Start investing in 20s. Make it your number one priority in life. No one will take care of you if you fail to take care of yourself once you become an adult. Granted, you can fall back upon your parents but make intelligent decisions, be independent and succeed as an adult.
So, let me share my views on how to invest in your young adult stage of life. Investing in 20s is the toughest thing to do. You generally lack both resources (money) and knowledge. Pressure to keep up with joneses in your school or work is real.
Test the waters with small amount to get started. Don’t keep thinking or wishing to invest. Rather take action, invest and own responsibility for your actions.
My Brief Story of Starting To Invest In 20s
I had to learn everything on my own. My routine was to finish the day job and then come and read finance blogs in the night. Having a student loan to tackle early in my life instilled the money discipline in me.
I hated so much to pay back the interest which the banks were charging. I even think of doing this to my kid (not even married right now), to get the discipline with money and investing.
My savings rate has always been high since my first job earnings in early 20s. Saving is a natural habit that comes to me because of my upbringing. My parents are really good with money and I just take a leaf out of their book.
Additionally, I used to read finance blogs and think if only I could invest all this money rather than giving the bank away the principal and interest every month. So you can understand that there was a natural love for investing and compounding money so I could pay the bank and become debt free faster.
Where To Take Your Early Investing Advice?
I took my investment advice from various bloggers and Youtube personalities. Finally, I started reading a lot of books on financial independence and got hooked to the concept owning my own time and freedom.
I never go all in and diversify to have a softer landing even if shit hits the fan. I always invest into new things by just investing a hundred dollar, getting my feet wet and see if there is potential for it to be a true income source. An average millionaire has at least 7 different income sources. I want to become one. How about you?
Now, with 6 years of consistent investing and no major loss in any investment, I can confidently say I have the investing expertise. Every investment becomes good or bad with hindsight bias. But, you need to take instant and informed decisions, to succeed in life.
The only right thing you need to do in your life, like me, is
START INVESTING IN EARLY 20s, RIGHT AFTER GETTING THE FIRST JOB!
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The problem with people is they think too much and take no action. Oh, if I start this, it could lead me into a big loss. The best tip is to get started investing in your 20s by keeping it simple and make investing easy.
So let’s not delay your knowledge search. Please read on to know more…..
Why Should You Begin Investing In Your 20s?
I’m not sure if you will believe or not, but the most returns from investment actually happens due to time. You would have heard the cliched term “Money in the market is more important than timing the market”. It is actually true to an extent. The time factor of money is due to the magic done by compounding. Thus, it is rightly coined as the eighth wonder of the world.
If you know what you’re doing, you can hit a multi-bagger stock with market timing or buy the right cryptocurrency at the right time just before it pumps and amass a ton of money. But, this is not for everyone. We are talking about the majority of people who don’t live by those lucky circumstances.
So, the easiest way to put your money to compound is using time to your favor. Leverage your free time in your young adult age to the fullest and learn a lot of things. Putting time to best use and making your first few investment moves in your 20s makes the path easier over time.
Let us get it clear with an example of a 25-year-old who invests $100 a month in a Roth IRA for 40 years and earns a 12 percent (hypothetical) annual return. When that person retires at age 65, their investment will be worth just over $1 million. If the same person were to start investing $100 per month at age 35, they’d only have around $300,000 by the time they reached 65. Those 10 years of not investing cost you $700,000 when you retire. Understand the time value of money and start investing in your early 20s.
Give Priority To Investing In Your 20s
I definitely know in early 20s, you will not have a lot of surplus amount (savings) to be invested into various assets classes. You must develop the habit to put your excesses, however little it may be, towards investing in your 20s.
In my really early 20s, I was barely scraping through life, after the student loan monthly payments. Even then, I used to have a regular small amount of money, that needs to go into the investing bucket.
Smart investment decisions + Consistent investing = Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE)
So, get your feet wet with however small amount you have, to get the hang of investing habit. Then, start reading about other things and how you can move the profits from one investment to diversify. You need to keep finding new avenues of investment and that’ll keep you busy. More than anything, this is the time to build discipline in investing.
The time to pause and think comes if you’ve already allocated existing investment to maximize return and minimize risk. Maximize the investment choices you already have. It is easier to concentrate on one thing at one instance.
Investing In Yourself
The greatest investment one should make is in oneself. If you take care of yourself and improve yourselves, then everything will be taken care of. Investing can’t be any more easy than investing in yourself.
Make sure your 9 to 5 day job income, will be your primary seed funding. This makes it easier to start investing smartly in your 20s. Be careful with your seed money, as this sets your path to a posh future. Don’t get settled into the job. Keep thinking if you are doing good for yourself and if there is a way to optimize.
You need to jump into all training opportunity that your employer can provide for free. What other monetary benefits do your employer offers? Take advantage of 401K with employer match, max out your HSA and also take those entrepreneurial grants for research.
Learn on the job to make your business successful eventually. I have the opportunity to learn so much on how to launch successful product with great marketing campaigns. You get paid to do the job, there’s no cost for you and you gain the ultimate business expertise. So, building up knowledge and expertise in your early 20s is the best way to invest in yourself. This path will set you up for success in 30s or 40s.
You might also want to start thinking early about your side hustle, so you don’t have to depend on your day job for all your income. Worse, even if we are in bad recession, like the one we are in right now in the middle of Covid pandemic, you know you will have a backup source(s) of income with your side hustle(s).
Understand what you can dominate to make a good living. Find out what you are good at. Then, put in the time and effort to be great at that skill. Continuously repeat it and see it replace your main income in a few years. When the flippening happens, you know you can make more from your investing than in your day job.
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Pay off Debt With High Interest Rate
Paying high interest debt is the secret to smart investing in your 20s. You’re investing in closing out your debt. You need to hate debt in order to get rid of them quickly. It’s the no-brainer to progress towards a posh future.
What is the worst high interest debt every one has? Yes, I’m talking about keeping balances on your credit card and paying 22% APR on the debt.
WalletHub‘s data in 2020 shows the credit card average interest Annual Percentage Rate is around 18.6%. Most of my credit cards have an APR of 22% even though I have excellent credit and have never paid interest on my credit anytime.
NerdWallet’s data from 2019 shows that average US household owes $6,591 in Credit Card revolving debt and the whole of US has an average of $438.8M in debt.
If you can get more than 22%, then you can invest rather than paying off your debt. But, even smart hedge fund managers seldom realize returns over 22%. Even if by luck, you achieve it in one year, know that it will not be consistent over a long time.
By smartly attacking your high interest debt, your return opportunity is huge. Paying off your credit card debt faster is one of the best investments you can make in your 20’s.
Build Emergency Fund
To make investing easy, the third investment priority is building an emergency fund. Why? You know, life always has certain surprises waiting for you. You need to weather them as and when they happen to you
People lose their jobs without notice (think of Covid pandemic creating record high unemployment rates. Health issues can come up and accidents occur. Also, cars breakdown and can need costly repairs. You could suddenly face a lawsuit out of the blue.
One rule of thumb is to save 3-6 months of living expenses. Set this money aside in a risk-free high-interest savings account. Doctor of Credit maintains the best resource on this.
Start with the low goal of 3 to 6 months but slowly increase it to 12 months when you are in your mid 20s. Increase it to 24 months when you start a family. You lose nothing by being defensive and taking minimal risk and improving your chance of success. Thus, saving for a rainy day is important but also saving to sustain long enough periods without income is important.
This is a set it up and forget method. You don’t intend to touch that money unless you have an emergency.
401K Retirement Investment
Take advantage of what your employer offers or partly sponsors in terms of a retirement investment plan. The regular plans available are 401K plans or 403B plans for residents in the US.
The main trump card with the 401K retirement investment is that money goes in before taxes are deducted. If you are in your 20s, investing pre-tax amount is a huge advantage and deferring taxes to later is crucial. You have a huge head start over others who procrastinate their investment decision.
For instance, if you start investing $1000 and assuming you are in the 24% federal tax group, then you get to defer a tax amount of $240. Your $1000 investment actual cost is only $760 from your side and the rest comes from the potential $240 taxes you pay otherwise. Thus, by investing in your 20s into 401K, you extend your cash flow and still invest before even you get your paycheck.
Another good thing with 401K is your taxes are in deferral mode until you take distributions in retirement or when RMD kicks in. All the gains in your investments works for you and nothing goes to the government at this point. As with our discussion in the first point in the post, leverage time in the market. Compounding works in your favor. Finally, you pay no taxes immediately and enjoy the growth in your portfolio.
At last, many employers actually match your contributions to a certain level and up to a certain % of investment. My company does employer match of 50% of my investment into 401K, with a max of 6% of my base pay. This is free money from your employer towards your retirement. You need to at least invest enough to just take whatever they offer to match.
This is almost always baked in to your compensation package. You leave money on the table if you don’t use it.
Fund a Roth IRA Account
Company’s retirement plan generally has limitations that stipulates the amount you can contribute to your 401K retirement investment in a year. IRS sends a notification every year on how can be saved in 401K. Are you maxing out your company sponsored retirement investment plan? Don’t worry, you still have more options to start investing in your 20s.
You may want to open a ROTH IRA account. Not everyone qualifies. If you are a high earner, you can’t make a direct investment into Roth IRA. But, you can use other strategies like Backdoor Roth contribution.
In Roth IRA, you make your investment contribution from the post tax amount. Since you have already paid tax on it, you never have to pay tax on your investment growth or on the dividends received. Roth IRA has no tax during withdrawal or distributions in retirement too. 100% of what is in your Roth IRA is all yours. So, investing in a Roth IRA in your 20s is a great option to maximize your retirement benefit.
In Tax year 2020, you are able to invest $6,000 in your Roth IRA account, if you satisfy the income limits for the year.
There are more complicated strategies that you can undertake like Backdoor Roth and Mega Backdoor Roth strategies. I will write separate articles and link them here in the future.
Health Savings Account – HSA
Health Savings Account opens up an investment angle with your health insurance account in your 20s. You are generally healthier at a young age and you can opt for a large deductible plan in your health insurance. Choosing this will open up the option of a HSA where you can invest your money.
Since this plan has a large deductible, naturally your monthly insurance premiums will be lower. You are basically self insuring yourself based on your low probability of a hospital visit at young adult stage. Make sure your emergency fund is extended to 1 year of expenses before you start investing into HSA.
Most companies generally have one large deductible insurance plan. Similar to 401K, money goes in before taxes are taken out. The growth in your investment is not taxable. In the end, you don’t have to pay taxes if you spend the money on legitimate healthcare bills.
That’s a free lunch! Grab ’em before you consider the rest of the tips.
Plan to Buy Primary Residence In Your Late 20s
Disclaimer : I’m in my mid 20s and haven’t bought yet because of the peak in real estate markets. I have instead invested in Cryptocurrencies at their lows in 2018 and 2019 bear market.
The house that you buy to reside is not an investment. Do not keep checking how much it is appreciating. It gives you peace of mind, that even if everything else goes wrong, you still have a roof over your head. Plan to get your primary residence only when you can afford 20% equity. Don’t pay the Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) if you have an option. Otherwise, go for the lower downpayment options like FHA, if you qualify.
In your 20s, buying a small townhouse or condo in an affordable area may be your goal. Don’t stretch yourself and go for single family homes over a million dollars unless you can afford it. As and when you pay back, your equity in the house increases.
Every mortgage payment that you pay gradually reduces your interest payment and pays more of the principal. That’s how you gain equity. There are huge tax benefits associated with home ownership with mortgage. You can read them here until I write my own article.
Think deeply first if owning a house is your right option. Don’t buy because everyone else is buying. You need to be ready to cough up money for mandatory repairs and timely renovations. Also, don’t forget HOA fee if you’re looking for a town house or Condo. Real estate is the most illiquid investment option. So, Look before you leap. Make sure you have enough saved up before making the decision.
Investing In Stock Market
You are young and you have a high risk appetite. Retirement is far away. The return on investment is going to better than inflation if you choose to invest in stocks.
You are a highly responsible young adult, if you start investing in stock market in your early 20s. I don’t have the statistics but not many do what you do. So, take a little pat on the back and continue! Investing is something you naturally like. You are just about to open a ton of opportunities in life by aggressively investing in your 20s.
Finally, fill some easy steps online to create a brokerage account to invest. Stocks are the representation of ownership of a company in a digital securities format within your brokerage account. Most of the services are free in online only new age brokerage companies. Check comparisons on Robinhood vs M1 Finance vs Webull and see which one works for you.
After you create an account, play with demo account and see how much profits you make. Adjust and refine your strategy to make more profits. Once you are comfortable, venture in the real trading market.
Learn to read technical analysis on charts and understand how news follows the charts. Above all, this gives a chance to see if you are into this trader life style. Only 10% of traders make the most money, so understand the risk and sharpen your strategy to get good gains.
If you think trading increases your blood pressure and not good for your mental health, then consider long term investing. This is more like set and forget method. Buy at low and sell at high. But, in between, don’t keep making this investment mistake.
Invest in Cryptocurrencies
If you are young and an aggressive investor who believes in high risk and high reward, then invest in cryptocurrencies. I recommend investing atleast 1% of your portfolio in cryptocurrencies to get your feet wet. Investing in 20s helps you aim for those high rewards and even if it goes to zero, it doesn’t affect your retirement in any way.
Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile and you need to have a strong stomach if you get punched in your gut. This is a wildcard to your early retirement if you don’t get bogged down by short term volatility and invest for the long term.
Invest small, understand the markets, earn profits and then slowly increase your investment. I’ve been in the space for 5 years and have learnt a lot. Leave a comment if you have invested in Cryptocurrencies as well.
Final Tips – Keep Investing In Your 20s
Here’s a quick TLDR of the post, since I’ve thrown a lot your way. Investing in 20s is the most important thing to get your life set for safe retirement. Now, go make a checklist with these action items and accomplish them one by one
- Investing in oneself is important
- Pay off debt with high interest rate
- Construct a rainy day fund
- Max out your company’s 401K retirement plan
- Try to max out $6K in Roth IRA account, if you are within stipulated income limits
- Invest in health savings account and pay no tax for legitimate healthcare expenses
- Plan to buy primary residence in late 20s
- Investing in stocks and achieving inflation beating returns is necessary
- Allocate a small portion of your assets to invest in new solid asset classes like Cryptocurrencies (understand the risk before you start)
Alright, done with this, what next? Head over to start your journey towards Financial Freedom
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I am a data analyst by profession who loves to crunch numbers at daytime and come home wondering how my passive income numbers for the day look like. I believe in being rich rather than looking rich. Follow me for Cryptocurrency, FIRE, Personal Finance, Credit Cards and Digital Nomad updates