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Between the ages of 20 and 30, there are plenty of major life changes that occur. For many, these changes are graduating from college, finding a career, getting married, and starting a family. Having an understanding of your personal finances is required for each of these life changes. Here’s some advice on how to navigate your finances in your 20s.

Maximizing Your Income
Entry-level jobs right out of college most likely won’t land you a salary you’ve been dreaming of all throughout undergrad. Instead of living paycheck to paycheck, start a side hustle. A part-time job that allows you to pick up a few hours of work on weeknights and weekends can really make a difference when it comes to saving money. Use your day job to pay the bills and start a savings account and use money from your side gig for all the fun.

Save, Save, Save
If you want to begin saving money, figure out what exactly it is that you’re saving towards. Having a goal in mind creates a mental strength that will help you stay intentional with your savings. Before you spend your savings, make sure you’ll still have enough put away for emergencies. A good rule of thumb is to have enough put away to get you through three to six months of unemployment.

Map Out Your Expenses
Creating a budget nowadays is easier than ever with access to a smartphone. Tracking all your spending can give you a better idea of where your money is going and what can be reduced in the future. You’ll also want to keep track of your debt in your budget. Paying off your debt as soon as possible will save you from wasting your money on interest.

Invest Your Money
Relying on the interest accrual of just your savings account won’t give you a large ROI. Let your money make you money by investing it in the stock market. If you’re not sure how to begin the investing process, index funds may be a great place to start. Negative fluctuation in the stock market won’t harm you as much if you spread your money across many different companies. Just remember, investing is not a silver bullet to being rich, it’s a long-term game that will eventually pay off as long as you’re willing to be patient.

Improve Your Credit Score
If you haven’t begun building your credit, start right now! Having good credit will help you get a loan for a car or take out a mortgage for your first home. Establish good credit by signing up for a credit card and paying it off each month in full, with no late or missed payments. Credit also looks at your overall history of payment so try not to default on any bills or purchases that are in your name. FICO scores are the most well-known credit scores and what most lending companies will look at. A score of above 700 is considered good but having your credit between 800-850 is excellent.