Your 20’s are an insane decade where you get to do a little bit of everything. From college, finding a job, traveling, moving, meeting people, and everything else — it’s epic.
Unfortunately, too many people spend all their time in their 20’s “finding themselves.” While you should find what you love, don’t waste your twenties.
Use this decade to set up the rest of your life and have the most fun ever.
Heres’ how you can do both and what I’d tell my 20-year-old self.
Learn About Finances
School failed us.
I didn’t learn anything about personal finances when I received my bachelor’s degree. Instead, I learned about pointless subjects like mythology, astrology, and anthropology. How is money management and personal finance not taught?
Here are my big finance pieces of advice for my 20-year-old self:
Start An Emergency Fund
Establishing an emergency fund should be your #1 priority in your financial life. An emergency fund will be there to save you in case you lose your job, car breaks down or have an unexpected expense.
Contribute to Retirement Accounts
College neglected this one as well.
Most people are familiar with a 401K but not as much with a Roth IRA. Both of them are great retirement accounts that will help grow your money over time.
Your 401K will be through your employer and contribute with pre-tax dollars. This means you’ll be taxed once you withdraw the money in retirement.
A Roth IRA is an account you will set up with a brokerage (I recommend Vanguard) and uses post-tax dollars. This means you won’t be taxed again when you retire.
If possible I recommend investing in both a 401K and IRA. Each account will have their own unique advantages and disadvantages for your future. Get started, don’t wait until you are any older.
The longer you wait the more you will miss out on compound interest.
Earn a High Credit Score
Worry about your credit more than your GPA, it will have a much bigger impact on your future than your degree.
Your credit score will follow you through life and determine if you can secure a loan for an apartment, car, house, and credit cards.
Make sure to not max out your cards, never miss a payment, and don’t use them to spend money you don’t have in your savings. The higher your score, the lower your loans will be and you will save thousands in your lifetime.
Use a free site like Credit Karma to check your credit and find ways to increase your score.
Create a Budget
With apps like Mint and Personal Capital, it’s much easier to track your money than when I was 20 years old. When you’re in your 20’s make sure to always keep a budget and learn to live on less.
The only way to become wealthy is to earn more than you spend.
If you earn $100,000 and spend $95,000 you’re now in a worse position than someone who earns $70,000 and spends $50,000.
Use Balance Transfers
I started using zero percent credit card balance transfers when I was 23 years old. As I had no job, finally graduated college and had less than $2,000 to my name. I used a 0% balance transfer to buy necessities without having to pay interest for 12 months.
Some people will disagree with using them. But, if you’re smart with your money and pay off the balance it’s free money.
Be smart with your balance and make sure you never miss a payment. I still use them today when it comes to buying big items like furniture, computer, or TV.
Track Your Net Worth
I’ve written extensively about tracking my net worth and dedicated an entire chapter of my book to the topic. This is such a great way to stay on top of your finances and understand your habits each month.
Tracking your net worth will also help you set goals, save money, quit excessive spending, and help you gain confidence. If you need a net worth tracker please download my version here.
Take Care of Your Health
I started my 20’s without ever going to the gym and being 30 pounds overweight. But I found fitness and have learned there are so many more benefits than looking good. By starting a good fitness routine in your 20’s you’ll establish a lifelong habit and have more energy than ever.
If you stay healthy as you get older you will be able to spend less on medical bills and pursue your bucket list items. Here is my top fitness advice for my 20-year-old self:
One of the best ways to maintain your health over time will be going to the gym on a regular basis. If you start in your 20’s it’ll much easier to maintain than waiting until you are 30, 40 or 50.
If you don’t like working out find a class, run, or bike. Find activities that you like so you are more likely to stick with them.
Studies have shown that exercise will suppress your appetite, heighten creativity, and give you more energy.
Learn to Cook and Meal Prep
If you need any help check out my newest e-book: Low Carb Diet & Recipes. This has allowed me to get in the best shape since I was 20 years old. I’ve lost 15 pounds in 8 weeks, 4% body fat and have a TON of energy! Meal prep and cooking does not have to be difficult.
Watch a few Youtube videos, follow some foodie accounts on Instagram and spend an hour a week planning ahead!
Your 20’s are the time to start your professional career, establish connections, and learn as much as you can. Spend time fostering relationships, not burning bridges, and trying different types of jobs.
Find Your Passion
It’s taken me years to truly find my passions in life and it took a ton of hard work looking for it.
Make sure you don’t spend your 20’s sitting at a job you hate or don’t love just for the money.
Once I found my passions I quit my six figure job to blog, am trying to play professional golf, and be a full-time writer. Life’s too short to sit chained to a desk!
Spend time finding out what you are passionate about.
Make a plan like I did and live your life, don’t let it go by without going after your dreams. Learn more about finding your passions here.
Make (& Save) Money
From ages 20–25 I earned VERY little money. My jobs as a pizza delivery driver, marketing intern, and call center rep didn’t pay very well (shocker).
But once I got into sales I made a lot of money. I can already hear people saying “I don’t like sales. I don’t like selling.”
Guess what? You sell all the time you just might not know it. You sell friends on going to the movies, vacations with family, time off of work, or 100 other examples.
Learning to sell is an asset I will have forever. Selling will give you the opportunity to earn a lot of money and learn skills will help you for the rest of your life.
Meet Everyone You Can
You’re more than likely going to job hop and meet a ton of people in your twenties. Make sure to keep a positive image when people think about working with you.
When you leave a company don’t burn bridges, stay in contact with co-workers, and build your network online. Keep your LinkedIn professional as it will be your biggest asset in finding a career.
Start a Side Hustle
There are endless benefits of starting a side hustle. Not only do you earn money you also get to spend time doing something you are passionate about.
Tons of online entrepreneurs began side hustling and grew their hustles into dream businesses.
Here are 11 ways to channel your passions into a side hustle and don’t need much money to get started.
It’s amazing how much you will change from age 20 to age 29. I barely recognize my 20-year-old self. I was overweight, broke, vision for my future.
Granted it is easy to fall into these traps in your 20’s you need to spend time finding out what you want to do in life. Here are my top tips to grow as a person in your 20’s and conquer your dreams.
I was pretty good about traveling in my 20’s but could have done more. Traveling will never be easier than it will be in your 20’s.
In your 20’s you can travel cheaply as you might not have a family or need to stay in super nice places. Travel as much as you can so you can always learn how others live around the world.
You’re bound to make amazing memories that will be better than any new toy you can buy.
As soon as you return from a trip book another one when you return. This will keep you motivated and excited for the next adventure in your life.
Surround Yourself With Positivity
The world can look like a negative place if you watch the news. There is always some horrendous story and matching clickbait titles. Social media isn’t much better.
Last year I started following social media accounts that had positive quotes. I now have a Youtube channel of movies, tons of accounts with a positive message and tune out negativity.
It’s easy to get stuck in a negative world. Feed your brain positive, uplifting messages to help you do anything.
Negative thinking works almost 100% of the time, don’t do it!
Understand The Power of Goals
As Tony Robbins said, “People aren’t lazy they simply have impotent goals.”
I didn’t spend enough time in my twenties setting goals. Set goals in all aspects of your life to always have a target to go after.
From how much you want to earn, what weight or body fat, and what you want to achieve by certain ages. By writing down all these goals you will be much more likely to achieve them.
If you can start a habit of staying organized in your twenties you will set yourself up for success. Being organized will lead to establishing a good routine each day, week and month.
“No one ever created a plan to be fat, lazy or stupid. That’s what happens when you don’t have a plan.” — Larry Winget
These are some of the most common habits that successful people share. Start by planning your week on Sunday.
Figure out when you will exercise, what meals you will eat, and what you want to do each day.
Never Stop Learning
It’s easy when you graduate high school or college to think you have learned it all. I learned quickly that I was only getting started and didn’t know much in the “real world.”
Spend time learning new things by reading books, blog, business websites, listen to podcasts, or go to seminars.
Remember as Jim Rohn said, “The best investment you can make is in yourself.”
One of the best habits to start in your 20’s is getting up earlier than your friends and coworkers.
I was way too good at sleeping in from ages 20–26. College equaled late nights and later mornings where I didn’t wake up until noon. Now I can’t sleep in past 6 am even if I am drugged with sedatives.
Waking up early is one of the most common habits that successful people share!
When you get up earlier there are so many benefits:
- Best time to exercise by running or going to the gym.
- Time to work on any side hustles before the business of the day takes over.
- More time to get ready, eat a good breakfast and not get flustered going to work
Conquer Your Bucket List
I recommend creating a bucket list for what you want to do in your 20’s and your entire life. Without it, it can be hard to stay motivated. When it comes to creating a bucket list think about these items:
- Travel (visit all 7 continents, take a trip every year, etc)
- Make Memories (go on a cruise, backpack Europe, etc)
- Attend Events (musicians or sports team you love)
I also recommend creating a financial bucket list so you can reach all your financial goals. These could include buying a car or house, investing, and saving for your future.
When you’re in your 20’s it’s easy to not think about giving back since you might not have much money. But I’ve found that giving back helps others as much as it helps you.
If you’re doing well financially, donate a small percentage to a charity you believe in. If you don’t have much money yet volunteer your time. It could be at a soup kitchen, senior citizen home or animal shelter.
My last piece of advice for your 20’s is to appreciate life. It’s easy to get caught up in social media, your career, friends, and family without appreciating it all. Spend time every day, week, and month being thankful for your life.
Sadly, I’ve known co-workers die in their 20’s, friends get diagnosed with cancer and other tough situations. You need to appreciate everything in your life.
The more you appreciate your life the better your life will be. Keep a positive attitude, know that you have a lot going for you and that your life is only beginning.
Final Thoughts: Advice For My Younger Self
I’ve loved writing on these topics so much I published a book, Advice for My Younger Self, available on Amazon. If you like this post buy my book to expand on all these ideas and provide even more helpful tips to succeed in life.
You can do anything you want in life. Spend your time well, hang out with people that make your life better, and enjoy every moment. Your 30’s will come up sooner than you think.
You only get to do it once, make the most of your twenties!
Get My FREE Success Cheat Sheet
After studying successful people extensively with books, videos, and seminars I've found their habits are what separates them. Check my FREE Success cheatsheet to start implementing these habits into your daily life.
Latest posts by Michael Leonard (see all)
- 6 Inspirational Entrepreneurs To Transform Your Life From Good to Great - April 19, 2018
- What Is Freelance Writing? How to Get Started in 5 Easy Steps - April 17, 2018
- A Goal Setting Worksheet That Will Change Your Life - April 12, 2018