6 Common Financial Pitfalls Young Professionals Should Avoid

November 9, 2018 | By Mason Roberts

So you just graduated from college and landed a great job, why shouldn't you feel like you can conquer the world? Plus, if you're in your 20s, you're supposed to make mistakes, right? They'll just make you stronger. Worst case scenario, if you're ever in a financial emergency, someone will come to your rescue you. Or will they?

Having this kind of carefree mindset is a mistake. No one ever got anywhere in life by sitting back and waiting for someone to hand it to them. Part of growing up and gaining your own footing in the world is taking responsibility for your finances. That means not waiting for a bail-out from Mom and Dad when you are in a financial jam.

There are options available, including payday loans of up to $255 at Fast Auto & Payday Loans. This is the kind of payday loan that just about anyone could qualify for, making them especially helpful when you are just beginning to establish your credit, need the cash right away, or don’t have access to traditional credit sources. They're always ready to help you avoid making painful, costly mistakes so you can maintain your financial independence and give your friends and family a break from you using them as an ATM. But how do you get truly financially independent in the first place?

If You Fail to Prepare, You’re Preparing to Fail

You've most likely rolled your eyes at anyone who says, "If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail," right? Well, clichés exist for a reason, and this one is especially true when it comes to your finances. Here are a few ways to avoid living paycheck to paycheck.

1. Budget to Find Extra Money

Budgeting-guru Dave Ramsey stresses the importance of "naming every dollar" because if you don't it will go somewhere you didn't plan for. He created tools for "zero-based budgeting" on his website, where he offers step-by-step guidance through the entire process.

On his website, he writes, "When you see that a budget is simply spending your money with intention, you'll actually experience more freedom than before. Many people even say they've found 'extra' money when they created a realistic budget and stick with it."

2. Save to Prepare for the Unexpected

Clark Howard is the host of The Clark Howard Show, who focuses on an audience made up predominately of young people. Howard advises living on half your paycheck. That may hurt now, but you'll be grateful if you have a dental emergency, your car breaks down, or you lose your job.

3. Reduce Debt to End the Vicious Cycle

Maybe you can barely pay for the essentials, let alone put any money towards debt elimination. Remember, as long as you aren't continually racking up more debt, this isn't forever.

Maybe you could get a part-time job, ask for a raise, get lower credit card interest rates, or put an extra $10 per month to paying off your car loan. Do it now so you can live debt-free later.

4. Plan for Retirement Now, Not Later

"Mr. Money Mustache" describes himself as "a thirty-something retiree" who writes predominantly about living frugally. MMM and his wife worked for several years in engineering and computer science jobs before retiring in 2005 and then starting a family. Although he mainly focuses on how to save money, Mr. Money Mustache is a great example of why it's so important to start saving for retirement sooner than later.

Are you saving up for retirement yet? Just putting away $100 every month from the time you turn 20 can mean $36,000 in the bank by the time you’re 50, and that doesn’t even count interest! If your workplace has a 401(k) program, take advantage of it, especially if they match your contributions. You're throwing away free money when you don't. There are several other ways to save for retirement, and it's definitely worth your time to learn more about this important topic by speaking with a financial advisor. In the meantime, here's a handy retirement calculator to help you figure out how much to save for a cushy retirement.

5. Watch Out for Small Purchases

It might be second-nature for you to pay for "the little things" like beverages or Redbox movies without considering how fast these tiny expenses can add up. To make steady progress toward eliminating debt or saving up for something you really want, it is imperative that you keep track of even the smallest of expenditures. Little things over time can mean you have more money for the larger expenses down the road, like a shiny new car or a master's degree.

6. Invest in Yourself to Advance Your Career

It's always important to impress the boss so you can advance at your job, and that’s why investing in yourself is also important. When you invest in yourself, you are working towards creating a better version of you in the here and now as well as the future. This might mean getting into better physical shape, finding a mentor or taking classes that relate to your chosen career field. Some employers will even pay for career development, so why not take full advantage? The future is unwritten and success is yours for the taking!