In your twenties you experience massive change. It is likely to be the decade of your life where just about everything will change. You’ll start working, gaining independence, living alone and earning money. It’s important that you have some clear ideas about how to manage your money during these years of your life to set you up for financial success. Start paying off your student loans It’s essential that you graduate university with a good picture of what you owe and who you owe money to. Too many students hide their heads in the sand and never really deal with their student loans. Then suddenly, it’s five years later, and they have thousands of rands of interest piled onto their accounts. Start dealing with these soon after you graduate and start earning your first paycheque. Be careful about big purchases This means not buying a new car right away. We have become a society which values cars and sees them as an indication of success. It is common to think that people who drive fancy cars are rich and successful. The reality is these cars are owned by the bank and they’re paying exorbitant sums of money each month to drive it around. Unless you can pay cash for a car, you don’t really own it. Be sure to negotiate your salary One of the biggest indicators of financial success is your starting salary. Your first few years of earning will dictate what all of your future pay packages will be. Think about it this way, when you start a new job, your employer will ask you what you want to earn. If you name a low price for yourself, they won’t offer more. Then at your next job you increase the amount slightly and ask for that price. In this way, the amount you earn will always come off that first, low base. Financial advisor Suze Orman encourages people, especially women, to research the expected salary. She says: “If you’ve done your homework and the offer comes in low, you have the facts to back you up. Don’t settle. Don’t think you’re asking for too much. Trust me, the truth is that women tend to ask for too little! “Just hold your ground-politely but firmly. Make it clear you are very interested in the job and the company but you need to be somewhere that values (there’s that word again!) your talent and experience.” Don’t put off saving for retirement It’s important to get into the habit of saving for retirement from your first paycheque. This way you’ll be used to seeing that amount deducted each month and not allow yourself the opportunity to get used to that money. Financial experts differ on their advice on how much to save. Some say 10%, others 15% or 20%. Rather, don’t get stuck on these vague rules. Save as much as you possibly can in as many different ways as you can. Research pension plans, retirement annuities, government retail bonds and institutional investments. Ask for advice. Remember, there is someone you know, who knows more about this than you do. Track your spending One of the best way to start implementing healthy financial decisions in your life is to start tracking your spending. Make a point of writing down a list of everything you're spending money on, as you’re spending it. Soon you’ll be able to see where you’re wasting money. You won’t want to write down each cup of coffee, chocolate or beer you buy.But you should. And by doing so, you’ll be able to start creating a budget and sticking to it. Listen to the advice from personal finance blogger Mr Money Mustache: "If work is your core rather than buying yourself treats, money automatically takes care of itself. This means you don’t need to painfully crimp your lifestyle to dribble a few percent of your income into savings. Instead you painstakingly design your lifestyle so you end up keeping and investing more than half of what you earn. Not hundreds per year. Tens or hundreds of thousands per year. "Sure, you’ll blow a few hundred here and there, but you won’t do something completely apesh*t like buying a multi-thousand-dollar wardrobe or financing a new car. These would just be distractions from your real life goals, so why would you allow them to steal your focus?"

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