Money mistakes people in their 20s make

See how you can work around common money traps so you've got cash today, tomorrow and in the future.

In your 20s, you might be saving for an overseas trip, eyeing a new car, looking for your own pad, or simply trying to keep your wardrobe up-to-date, and have cash left over for Saturday night.

While you mull things over, it’s worth giving some thought to how what you spend today could also impact you later on—especially with one in four Aussie households experiencing financial stress.1

Misdemeanours worth avoiding

Going without a budget

Budgeting might sound too much like hard work, but knowing what you earn, owe and spend can give you control over your money, and let you quickly identify areas where you could be saving.

Using your credit card for everything

Credit cards can be convenient but they’re often more expensive than other forms of credit as they usually have higher interest rates, plus people tend to spend more than if they’re just using cash.2

Whenever you don’t pay your balance in full for the month, interest is also payable—and that includes when you only pay the minimum amount owing. Check out our tips on how to stay on top of things.

Keeping up with the Joneses

The pressure to stay up-to-date with your peers and even celebrity icons can be a subconscious motivation behind a number of poor financial decisions.

Try to live within your means and stick to realistic goals.

Borrowing money from friends and family

When you’re in a bind, while you may be tempted to ask for a hand-out, it can put strain on relationships, particularly if it becomes a regular occurrence.

The person may need the money back quickly, begin judging your spending habits, or worse—end the friendship if they don’t get the money back.

Buying an expensive car

The average household in Australia is currently juggling car debt of $19,500.3 The purchase price of a new car is one thing, but the added costs are another.

ASIC’s new mobile phone app MoneySmart Cars can help you work out the overall costs.

Pursuing higher education without a plan

According to AMP.NATSEM research, estimated lifetime earnings for those with degrees are, on average, higher than those who don’t go beyond year 11.

However, if you’re considering further education, ask yourself whether the field you want to enter is the right one for you. The average debt for a tertiary student in Australia is about $17,500.4

Quitting your job on a whim

You may not like where you work but if you’re planning your exit march, it’s wise to have another gig lined up as it could be months before you find another opportunity and have cash coming in.

If it’s your current pay cheque that’s got you twisted, see our nine-point plan for asking for a pay rise.

Not prioritising your goals                                                                          

The benefits of thinking long term when it comes to your goals are pretty clear. For instance, buying a car, going on holiday and moving into a new apartment all within a six month period mightn’t be financially viable. Our online tool can help you prioritise and create your own goals timeline.

Foregoing an emergency fund

One in eight Australians don’t have enough money set aside to cover even a $100 emergency.5 And, you don’t want a busted phone or car tyre leaving you financially stranded.

An emergency fund can give you peace of mind and reduce the need to rely on high interest borrowing options. See our pointers on how to set one up.

Avoiding the money talk with your partner

It’s not nice to think about, but disagreements about money is a major cause of divorce in Australia.6

So, before you set up joint accounts or move in together, address how you’ll both contribute. If you’re moving in together, it’s also worth knowing what happens to your finances if you split with a de facto.

Spending a fortune on the wedding

The average Australian wedding today costs around $36,200, and 35% blow their budget.7

To avoid a wedding budget blowout, start saving, talk to your partner—and parents if they’re involved—create a budget, get quotes, and look at how many and who’ll be on your guest list early on.

Being blasé about insurance

It’s estimated that at least one in five Australians will be incapable of working at some point.8

While you may choose to go without insurance to save money, for many Australians insurance is affordable and can be paid via monthly premiums or your super, which is where more than 70% of Australian life insurance policies are held currently.9

Choosing a property that's not within your means

Whether you’re renting or buying it’s important to think about the upfront and ongoing costs involved, and the location you’re looking at as different suburbs come with different price tags.

If home ownership is on the cards, get a full run-down of the costs you’re likely to come across.

Not caring about your super

It might seem like a lifetime away but with many Australians looking at a retirement of 30 years or more—and the Age Pension alone unlikely to be enough10, putting money into super is worth thinking about while you still have time on your side.

More information

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to the short and long term, but the good thing is doing a little bit now can make a big difference down the track. For more tips, follow us on Facebook.

Budget planner calculator

Use our Budget planner calculator to assess your current financial position and how much you may be able to invest. 

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Explore your goals

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Manage your money the smart way

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It’s important to consider your particular circumstances and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before deciding what’s right for you. This information hasn’t taken your circumstances into account.

This information is provided by AMP Life Limited. Read our Financial Services Guide for information about our services, including the fees and other benefits that AMP companies and their representatives may receive in relation to products and services provided to you. All information on this website is subject to change without notice.