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Managing your money isn't taught in primary school. Unfortunately, personal finance hasn’t yet become a required subject or module in high school or at university. So you might be fairly clueless about how to manage your money when you’re out in the real world for the first time.

Entry-level jobs and mountains of student loan debt can make saving a hassle for many young people. But it’s still smart and important to start early in life, even in a small way. That way you’ll foster the habits of saving and investing wisely. Saving isn’t rocket science. But it can be difficult to save once you’ve started working because you spend whatever comes in.

For financing, it’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes than to make your own. Here are a few tips that may help you avoid financial hardship in life.

Learn self-control

If your parents taught you this skill when you were a kid, you can consider yourself lucky. If not, the sooner you learn the fine art of delaying gratification, the sooner you’ll find it easy to keep your finances in order. Although you can effortlessly buy any item you want on credit the minute you want it, it’s better to wait until you’ve actually saved up the money. Do you really want to pay interest on a pair of shoes? If you make it a habit of putting all your purchases on credit cards you might still be paying for those items in a few years. It’s all about self-control and self-discipline.

Take control of your own financial future

You can make decisions while you’re a student that can affect you for the rest of your financial future. The ones who are financially successful dedicate their time and energy regularly to budgeting, managing and planning out their finances. So take charge of your finances and conduct research about personal finance. Understanding how money works is the first step towards making your finances work for you.

Know where your money goes

Once you’ve equipped yourself with the right knowledge, you’ll realise how important it is to ensure your expenses aren’t exceeding your income. And the best way to do this is by creating a budget. Once you see where all your money goes, you’ll notice that making small, manageable changes in your everyday expenses can have just as big of an impact on your financial situation as getting a raise. Besides, keeping your recurring monthly expenses as low as possible will also save you big in the long run. If you, for instance, make tax deductible donations to an NGO, look whether it’ll work out better to make the payment monthly or annually. It’s important that you always know where and when your money goes out.

Do you have an emergency fund?

No matter how much you owe in student loans or credit card debt and no matter your monthly income, it’s wise to find some money in your budget to save in an emergency fund every month. Having money in your savings to use for emergencies can keep you out of trouble financially. If you get into the habit of saving and treating it as a non-negotiable monthly expense, soon you’ll have more than emergency money saved up. You’ll have money for retirement and even money for a home down payment one day.

Save for retirement

Retirement might seem far away but now is the time to put some money away for it. Because of the way compound interest works, the sooner you start saving, the less principal you’ll have to invest to end up with the amount you need to retire. And sooner you’ll be able to call working an “option” rather than a “necessity”. Spending less money and trying to save at least twenty percent of your salary is a good foundation on which to build your retirement plan. If you can master this at a young age, you’ll increase your chances of financial independence. Make it a habit of saving every month. Perhaps you can talk to your bank or a financial advisor to work out a savings plan. The bank can also do a debit order every month, that way you’ll know your money is going towards your savings account. Do your homework up front to ensure your savings plan works out perfectly.

Saving in your twenties gives you an advantage over those who wait until the last minute. You don’t need any qualifications or financial background to become an expert at managing your finances. The key to being a successful saver is to start now. The money you save at a young age adds up quickly.

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