Being a twenty-something can be both exciting and daunting. One minute you’re a college student and next you’re a young adult trying to navigate the real world.
But how do you do this whole “adulting” thing anyway? You still feel like a kid–despite now having more responsibilities than ever. It isn’t only about knowing how to do your taxes or scheduling your own doctor’s appointments. You also want to use these years to set yourself up for a happy and promising future.
So, here are a few things you can accomplish now to start getting more out of life before hitting the big “three-zero.”
Explore Your Interests
You’ll never have more freedom than you did in your 20s. You were free from the grasp of your parents and could invest in what matters most to you. But as you get older “me time” becomes a rare occasion (unless you make time for it) because more significant responsibilities at work and home take over.
This means you need to explore your interests so that you don’t have regrets later. Take those dance classes. Climb that mountain. Start that blog. There’s no better opportunity than now while you’re most willing and able.
Start Saving for Retirement
When you’re young, retirement feels so far away. But there’s a lot you can do now to give yourself peace of mind as you approach your golden years.
Smart preparation begins with saving EARLY. Thanks to compound interest, putting aside just $20 per week can result in hundreds of thousands collected in a few decades time. Increase that amount by 1% each year as you advance your career, and you might find yourself a millionaire by retirement.
Many full-time employers offer 401(K) retirement savings accounts often with matching contributions, and most banks provide some form of Investment Retirement Account (IRA); both of which offer tax advantages. Micro-investing apps like Acorns and Betterment also offer retirement accounts you can open from your smartphone with as little as $5.
Pay Down Student Loan Debt
If you attended college, then you’re probably carrying at least a decent amount in student loan debt. Recent statistics show that the US is facing nearly $1.5 trillion in national student loan debt with the average amount owed per borrower exceeding $37,000.
Taking too long to pay off student loans can be a significant roadblock to financial success. The longer you wait, the more of your hard-earned money you give away as interest. Wouldn’t you rather have that cash to buy your dream home, take your family on a trip, or save for your future?
The simplest way to do this is by creating a budget you can stick to – one that allows you to throw some extra money on top of your minimum payments yet still allows you to spend modestly on pleasures (nice things are okay now and then).
Alternatively, you can refinance student loans. Common advantages include fewer accounts to maintain, lower minimum payments and lower interest rates so you can pay off your debt faster. Lenders typically offer fixed-term refinancing loans lasting up to 20 years.
Fail at Something
Playing it safe is no longer the only way towards a successful and fulfilling life. Today, risk-takers drive change and innovation. They’re the next Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerburg, and Bill Gates of the world.
Start a new venture. Give your all to that relationship. Face your fear of doing standup comedy. Fall on your face, pick yourself up and try something else.
If you’re not failing at something, you’re not living life to the fullest. Greatness happens along the road of uncertainty. You won’t succeed at everything, but occasionally you’ll strike gold and the lessons learned along the way will help you to grow.
Quit Your Job
Hold on – don’t storm into your boss’s office screaming, “I quit!” just yet. First, have a plan. While it’s essential to obtain valuable career experience in your 20s, it’s also a time to make life changes to benefit your future happiness.
Maybe you’ve checked out at work or were offered your dream job. Perhaps, you want to become an entrepreneur or travel the world for a year. As long as you have a plan to support yourself, there is nothing wrong with leaving your current situation in the pursuit of happiness.
Move to a New City
You’ve dreamt of it: living in a cozy one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side of New York City, dropping everything and moving to Los Angeles to make it, or immersing yourself in the small Italian city and learning how to make homemade pasta. All are valid and possible with the right mindset.
You can look into study abroad programs, apply to jobs across the county, or just pack up everything and figure it out. Your home or college town might be familiar, but there’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored.
Our environments shape who we are, which is even more of a reason to broaden your horizons, meet new people, and immerse yourself in different cultures while you’re young. Whether you decide to stay or return from whence you came, it’s a comforting feeling to be able to call more than one place in the world “home.”