Smart Investments To Make In Your 20s
Guest post by Holly Whitman
Time is subjective. It might seem like only yesterday when you were dangling on the monkey bars or pumping your legs on a playground swing. At the same time, retirement seems so far in the future. But the golden years can creep up, and, before you know it, it’s time to say good-by to the regular nine-to-five. Will you be prepared? It’s not too early to start investing so you’ll be comfortable and vital. And it’s not all about money…
Many Baby Boomers didn’t invest in the stock market, and, as they reach retirement age, they have little to fall back on. Millennials aren’t doing any better: slightly more than twenty-five percent are active in the stock market. But investing early reaps huge benefits over the long haul. If you don’t know much about the stock market, learn about it online. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Old stand-bys: Amazon.com is involved in both online sales and entertainment. Those are tremendous markets, and Amazon has the profits to prove it. Alphabet, Google’s holding company, has shares in technology, investment and health research businesses that promise growth.
- Up-and-comers: Tesla’s future Model 3 electric vehicle will be affordable for middle class incomes. The company expects significant interest in these cars.
- Your favorites: You like Starbucks and Whole Foods… and so do a lot of other folks. Starbucks’ ethical work culture creates an appealing environment for customers. Whole Foods is on a stable path upwards.
Unsure where to find funds for investment? Start with a budget. Set aside money to put into the market. The capital is probably not going to automatically appear; you have to make it happen. Sacrifices now mean a bigger nest egg later.
But if you do suddenly find yourself with a tidy sum — perhaps through an inheritance — consider investing it. For instance, if you happen to fall heir to a classic car, don’t give in to temptation and get behind the wheel. A ’67 Trans Am that went for less than $3,000 new is now worth over $136,000. Sell it, buy a used Chevy Trailblazer and invest the rest.
To keep earning enough to invest, you have to grow as an employee. Do some self-assessment and see what you need to build:
- It’s possible to have a degree but be deficient in specific job skills. According to ETS (thank them if you took the GRE), American millennials have more trouble with literacy, number and technological skills than many of their global contemporaries. If you find yourself struggling in any of these areas, get training.
Online learning is a quick, easy and affordable way to fill in missing pieces. For instance, take a free class from a top university through Coursera to make up what you’re lacking in business or computer science. Through video tutorials and interactives, GCF Learnfree helps you catch up on software experience, reading and math. Edx presents open access to courses from colleges and universities. Take your pick: marketing, languages, engineering, writing, science and more.
- Communication issues are often problematic. Millennials’ life experience with quick and essentially isolated social media and texting can make personal interactions on the job more difficult. According to one study, 80 percent of human resource directors say it’s hard to find recent graduates with sufficient social and emotional skills for workplace success.
It may be necessary for many millennials to actively seek conversations for practice, especially to improve listening skills. They need to engage in self-reflection, analyzing strengths and weaknesses. It’s also important to show evidence of success but take responsibility for mistakes. A mentor will help identify areas for development and provide feedback.
During your retirement, it won’t be enough to have money. If your health is poor, you won’t have fun spending those proceeds. And it’s harder for millennials. Research indicates that, due to lifestyle and environmental conditions, obesity rates are climbing, even when young people consume the same amount of calories as prior generations. It’s unfair… but you’re not powerless. Live to enjoy all that money you’ve earned. Now’s the time to invest in yourself:
- Get enough sleep. This helps regulate hormones associated with appetite.
- Reduce stress. This also affects hormones that cause weight gain.
- Exercise and eat healthy foods. This is doable. Millennials are already on track, making better meal and fitness choices than earlier generations.
- Don’t smoke. This won’t be much of a problem: compared to their parents, fewer Millennials smoke.
For millennials, the word “investment” needs to be both accessible and comprehensive. Putting savings into the stock market helps financially protect your future. To get to that point, you may need to invest time now to expand your job talents. And don’t neglect the investment in your health. You want to make it safely to retirement, looking forward to the next stage of life.
More on the author:
Holly Whitman is a freelance writer and journalist, originally from the UK but now based in D.C. When not working on articles, she can be found exploring the East Coast's foodie hotspots or curling up with her two cats. Check her out on twitter @hollykwhitman and her blog Only Slightly Biased.