The 6 best money moves to make in your 20s

Money Moves to Make in Your 20s

Whether you're just wrapping things up at college or are pushing forward with your career, you'll need a smart money strategy to count on during some of your biggest life changes.

Your 20s are the perfect time to adopt good money habits that will help you steer clear of credit card debt, help you build a savings account and make financial decisions that give you a high return on your investment.

Behold, the six best money moves you can make in your 20s.

1. Pick Up a Savings Habit

Your income might change significantly as you transition into your first entry-level job or change jobs to further your career. Make sure your savings strategy remains stable no matter what life throws at you. Committing to saving a certain percentage of your income every month – no matter what that income may be – makes it easy to save money with minimal effort. You can even automate this so a set amount comes out of your checking account and deposits directly into your savings account every month.

2. Embrace Your Financial Responsibilities

It can be nerve-wracking to take care of money matters without family support, and making certain financial decisions might cause anxiety. Your 20s are a great time to work through your financial hang-ups and break or prevent any bad habits that will haunt you for the rest of your life. Instead of avoiding paying bills on time, neglecting bills altogether or being so frugal that you aren't enjoying life anymore, look forward to enjoying your hard-earned dollars responsibly while building a healthy financial future.

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3. Make Mindful Money Decisions

You don't have to wait for a financial disaster to open your eyes about where your money is going and what your spending priorities are. Take some time to review your monthly budget by creating a master list of expenses and your income sources. Be as accurate as possible when projecting expenses that fluctuate, such as groceries, entertainment costs and other lifestyle expenses. The goal is to have a baseline amount that you can label as your "cost of living" so you know whether you are living within or beyond your means. Make use of online tools like You Need a Budget for pointers on creating that all-important budget or use the PocketGuard budget app to monitor all of your purchases with a few screen taps.

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20 unusual ways to make quick money
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The 6 best money moves to make in your 20s

Dog-sitting, babysitting, or house-sitting

These jobs are always in high demand, and the best part: you can name your price and create your own schedule! Post an ad on craigslist, or use your friends' and family's connections to get your name out there. 

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Rent out your space 

List your apartment on Airbnb or another rental site, and make some easy cash by staying at a friends and renting out your place for the weekend.

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Share your space

Just as you can rent out your full apartment or house, you can also post a free room (or even just your couch!) on sites like Craigslist or Airbnb. This way you can split your living expenses -- and maybe even make a new friend!

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Sell your body parts

Now here's a weird one: Donate your hair, breast milk, or even plasma for a profit. According to Grifols, if you're healthy and weigh above 110 pounds, you can earn up to $200 a month donating your plasma to life-saving medicine. 

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Sign up to participate in medical tests and clinical trials. 

Universities constantly need volunteers to test new medicines and treatments -- and because the pool of willing participants is limited, there is typically a large compensation for being a guinea pig. 

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Participate in a focus group

Companies and organizations will pay you to join a focus group. These can be conducted in person, online, or via phone. You will most likely be reimbursed in cash or gift cards -- plus, you often get to test out fun new products! 

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Take online surveys

Similar to focus groups, you can get paid to give your time and insights on an online questionairre. Plus, you can do this from the comfort of your couch. 

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Bank on your sperm

Although we don't necessarily recommend this option, there is a very high demand for healthy sperm donors. Keep in mind some of the obvious drawbacks, but sperm donation is non-invasive and highly compensated. 

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Crowdfund your dreams

Crowdfunding allows you to raise monetary contributions from a large group of people who want to support your venture. Post your project or idea on a crowdfund site, like, and see the cash pile up.

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Become a tutor

If you're qualified, post an ad online or on a community board to tutor children on their school courses or for the upcoming SATs.

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Get a part-time job

Capitalize your free time (on the weekends or after work hours) by working a part-time job. A bartender, waiter, or Uber driver are all great options for an additional source of income -- and great tips! 

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Resell tickets

Take this suggestion at your own risk: If you're staying within legal limits, buy tickets low and sell high as an effective way to source additional money. (Just make sure to check your state and local laws first!)

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You can sell anything on the internet these days... including your companionship! Get paid to go on a platonic outing for a few hours and enjoy your afternoon with a new friend. 

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Rent out your parking spot

Make sure to check with your landlord first, but if you have the option to park your own car further away, lend or share your parking space or driveway for the hour, day, or even month! 

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Keep a coin jar 

This one takes patience before a big pay out, but keep a spare jar or drawer for loose change that you usually toss anyway. It will keep it all in one place -- and those quarters do add up! 

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Make something to sell 

If you have a knack for arts & crafts, create jewelry or other handmade gifts to sell on sites filled with other thrifty vendors like Etsy

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Sell items online

This effective strategy requires low effort with a high return. Post photos of your used or non-used items on sites like eBay or Craigslist, and let the bidding begin! 

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Have a yard sale

Sell clutter you've been meaning to get rid of right in your front yard. This simple tactic is convenient, and guarantees a wad of cash right to your pocket.  

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Return past purchases

This tip may seem obvious, but is often overlooked: Take your recently-purchased items that are laying around back to the store for either store credit or a full refund. 

Recycle scrap metal and cans

Collect cans and scrap metal out your own garbage, basement, and street and bring to your local recycler to exchange your findings for money.  

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4. Break Up With Credit Cards

Credit card debt can be one of your biggest sources of anxiety and becoming dependent on credit cards too often or for too long can put you at risk for a serious debt load in a few short years. Break the credit card habit in your 20s so you are only making purchases with money you have at any given time. While it's tempting to open up new lines of credit to take advantage of special offers or defer the full cost of a purchase in hopes of paying off that balance in smaller chunks, you are simply feeding a bad habit. Resist temptation and make purchasing decisions solely based on money you have right here, right now.

5. Do Your Investing Homework

Unless you've been playing the stock market game for several years and have a track record of success, you don't want to throw available savings into a high-risk investment account in hopes of getting rich fast. Take some time to educate yourself on investment accounts and trading options so you can make informed decisions. Start with more conservative investments such as a 401(k) fund to get into the habit of saving for your future.

6. Identify Your List of Splurge-Worthy Purchases

Whether it's a vacation, a new car or furniture for your new place, identify purchases that are out of your budget but worth working toward. Setting some clear savings goals can help you stay motivated to save and actually enjoy the process of working toward something you can splurge on; plus, you can truly budget for splurges with this approach. The key is to determine exactly what those items or experiences are, how badly you want them and what you are willing to do to save for them. This mindset allows you to stop daydreaming and start working for the things you want.

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The 6 best money moves to make in your 20s

Find deals online

If you're unsure of where you want to go, browse sites for online deals. You'll find new places to dine at for a discounted price: win-win! If you do have a particular place in mind, always check their website before you make a reservation. You never know what coupons or special online deals you'll find!

Opt for lunch instead of dinner

Most restaurants have a different menu for lunch hours, which usually include smaller portions and cheaper prices. Also, you're less likely to be tempted to go for that cocktail or glass of wine in the middle of the day, which will save you bucks on your bill. If you don't have a preference of which meal you want to dine out for, lunch is usually your better bet. 

Make an appetizer your entrée

Most restaurants list entrées at steeper prices than appetizers, and often times the portion sizes aren't that much bigger. In fact, appetizers can be just as satisfying. You can also order one or two side dishes and enjoy those as your main meal.

Snack beforehand

Nosh on something light from your kitchen that won't completely spoil your appetite. This way, you'll be less tempted to order larger portions or appetizers which can make your bill much more expensive. 

Take home leftovers

If you don't finish your meal, take home what you didn't eat and eat it the next day for lunch or dinner. You can also order an entrée with the intention to eat half and bring the rest back home--it will cost you more initially, but dividing the cost in half between two meals will save you money in the end.

Split an entrée

If there's something on the menu you really want but the price is way too high, ask if portion sizes are big enough to be shared. You'll end up cutting the price in half.

Find a BYOB restaurant 

If you're planning on drinking alcohol while dining out, places that allow you to bring your own are an easy way to save. You won't get overcharged for drinks that the restaurant serves, and you can spend as much money as you want beforehand when purchasing it. 

Skip alcohol altogether 

A glass (or two) will cost you, especially since restaurants can charge however much they want per drink. Opting to not order alcohol in addition to your food is a big money saver.

Check social media

Many restaurants will offer deals for interacting with them on social media. Something as simple as "liking" their page, "mentioning" them on Instagram or Twitter, or even sharing a post of theirs can result in big discounts.

Ask for separate checks

If you're out to eat with a big group of people, you can end up overpaying when you split the check evenly. Ordering separate checks ensures that everyone pays for exactly what they ordered, instead of having to pick up the bill for someone else's expensive entrée. 


Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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