up, the friends still wading through adolescence grow bitter. Or maybe you’re the last one to cross the threshold into actual adulthood.
    • People reach this point at different times in their lives. I wasn’t financially adulting until I was in my late twenties. Some start when they’re 40. And I’ve seen some sixteen-year-olds who are taking control of their future I never would have considered.
  • You’re moving forward steadily in your career. How you progress is often up to you, even when are faced with resistance was you’re trying to gain more responsibility, authority, and compensation at your job. You do know that often you have to accept more responsibilities before being granted more authority and increases in compensation. This type of success proceeds at different speeds, but you should always be aware of where you stand, and you make decisions that move you forward.
  • You have health insurance and you take care of yourself. Your health and well-being affect your ability to have a life of any sort in the future, so you watch your health and have an appropriate health insurance plan. You see a doctor once every one or two years, at least, if you’re otherwise healthy, and you see a dentist and dental hygienist every six months. If you need work, you get it done.
  • You pay your credit card balance in full every month. Credit cards can be great tools for people who are financially stable. They allow you to time-shift your spending, just like the DVR time-shifts The Walking Dead. They allow you to collect cash back and points that can be used for travel. But only if you avoid interest charges, late payments, and pay your balance in full every month.
    • This could be considered an “advanced technique,” and many people start messing with credit cards before they are prepared to handle the responsibilities. So watch out.

Financial independence is the next step after financial stability, but it could take a lifetime to achieve. Imagine if you no longer had to rely on your job. Imagine if you could live the life that you wanted to live, go where in the world that you wanted to go, and do anything that you wanted to do — without any concern about what the financial consequences would be.

That is financial independence. And you can’t get there without financial stability first.

Are you financially stable? If so, when did you finally achieve it?

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