Author Topic: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?  (Read 10725 times)

Rimu05

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How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« on: November 15, 2016, 01:19:09 PM »
Hi all,

As a noobie here in their early/somewhat mid 20s. I'm feeling like saving is hard work. Impatience has a lot to do with it. Nonetheless, I'm in a situation that quite a lot of people in their 20s are in. Student loans, car loan :(, not a high earner but not starving either.

I've been considering a second job to save more but I'm interested in how Mustachians here did in their 20s or are doing now.

Was it a struggle to pay of debt? Should I throw everything into debt and ignore investing?

My cost of living has been very low which has helped get myself together (lived with roommates for $400 rent).

So how did you survive or are you surviving?
« Last Edit: November 15, 2016, 02:51:48 PM by Rimu05 »

Heroes821

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2016, 01:38:47 PM »
We need way more information to help out, check out the case study sticky and post a full case study that being said one of the popular posts here talks about having and emergency fund, contributing upto your employer match in 401k, then pay down any debts > 7% first. 

That being said, YNAB might be worth a look, although I don't like directing people to paid services. Personal Capital and Mint can be useful for getting a track on where all your out going money is going first.

The power of compound interest is your prime vehicle for wealth at your age so take a deep breath, relax, and dig into this forum and you'll get ahead of the game and your peers in a few months.

MishMash

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2016, 01:40:35 PM »
Second, and third job until my 100k in student loans were paid off.  Lived cheap, grew veggies on the porch and was largely a vegetarian.  Drove my car into the ground (literally the engine fell apart) and only got rid of that one a couple years ago.  I pretty much didn't buy a thing that wasn't desperately needed, and even then, it probably came from a yardsale  It was not a fun couple of years but being debt free was literally the best feeling ever, no other financial mark has come close.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2016, 01:47:07 PM »
Realized when to call it on a career direction, and was willing to go back to school for something employable. It set my start back a couple years, but I'm happier, wealthier, and far more employable now.

Related: be willing to relocate. I didn't consider myself a city gal in the least, but that's where the right schooling and job market was. So we moved for a few years, and were able to buy in our Hometown when we came back.

Socialize smart. Try to find similarly minded frugal friends, or convert your friends to the cult ;) in little measures, lol. Drinking at home is always cheaper, haha.

Dated smart, married smart. This is an undervalued thing. Divorce is expensive, misery is expensive, have a spendthrift spouse sets you up for failure. Begin with the end in mind- know what you value and make sure anyone you're getting serious with values that too.

Uhh, those are what come to mind. Obviously I'm still in my 20s, but we're definitely NOT broke, so I would consider myself well out of my "broke 20s"

Cranky

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2016, 01:52:48 PM »
We were in grad school and working part time all through our 20's, and we were just broke. We didn't have any debt, though. We pretty much did without anything that wasn't essential (and some things that were.)

I have no desire to revisit those days, but they were educational and we collected a lot of good stories along the way.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2016, 01:56:03 PM »
Oh, and as far as my REALLY broke days:

if you're still a student, find your free food options. Pancake feed at the local church for finals? Pizza if you sit through a club meeting? Sign me up. I'll be a "joiner" if someone else brings the meal, lol. Bonus: a lot of time these events bring salad, cuz they try to be healthy, so it's a good way to get your veggies.

uhhh, I wouldn't necessarily advocate it, but a full size mattress topper fits really well in the back of a tahoe, and university gyms have showers.

FLBiker

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2016, 02:33:38 PM »
I lived overseas / was in grad school (w/ a stipend and tuition waiver) during my 20s.  I earned 20K per year teaching English in Taiwan and saved about half.  I earned 6K per year teaching English in China and saved about 2/3.  So even though I didn't make very much money, I was able to live comfortably and save.

BDWW

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2016, 03:01:35 PM »
I lived overseas / was in grad school (w/ a stipend and tuition waiver) during my 20s.  I earned 20K per year teaching English in Taiwan and saved about half.  I earned 6K per year teaching English in China and saved about 2/3.  So even though I didn't make very much money, I was able to live comfortably and save.

Mac and cheese and Counter-Strike. Video games are pretty cheap entertainment ($/hr). I was about $50K in debt when I graduated college, so I lived to with roommates and didn't buy anything that wasn't a necessity(eh, ok some beer, but that's a necessity right?). Truck broke down, so I walked everywhere for a year.

Cwadda

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2016, 03:12:26 PM »
Bought a used car cash, no car payments
Worked 2 jobs in college
Going out to the bar, always pregame first
Bring breakfast and lunch every single day to work, no exceptions
Meals out/takeout is very rare for me, maybe once or twice a month
Realized that no one should ever need more than 1 GB of data monthly for their iPhone. Changed plans to $30/month
I shop at thrift stores and find clothing (even with the original tags on) for 1/4 of the price

These are just some small things that come to mind.

stoaX

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2016, 03:19:31 PM »
Realized when to call it on a career direction, and was willing to go back to school for something employable. It set my start back a couple years, but I'm happier, wealthier, and far more employable now.

Related: be willing to relocate. I didn't consider myself a city gal in the least, but that's where the right schooling and job market was. So we moved for a few years, and were able to buy in our Hometown when we came back.

Socialize smart. Try to find similarly minded frugal friends, or convert your friends to the cult ;) in little measures, lol. Drinking at home is always cheaper, haha.

Dated smart, married smart. This is an undervalued thing. Divorce is expensive, misery is expensive, have a spendthrift spouse sets you up for failure. Begin with the end in mind- know what you value and make sure anyone you're getting serious with values that too.

Uhh, those are what come to mind. Obviously I'm still in my 20s, but we're definitely NOT broke, so I would consider myself well out of my "broke 20s"

Socializing smart and marrying smart were two huge ways I lived with very little in my early and mid-twenties.  That and no loan for a car -I paid cash for a beater that burned more oil than gas and minimized how much I drove it. 

Lunasol

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2016, 04:19:13 PM »
I lived overseas / was in grad school (w/ a stipend and tuition waiver) during my 20s.  I earned 20K per year teaching English in Taiwan and saved about half.  I earned 6K per year teaching English in China and saved about 2/3.  So even though I didn't make very much money, I was able to live comfortably and save.

Unrelated to OP post but I just love it when someone brings up Taiwan :) Lovely country, miss it like crazy.

Dezrah

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2016, 04:28:28 PM »
Start keeping track of your Net Worth now, even if you don't actually care about the number.  Use automated services like Mint if you're lazy like me.

Some day in the future you'll feel worn and deprived compared to your relatives and colleagues.  On that day you can come to that chart to see how much the curve has improved over time.  That is the security you have made for yourself and it is totally worth the hard work.

If you're impatient now, set mini goals that are challenging but attainable.  Pay off $1k extra on the student loans by New Years.  Spend half as much on food next month as you did this month.  Go three full months without buying any new clothes.  Etc.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2016, 04:30:08 PM »
Start keeping track of your Net Worth now, even if you don't actually care about the number.  Use automated services like Mint if you're lazy like me.

Some day in the future you'll feel worn and deprived compared to your relatives and colleagues.  On that day you can come to that chart to see how much the curve has improved over time.  That is the security you have made for yourself and it is totally worth the hard work.

If you're impatient now, set mini goals that are challenging but attainable.  Pay off $1k extra on the student loans by New Years.  Spend half as much on food next month as you did this month.  Go three full months without buying any new clothes.  Etc.

Mint doesn't store stuff long term! You'll lose it after 13 months. Plan accordingly. Wish I had known that ahead of time...

TravelJunkyQC

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2016, 05:28:37 PM »
Was lucky enough to come out of uni without debt, but then had the financially brilliant idea of becoming a freelance photographer... not the most lucrative right out of the gate. I did, however, manage to live on 10k a year for several years. To do so:
- Rented a room/lived with roomates in not-so-hot apartments instead of living alone.
- Drove a 10 year old car, learned to change my own oil and filter and do minimum maintenance on it.
- Went out to dinner *maybe* once every 3 to 4 months? When it happened, it was BYOB restaurants.
- Worked a few hours a week at the local climbing gym since climbing was my biggest "fun" cost and this way I got some extra cash (albeit at minimum wage), and I got to climb for free and make friends with my interest.
- Found activities through the city university (fun activities, and they tend to be cheaper, and aren't always restricted to only students)
- Ate a shit-ton of soups, salads and sandwiches. Or, big batch homemade spaghetti sauce.
- Went to Costco with friends and split the shopping between 3 or 4 of us (helpful when buying large amounts of perishable items)
- Gave absolutely zero fucks if people thought I lived "poor" or as if I was still a student even if I wasn't.

Easye418

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2016, 08:21:29 PM »
"Drinking has its benefits" - quote from Almost Heroes if you didn't know.

Lol... In reality, Hard work, blood, sweat, tears, luck, timing.

If all goes my way, I should be out of my broke twenties MAYBE by 29.

mustachepungoeshere

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2016, 09:56:47 PM »
Find equally broke friends. (Or at least friends who are practical and sensible with money.)

Among one of my circles of friends there was a couple a few years older than the others who were very open about their finances.

They were actually quite well off, but lived like students to meet their admirable financial goals. So they weren't afraid to say, "We haven't budgeted for that" or to suggesti cheap activities for us as a group. They had us over for dinner every week or two, always good food but always cheap, bulk meals (soup, stew, etc).

I thanked my friend once for setting such a good example of us, and she was really touched. I didn't know that someone had recently had a go at her for openly talking about personal finance, telling her: "It's not all about money!"

Zikoris

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2016, 10:22:45 PM »
Start keeping track of your Net Worth now, even if you don't actually care about the number.  Use automated services like Mint if you're lazy like me.

Some day in the future you'll feel worn and deprived compared to your relatives and colleagues.  On that day you can come to that chart to see how much the curve has improved over time.  That is the security you have made for yourself and it is totally worth the hard work.

If you're impatient now, set mini goals that are challenging but attainable.  Pay off $1k extra on the student loans by New Years.  Spend half as much on food next month as you did this month.  Go three full months without buying any new clothes.  Etc.

Mint doesn't store stuff long term! You'll lose it after 13 months. Plan accordingly. Wish I had known that ahead of time...

I'm not sure what you mean about Mint - I have nearly five years of detailed spending and net worth data there now, growing every month. That chart has one nice looking curve.

FLBiker

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2016, 06:37:33 AM »
I lived overseas / was in grad school (w/ a stipend and tuition waiver) during my 20s.  I earned 20K per year teaching English in Taiwan and saved about half.  I earned 6K per year teaching English in China and saved about 2/3.  So even though I didn't make very much money, I was able to live comfortably and save.

Mac and cheese and Counter-Strike.

Wow, that brought me back.  I used to go to LAN Cafes and play CS for hours when I was living in Taiwan.  Me and a bunch of highschool kids.  It was a blast!

wenchsenior

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2016, 07:39:43 AM »
We were in grad school and working part time all through our 20's, and we were just broke. We didn't have any debt, though. We pretty much did without anything that wasn't essential (and some things that were.)

I have no desire to revisit those days, but they were educational and we collected a lot of good stories along the way.

This was our experience as well. I was in school for 8 years total, and my husband (who went to college after a stint as a poor, working adult) ended up in school for 10 and then needed a 2 year post doc, so we didn't even own a bed, or a couch, or even consider saving and investing until he was almost 40. Talk about a late start! The OP can consider themselves ahead of the game to even be thinking about long term financial issues at their age.

We ended up with student loans to the tune of about 20K, but minimal consumer debt, but we kept costs down by a couple of small scholarships to offset tuition, working part time through most college, and in my case, taking a full year of basic courses at the local community college which reduced costs for that year AND allowed me to establish residency, which then DRAMATICALLY cut my state university tuition for all remaining years. However, the main way we kept costs down was (no surprise) not overpaying on housing. We lived the ENTIRE time  in a 1 room studio apartment, with very nice landlords who didn't raise rent very often. If I recall, I think our all inclusive rent was about 300$/month. Also, living in such a tiny space prevented us from accumulating/buying too much shit (though we did build a loft bed to store all our crap under LOL).

Still, if I could do it all over? I realize we still frittered a lot of money on eating out, random mall-purchases, and our raging book/cd habit. OP, just by developing the habit of being really really conscious of where your money goes, you are doing well for yourself.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2016, 07:42:53 AM by wenchsenior »

Syonyk

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2016, 08:23:55 AM »
Thermostat set to keep the pipes from freezing. Blankets are cheaper than natural gas. Electric blankets for bed pre heating.

And an old, efficient (50mpg) motorcycle I rode a lot of the year. Bonus for riding it for work travel with mileage reimbursement. $0.45/mi on an old motorcycle is profitable.

Jouer

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2016, 08:51:28 AM »
I certainly didn't have my shit together in my 20's but I did manage to do a few things right:

- roommate in a crappy apartment
- lived close to work
- no car
- never dinner out. I mean, I'd order pizza that would last me two days or sometimes fish n chips at a pub, but never a proper restaurant.
- no spendy vacations, except to go home (half way across the country) to visit family, on average every 1.5 years.
- crushed work. Tons of hours, learn a new software program over a weekend, etc. Lead to getting poached for better paying jobs.

cats

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2016, 08:53:47 AM »
We need way more information to help out, check out the case study sticky and post a full case study that being said one of the popular posts here talks about having and emergency fund, contributing upto your employer match in 401k, then pay down any debts > 7% first. 



I agree that a case study is needed if you want the most useful advice.  That said, I am another who spent my 20s in grad school, earning an average of around $25k/yr for ages 22-30.  I also had about $15k in student loans.

The big thing for me was keeping housing expenses low.  Having roommates is great.  Your tolerance for other people and their idiosyncrasies will probably go down as you get older, so this is definitely the easiest time to make the best of communal living.  Having super-low rent will give you a LOT more room in the budget.

Other stuff:
-Skip car ownership.  I had a car for a few years (it was lovingly forced upon me by relatives and I was naive enough to accept it), and when it finally died, I did not replace it.  I started riding my bike and taking the bus more for local stuff, and either carpooling with friends (and offering gas money) or renting cars for out of town trips.  Overall it saved me money and also the time/stress of owning a car (not having to remember to schedule maintenance is kind of nice!).

-Learn to cook, if you don't already.  Eat more cheap bean and rice style meals and less hamburgers.

-Find cheap ways to hang out with friends, like hosting a BYOB game night or potluck, instead of going out to bars.  The folks in grad school who had money issues ALWAYS seemed to be going out for drinks on Friday or Saturday night.

-Do start throwing some money into investments, it doesn't have to be a lot but it will get you in the habit of investing early (plus compound interest and all that jazz).  My only regret about my investment decisions is not having started a year or two earlier!

MarciaB

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #22 on: November 16, 2016, 09:01:09 AM »
As some other posters have suggested - manage food costs. Specifically, if you aren't already good at this - learn to cook. This benefits your health and your wallet. And also provides a nice way to socialize with friends (even spendy ones - get them to bring the high-cost booze!).

Best lifetime skill ever.

Bearblastbeats

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #23 on: November 16, 2016, 09:10:18 AM »
I am still in my twenties, at least until Feb.

You got to work.

I worked. And worked. And worked some more. and when I thought I had a day off, I worked.

Right out of HS I went to work for my brother installing floors. At the age of 21 I went to college, while having a PT job as a facility manager at a storage facility, while still working for my brother every chance I could.

My first year into college my mother passed and I needed to rent out rooms in her house weekly to cover costs, and I continued to work, and go to school, and play landlord.

Graduated in 2011 and have been working in engineering firms ever since. Gave the house back to the bank in 2014, moved to the seacoast so I was closer to my brother and still worked at my engineering firm. Worked every weekend for my brother when the work came in and went to my job M-F.

Here at the end of 2016, I have a 3 bedroom house with my GF and two dogs. I still work M-F at my engineering firm, most weekends I work for a coworker (they love that I know a trade, great side hussle), or I work for my brother.

The only thing I learned is that you gotta may hay when the sun is shining.

Syonyk

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #24 on: November 16, 2016, 09:43:42 AM »
Oh, and if you drink?  Find a local grad student if you're anywhere near a university.  They'll know the bar specials in the area like nobody else.  I rarely paid more than $1/pint in grad school, and Tuesdays were Long Islands at a local bar for about $4.  One of them was enough.  If you had two, you'd better have a couch near the bar to crash on.

mm1970

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #25 on: November 16, 2016, 11:37:42 AM »
Hi all,

As a noobie here in their early/somewhat mid 20s. I'm feeling like saving is hard work. Impatience has a lot to do with it. Nonetheless, I'm in a situation that quite a lot of people in their 20s are in. Student loans, car loan :(, not a high earner but not starving either.

I've been considering a second job to save more but I'm interested in how Mustachians here did in their 20s or are doing now.

Was it a struggle to pay of debt? Should I throw everything into debt and ignore investing?

My cost of living has been very low which has helped get myself together (lived with roommates for $400 rent).

So how did you survive or are you surviving?

I rented cheap.
I didn't go out to eat.
My entertainment was cheap.  ($45 a year gym membership.  Gym is a strong word.)
I saved about 12% of my gross pay a year into IRA, mutual funds, and insurance.  I had a small emergency fund and the rest went to student loans.
My car was cheap.
I threw everything else at my student loans.

Each raise went directly to student loans (half) and IRA (half).

I think my investing was about $200 a month.  My student loan payments were similar. 

nexus

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #26 on: November 16, 2016, 04:06:59 PM »
26 now. First full year not being paycheck to paycheck (more info in my journal).

Graduated @ 22 in 2012 w/ credit card debt and a car payment. Growing up I thought debt was normal as my parents often carried credit card debt. My first handful of jobs barely paid above minimum wage. I lived at home until early 2014 when I moved cross country to make a whopping $14.50/hour. Thank goodness my rent was just shy of $600.

After moving out, I picked up a second job delivering pizzas and paid off my car and credit card(s). I love tips. Nothing is better (IMO) than walking out the door with cash in hand at the end of a shift. No sooner did I do that, I re-relocated back to my home state (six months later), sold my car in the moving process and got a shiny new car loan.

Job situation was still crap and was making $22.60/hour by the time I left that company mid 2015. I landed a much better paying job and almost exactly a year later (July 2016) I paid off my car loan. The was the biggest check I had ever written.

Fast forward to present day and I still have a rewards credit card (switching to the Chase Sapphire soon for Travel Hacking purposes) that I pay off in full every month. I still have a very flexible side hustle where I give tennis lessons and string rackets when I feel like it. Being my own boss in that respect grants me the freedom to say no from time to time. I tend to take more business when I have a trip planned.

I'd really like to get a part time job bartending somewhere slow and quiet, but it will have to wait until next year after I figure out my job situation (currently working through a temp agency). I would use that extra income to pay down debt (if I had any), reach FI faster, save for a down payment on a house, or to fund trips/vacations. Not going to lie, I'd probably just spend/earmark roughly half of it and invest the rest.

Annihilation500

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #27 on: November 16, 2016, 05:07:32 PM »
28 here.  I just started getting serious traction about two years ago.  It's important to note that progress appears slow at first, but then accelerates as you build momentum!  If you figure out a way to keep living like you're in college and broke, but still thoroughly enjoy life, then you'll see progress in time. 

I still spend like I'm a broke college student, but it's a lot of fun when you see your net worth start forming a geometric curve upward :).  I still have as much fun as I did in college, which is more fun than most of my coworkers who make much more than I do.

aschmidt2930

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #28 on: November 16, 2016, 07:22:25 PM »
There's a lot of good advice in this thread, and establishing frugal habits is critical.  After that, focus on maximizing income. Don't spend your energy and "mental capital" figuring out how to make your own laundry detergent or save an extra couple bucks on your grocery bill.  Create a plan to get promoted, then go do it.  If it doesn't work, move companies a couple times. Even better, move cities, the best opportunities tend to go towards those willing to relocate. Work on your communication and learn whatever it is the next step requires. I made 32k my first year out of college, and less than four years later that's tripled in a LCOL area.  I've seen plenty of people on this forum who have multiplied their incomes even more than that.

If you focus on opportunity your twenties can be an explosion of wealth. 

Rufus.T.Firefly

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #29 on: November 16, 2016, 08:04:31 PM »
Plenty of great experience in this thread already. I'll chime in with something similar.

We survived by staying patient. I'm now late 20s. In my early 20s, everyone else I knew heading out on their own seemed so impatient to me. Many jumped right into mortgages, upgraded cars, and the like. I'll echo what Annihilation500 said, just keep spending like a broke college student. Question every increase in your standard of living. If you say "I can't live without it," wait a week and see if you're still alive.

After that, focus on increasing your earnings. This was just my experience, but I've been very surprised how staying focused on this leads to making large sums of money. How just doing the simple things right at work (showing up with energy, being productive, and being nice) and keeping your eyes open for opportunity leads to increases in pay. My wife and I have been out of school now for 6 years and both of our incomes have increased more rapidly than I guessed. Our combined income this year has more than doubled compared to our first year.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Bicycle_B

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #30 on: November 16, 2016, 08:23:05 PM »
Not usually broke, just thrifty and often fun.

PHASE ONE - HOME TOWN
1. Got job at $350/week (maybe $700 in today's terms).
2. Rented room in shared house (maybe $350/mo today).
3. Rode bike, didn't own car. 
4. Bought food at grocery store.  No microwave stuff except frozen vegies.  Lots of peanut butter sandwiches, carrots, fruit, Wheaties, milk... I actually like that stuff, but learn to cook is my advice looking back.
5. Banked half of paycheck.

Before leaving town, purchased small used Japanese sedan for $900 cash (just under $2,000 today I think) from private buyer.  No car loan. Ran it for 6 years, sold to friend.  Car ran several more years, friend is still my friend.

PHASE TWO - MOVED TO CITY
1. Selected destination with low cost of living, high quality of life, decent number of jobs. 
2. Got cheap apartment ($600 today), then switched to rented room in house ($350 today). 
3. Too many low-paying jobs, as in near minimum wage, for first couple of years, due to inaccurate self-perception.  Saved maybe 10% at this time.
4. Kept buying food at grocery store.
5. Cheap hobbies - reading, books from library, etc.  Went to every cool new bar but didn't spend much on drinks.  Now that my city is legend for nightlife, I'm the old guy who went those historic clubs back in the day.  It was worth it.
6. Got soulless but safe corporate job.  Learned a lot, which was part of the purpose... I had a plan (and, later, left per per my plan).  Earned $40k-$50 in today's money, maintained same lifestyle. 
7. Maxed out 401k!
8. Bought house thanks to stable job.  Filled the extra bedrooms with paying roommates.  My dwelling cost went to almost zero!  Saving/investing maybe 40% at that point.
9. I still live in that house years later, though my property tax went up.  Not quite free any more.  (Of course, the property value went up too.  Several hundred percent eventually.)
10.  Met beautiful woman, helped raise kids for a while.  Relationship ended later but had little cost impact.  Good times just the same.  Decade over.

PS.  I also made friends in both places.  That added a lot to the joy of it. 

One guy in my home town had an entertainment budget of zero because he could barely pay the rent.  80% to 100% of his paltry income paid his share of rent, leaving him maybe $10 for food in a good week.  I hung out with him for a while and discovered if you know you're going to spend zero, and you're open to what happens next, often it's something fun.  You just go out and explore and see what happens.  Three of the friends I made in the City are still best friends for life (hey, I pioneered the BFF thing before it became a thing!)
« Last Edit: November 16, 2016, 08:42:34 PM by Bicycle_B »

chasesfish

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #31 on: November 17, 2016, 06:04:38 AM »
I simply worked my ass off in my career (low starting salary and high upside), started my 401k at the minimum and split raises with increased contributions until it maxed out, and watched what we spent.

I went into professional/financial sales and the "working my ass off" part did the most for me.  At 22 I made $37,500 and at 29, I earned $160,800.   This led me from sales into management at 31.

If you are willing to show up on time, work hard, and show hustle/drive, making money is not difficult.  Successful people will see your drive and hustle and want to do business with you.

Financial Independence requires hard work on both the income and the expense side of the equation.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2016, 06:06:46 AM by chasesfish »

Linea_Norway

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #32 on: November 17, 2016, 06:07:37 AM »
My worse time was as a student. My parent paid for my study and I got some money from the government. But living on my own, I really did not have enough to get around. What helped was getting a job beside my study. I worked for about 20 hours a week in the evening and weekends. That really helped me to get out of trouble and to be able to live a bit.

Moving into an appartment with my boyfriend (my husband) did also help a lot, by sharing housing cost.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2016, 02:13:51 AM by Linda_Norway »

skeeder

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #33 on: November 17, 2016, 06:45:25 AM »
Depending on your personality, this process can be pretty daunting.  I found it annoying to always feel like I didn't have money.  Fortunately, my wife--aka the accountant--could talk me off the ledge from a fiscal standpoint and I --aka the investor--can do the same for her. 

Realize you'll need to make some smart choices in the short term that may not suit your style of buying things.  I'm a big 'buy it for life' type person, unfortunately, that idea normally costs quite a bit more.

You'll make alot of sacrifices in your 20's.  but hopefully you'll be mostly debt free in your 30's.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #34 on: November 17, 2016, 09:26:14 AM »
Depending on your personality, this process can be pretty daunting.  I found it annoying to always feel like I didn't have money.  Fortunately, my wife--aka the accountant--could talk me off the ledge from a fiscal standpoint and I --aka the investor--can do the same for her. 

Realize you'll need to make some smart choices in the short term that may not suit your style of buying things.  I'm a big 'buy it for life' type person, unfortunately, that idea normally costs quite a bit more.

You'll make alot of sacrifices in your 20's.  but hopefully you'll be mostly debt free in your 30's.

I think the division of labor for couples can really amplify effect. My husband is really good at focusing on the income side- the hustle, the endless hard work, the sometimes necessary interpersonal "games". I am really good at the outgo- the frugality, the price tracking, seeing the forest through the trees type of thing. We are definitely more effective together because of this.

mskyle

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #35 on: November 17, 2016, 10:05:08 AM »
I was pretty close to paycheck-to-paycheck for a lot of my 20s - better at 29 than at 22, but still not saving a ton from my actual paycheck. Fortunately, though, I had employers who put money in my retirement accounts whether I wanted them to or not, so by 30 I did have some retirement savings, and for my 30th birthday I even invested some in a taxable brokerage account (unfortunately, that was May 2008...). I worked six days a week for a long time, I walked/biked/bussed to work, I always had at least one roommate, I ate cheap stuff, I didn't go out a whole lot (especially not with friends who I knew were spendy). I worked those two jobs while I went to grad school and I took out loans, but only for what I absolutely couldn't cash flow.

It wasn't easy, and I wasn't even that frugal!

Zikoris

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #36 on: November 17, 2016, 10:24:35 AM »
Well, I've only been out of my 20s for about two months, but I basically did the same stuff I do now - work full time, rent cheap places, walk/bike/bus to get around, cook all my meals, and avoid stupid spending.

I also made finding a quality, compatible partner an important priority, which a lot of people don't in their 20s. Sorting that part of your life out early helps you SO MUCH in both the finance and personal realm. I haven't been single since I was 22, but single friends have told me that finding quality partners gets substantially harder as you get older, since so many people are already paired off by their 30s.

WranglerBowman

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #37 on: November 17, 2016, 12:39:57 PM »
Realized when to call it on a career direction, and was willing to go back to school for something employable. It set my start back a couple years, but I'm happier, wealthier, and far more employable now.

Related: be willing to relocate. I didn't consider myself a city gal in the least, but that's where the right schooling and job market was. So we moved for a few years, and were able to buy in our Hometown when we came back.

Socialize smart. Try to find similarly minded frugal friends, or convert your friends to the cult ;) in little measures, lol. Drinking at home is always cheaper, haha.

Dated smart, married smart. This is an undervalued thing. Divorce is expensive, misery is expensive, have a spendthrift spouse sets you up for failure. Begin with the end in mind- know what you value and make sure anyone you're getting serious with values that too.

Uhh, those are what come to mind. Obviously I'm still in my 20s, but we're definitely NOT broke, so I would consider myself well out of my "broke 20s"

Braken_Joy provided some good advice IMO.  When I graduated college at 23 I lived with 2 of my college roommates in a crappy house and did everything I could to save money, as well as make extra money, as well as got my company to pay for my masters.  If you're thinking about an additional degree now is the time cause life only gets crazier. 

I would also focus on what you like to do and chase the higher paying jobs in that field.  Making as much as you can as early as you can has so many benefits, but don't forget to have fun frugally along the way.  For me it was dive bars and sleeping on couches and in cars around the country with friends, getting lots of experiences under my belt while I could still be young, carefree, and moderately reckless without major repercussions...(sigh) those were truly the best years of my life so far*.

*Spoken as a 32 year old, married with kids,

Dicey

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #38 on: November 17, 2016, 01:09:04 PM »
Decided after a surprise bout of cancer to forego a 4 year degree in favor of a self-funded AA, so, no student debt. Roommate, a stable job with a company car and reimbursed travel expenses (OMG, made money the per diem!) all set me on the path to home ownership. I bought way too many clothes and stupid shiny stuff along the way, but still made it to FIRE. You can, too!

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #39 on: November 17, 2016, 01:12:03 PM »
Here's what I wished I did in my 20s:
- Avoided debt.
- Kept driving my crappy car instead of buying a new one.
- Joined groups or clubs doing interesting things instead of depending on bars for socialization.
- Learned to cook and make my own meals.
- Tried to improve my social status by buying spending things, clothes
- Focused on building marketable skills
- Understood that I am not owed anything - I am not owed a nice apartment if I can't afford it
- Kept the faith that hard work will eventually be rewarded

I envy you for having the intelligence to think about this stuff in your 20s. I didn't. Playing catch-up in your 30s really sucks.

doggyfizzle

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #40 on: November 17, 2016, 01:22:40 PM »
1) I lived (and still do) in a place with abundant outdoor recreation opportunities (hiking, biking, surfing, etc) that didn't cost a lot (once you had the basic equipment which can be had for not too much $$ on CL).  I found that by keeping busy outside, I was less inclined to buy "stuff" that would just accumulate in an apartment.

2) I worked a lot; 12-hour days for rotations of up to 6-8 weeks at a time on boats in the middle of nowhere.  At the time, the seismic boats had really bad internet connections so there wasn't any opportunity to spend money while at sea except for doing a couple hundred $$ of damage at the bar at port call, which was worth it.  More importantly, by taking stacked offshore assignments, I was able to build up a sizable bank/brokerage balance quickly, and also developed my skill set which allowed for promotions, higher salary, and the relaxed but lucrative job I have now.

3) Invest.  I maxed my 401k my first full year of employment, and began to buy stock/m-funds with every paycheck.  If you get used to deferring a bit of your paycheck towards productive investments you'll find you don't even miss the consumption that could have been had on the full paycheck.

4) Don't buy fancy cars/jewelry/clothes.  Besides my wife's engagement ring, I spent very little on the common money traps of 20-somethings.  I still have my truck I got from my parents in high school (with 217k miles on it).  It wasn't always the most fuel efficient choice of commuting, but the lack of a car payment was awesome.

icemodeled

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #41 on: November 17, 2016, 01:42:08 PM »
I am late 20s now and will soon be 30 and can say my early 20s were very much like you described. I had a car loan and medical bills, low paying job ect. Best thing I did was to spend much less then I earned. Cheap phone plan, no fancy outings, no drinking, rarely ate out. I mostly stuck to free events for entertainment and outdoor activities like hiking. Friends would either come over to visit or I would visit them but didn't go out to eat to socialize. I put everything towards debt and had $3000 for a emergency fund. Thankfully my car loan wasn't big, I purchased a moderately inexpensive used car(good on gas to).

Also, I worked any overtime I could plus do any extra side jobs I could find. I enjoyed graphic design and website design so I would sell those services very cheap to earn a little more. So if you can work two jobs or have a good side job that helps a whole lot and put it towards paying off debt. I have been debt free now since 26!

My husband and I married and we also continued the same type of living. We had a very affordable wedding, no debt occurred from that. Once the car debt was paid, vowed never to buy another car again with a loan, cash only!

Definitely invest if you have an employer who does a 401k match. I did but my husband did not, which hurt us some. Hopefully you can pay off that debt and no occur anymore, that will make all the difference. Live moderately and do not feel entitled to things because you work.. Something I think most feel at times but will either resist or give in. My FIRST job at 18 I thought I should eat out constantly and buy things whenever I wanted since I earned it. Haha, that feeling quickly changed when I realized I didn't have any money left each month, thankfully I realized that before leaving home.

Ynari

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #42 on: November 17, 2016, 03:05:34 PM »
Luck out and have a good support system? I kid, a bit, but my parents and my SO have been a big part of me currently living comfortably in my mid-20s.

Other than standard frugal advice, I think there's some early learning curve that is good to be aware of when you're starting out, and will help you avoid getting into trouble later.

1. Live minimalistically, and know how to balance "buy it for life" quality purchases with cheaper items that fill your needs - especially if are mobile as a lot of people are at this time in their lives. For instance, when I moved out of the dorms, my dad offered to help me outfit my apartment. I asked for A LOT of kitchen things, and he sent me less than half of it. It was sufficient and honestly a lot less stressful to move when I had less stuff, and the stuff I had wasn't expensive things that I was attached to, so I could pass it off to friends or sell to other students easily. But when it comes to bigger purchases, like a car, do your research, and wait for a good deal. I got my car from someone who was moving in a week and had to sell ASAP.

2. Learn from your mistakes. I lived in an apartment that wasn't super expensive but I probably could have gotten a place for $100/mo less if I'd looked harder. I had a monthly budget that I was coming in under, but that $100/mo would have been nice for a number of other things. I now take a lot more notice in monthly expenses and try to reduce them when possible.

3. Learn how to say no. I'm working on this one right now - I've gotten stuck with high optometrist costs or expensive doctor's tests because I don't know how to say no and am easily swayed by "experts". I'm trying to realize I've got the authority to say no, and the right to avoid situations that'll put me at a disadvantage when possible.

4. Automate decisions when possible. You won't miss the money diverted to your 401k if you never see it in your paycheck in the first place.

But above all, I'm trying to make it out of this decade happy and healthy, even if my investments aren't as big as they could have been. I'm doing things for my mental health, pursuing more education, trying out careers that don't always work out. It's a bit of a luxury that I can do that, but financial awareness is part of what makes that exploration possible.

Slinky

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #43 on: November 18, 2016, 05:39:26 PM »
I think the key to succeeding in your 20s is to do some hard thinking about goals and priorities. You have to define success. Where would you like to be when you get to 30? Cool. Now figure out what you need to do in order to get there and then prioritize them in order of importance and start knocking them out one at a time. It's easy to go off in a bazillion directions or be distracted by unimportant stuff that doesn't serve your goals. Set a budget, keep expenses low, increase your income, and deploy extra funds strategically. You might not be able to do everything right away and some things may be subject to change, but you can certainly start heading in the direction you want to go.

I referred to my plan for my 20s as "Project Base Camp". I wanted to be married and pay cash for the wedding and honeymoon, buy a house, have a reliable car that should last me the next decade, get my retirement accounts started as much as possible, and have no debt besides my mortgage. Basically, I wanted to get my life sorted and establish a nice status quo to maintain while I save and invest towards FIRE. I decided to keep the student loan at least for now (small with relatively low interest), but otherwise I nailed it. Then I ran out of concrete goals and my plans got all fuzzy and it kind of turned into the dark ages of my finances. I still saved and invested, but without the strong focus on the goal it's a lot easier for things to slip through.

Metric Mouse

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #44 on: November 19, 2016, 09:16:08 AM »
Following. Love all these stories of how people have improved!

Cranky

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #45 on: November 19, 2016, 10:42:25 AM »
We were in grad school and working part time all through our 20's, and we were just broke. We didn't have any debt, though. We pretty much did without anything that wasn't essential (and some things that were.)

I have no desire to revisit those days, but they were educational and we collected a lot of good stories along the way.

This was our experience as well. I was in school for 8 years total, and my husband (who went to college after a stint as a poor, working adult) ended up in school for 10 and then needed a 2 year post doc, so we didn't even own a bed, or a couch, or even consider saving and investing until he was almost 40. Talk about a late start! The OP can consider themselves ahead of the game to even be thinking about long term financial issues at their age.

We ended up with student loans to the tune of about 20K, but minimal consumer debt, but we kept costs down by a couple of small scholarships to offset tuition, working part time through most college, and in my case, taking a full year of basic courses at the local community college which reduced costs for that year AND allowed me to establish residency, which then DRAMATICALLY cut my state university tuition for all remaining years. However, the main way we kept costs down was (no surprise) not overpaying on housing. We lived the ENTIRE time  in a 1 room studio apartment, with very nice landlords who didn't raise rent very often. If I recall, I think our all inclusive rent was about 300$/month. Also, living in such a tiny space prevented us from accumulating/buying too much shit (though we did build a loft bed to store all our crap under LOL).

Still, if I could do it all over? I realize we still frittered a lot of money on eating out, random mall-purchases, and our raging book/cd habit. OP, just by developing the habit of being really really conscious of where your money goes, you are doing well for yourself.

We didn't have any credit cards, so were unable to fritter away any money. In retrospect, that was a good thing, even though it meant we slept on a mattress that someone else had thrown out - for about 10 years. We also came out of those years with no student debt, since dh was in a science field, so that was another great thing. And we lived in a really awful apartment (we often could see our breath when we woke up in the morning.)

In the long run, it was worth it, and all these years later, I'm still pretty grateful every time I go to the grocery store and fill up my cart with whatever looks good!


Mtngrl

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #46 on: November 19, 2016, 05:10:40 PM »
I still have the ledger I kept our first year of marriage, when i was 19 and DH was 23. I was still in college full time and he was very early in his career, working for low wages. We lived in a mobile home with cheap rent, had one car -- a used one that was a gift from my parents. We accounted for every single penny in that ledger book -- ate a lot of cheap starches and beans. When we went out it was to meet with similarly broke friends at each other's houses. We didn't buy anything that wasn't absolutely necessary. We also managed to put money aside in savings. We had both been raised with little money, so we didn't feel deprived, and while we were happy to be able to upgrade our lifestyle over the years as our earnings increased, the lessons we learned those early broke years have stood us in good stead.

arebelspy

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #47 on: November 19, 2016, 07:10:34 PM »
It's all about setting up your whole lifestyle for success.

Think about the common recommend for if you're dieting: don't keep ice cream, or chips, or junk food or whatever in the house.  Rather than having it, and having to resist it, just don't buy it.  Avoiding the temptation, if it's there, is hard.  You either succumb, or you don't, but you burn a lot of willpower doing so.

Same thing with your financial success.  Set it up so everything is smooth, and you don't have to try and resist.

Have a small space.  Own few things.  Have an older car.  Get good at cooking, so you can eat in.

Don't constantly fight with yourself, but set up a frictionless existence where you're enjoying what you have, you're living simply.  Then set your investments on autopilot, your spending will be naturally low, and you'll be happy with it, and you'll end up FIRE'd before you know it!
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RelaxedGal

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #48 on: November 19, 2016, 07:31:35 PM »
Realized when to call it on a career direction, and was willing to go back to school for something employable. It set my start back a couple years, but I'm happier, wealthier, and far more employable now.

Related: be willing to relocate. I didn't consider myself a city gal in the least, but that's where the right schooling and job market was. So we moved for a few years, and were able to buy in our Hometown when we came back.

Socialize smart. Try to find similarly minded frugal friends, or convert your friends to the cult ;) in little measures, lol. Drinking at home is always cheaper, haha.

Dated smart, married smart. This is an undervalued thing. Divorce is expensive, misery is expensive, have a spendthrift spouse sets you up for failure. Begin with the end in mind- know what you value and make sure anyone you're getting serious with values that too.

Uhh, those are what come to mind. Obviously I'm still in my 20s, but we're definitely NOT broke, so I would consider myself well out of my "broke 20s"

She said it best, and succinctly, but I feel a need to navel gaze.  Bracken_Joy pretty much lived my life :-)

I worked 2 jobs through college and my parents are moderate to low income, so I didn't have much in the way of loans, and the ones I got were US Federal subsidized.  Graduated at 21 with no job lined up, worked retail until I got a job in my field (making less!).  Worked that horrible job for nearly a year while taking classes at the community college.  More than 6 credits/semester = subsidized loans stay in forbearance.  I was living with another student who also had a full time job so any partying was vodka from the freezer (Pro tip: shitty vodka doesn't taste so shitty when it's ice cold).  One year after graduation I moved to a higher cost of living area, but my pay tripled thanks to those community college classes (and the dot com boom, I'm old).  Paid off the loans before the end of forbearance.  Still lived with and hung out with college students the next 2 years.  We had a full kitchen at the office so I made my grilled cheese and cappuccinos there.  All of my friends were living like college students, I was dating grad students, so a low cost lifestyle was the norm for my peer group.  Lots of cooking parties at friends' houses, on-campus movie screenings, going to friends' houses to watch amateur subtitled anime.  Got a car loan, paid it off within a year.  I'll admit, I don't think I started an IRA until 3 years out of college, and I don't think I put more than the minimum for the company match into the 401K until about that same time.  The time I had some breathing room with the loans paid off.

Someone else mentioned focusing on income.  Do that!  Your 20's are the time that you gain experience and most careers increase pretty rapidly.  As Bracken_Joy said, be willing to switch careers and locations.  Especially if you are 1-4 years out of college and single.

Vertical Mode

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Re: How Did You Survive Your Broke Twenties?
« Reply #49 on: November 19, 2016, 08:39:43 PM »
Late twenties here, checking in.

As simple as it sounds, my advice would be to start by learning to be disciplined about paying yourself first. Save money in the 401(k) at least up to whatever amount your company will match, to take advantage of any "free money" that's on the table. Compound interest is the vehicle that will drive wealth creation - pay yourself automatically, let the dividends reinvest and watch the snowball start to grow! At first it will feel like progress is very slow, but before long it will start to accelerate.

Do you have any debt >6% from student loans, credit cards, etc.? Knock that stuff out with a sense of purpose, it's a ball and chain that will only get heavier if you don't deal with it. If you have any lower-interest debt, evaluate whether paying it off aggressively is worth the tradeoff for what that money could be earning while invested. If you don't have any debt of significance, invest as much as you can!

As far as the brass tacks of keeping budgets low:

-Try to find a reasonable rent situation and/or roommates to keep your housing costs down
-Thermostat as low as you/your roomies can get it, as long as your pipes don't freeze. We only use the baseboards in the bathroom where there is plumbing, otherwise we keep it as low as we can stand.
-Recreation activities that aren't super expensive, like hiking, leaf peeping, the beach, etc.
-Cook at home as often as is practical. Bringing a lunch to work every day is a big one. Buy food in bulk whenever practical.
-Biking. It's how I get around. My GF has a car, but we'll be getting rid of it ASAP
-The library. More free entertainment and information than anyone's brain could possibly absorb!

-Probably the biggest one of all, as others have said; if seeking a long-term relationship/life partner, try to find someone who holds similar values to you with respect to money/finance. This is a major source for disagreements in relationships, but also having a partner who is working with you toward FIRE or whatever your goals may be can be the difference in making that a reality.

What most of this boils down to is: Synergy. Try to design your lifestyle in an efficient way, so that components of it complement other components.

Live close to work/the grocery so you can walk or bike = don't need a car to get there, and you'll be more fit
Cook at home, bring to work = keep food costs down, can be healthier since it gives you control of the ingredients
ETC...

Again, it may feel like you're not getting anywhere at first, but what you're looking to do is build a foundation for what comes next. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Learn to focus on what make you HAPPY and FULFILLED - this may well be decoupled from spending money on things. I wish I had figured that out earlier than I did, but we all start somewhere on the spectrum.

Good luck!