Practical Financial Advice for Young Adults: 11 Simple Tips

Young adults need all the help they can get.

They are inheriting record debt levels and rising inflation, contributing to higher standard of living costs. But instead of focusing on the excuses, focus on the opportunities.

Here are 11 simple tips for those looking for the best financial advice for young adults. Be inspired, and pass it along to a friend.

1. Time is on your side 

The best part of being young is that you have so many years ahead of you. The biggest advantage of investing comes from the power of compounding.

Compounding interest is like a snowball rolling down a hill, it picks up more and more snow until it’s like an unstoppable avalanche.

The average 25 year old who invests $5,000 a year and makes a 10% return would have $2,430,366. That’s a millionaire who didn’t have to start a business or take crazy risks. That’s a millionaire who had a very average income.

Nobody talks about that story because it’s boring. But it’s so possible, especially for the 20 year olds.

What if the average 25 year old above had started at 20 instead of 25? That person would have $3,947,653. That’s almost double, in only 5 years!

The power of time is unparalleled. Don’t ignore it.

2. Debt is Dumb

Mark Cuban, the billionaire who owns the Dallas Mavericks, says the fastest way to get rich is to get out of debt. He couldn’t be more right.

In fact, if you survey millionaires and ask how they became wealthy, you can be sure they won’t give you credit card tricks or secrets.

If you have a basic understanding of math, you can quickly understand why debt keeps you from wealth. When you are in debt, you are paying the lender interest. This interest compounds over time.

Especially if you are only making minimum payments, it seems impossible to crawl out. Investing is the opposite of debt, you risk your capital and are paid interest on this risk.

When you are in debt, you become the one who has to pay interest.

The quicker you learn about the finance world, you’ll soon find out that the interest you pay while in debt is much larger than the interest you can get in investing.

Like a casino, it’s a losers game. Just stay away from it.

3. Cash is King

If you truly want to get wealthy, investing is only part of the game. You must work equally as hard to increase your income.

Investing is only part of the equation. You need money to make money.

The truth is investing alone won’t make you a millionaire. You have to have an adequate income and be invested in safe securities.

Increasing your income is the only way to accelerate the process to wealth.

Why do you think most of the wealthy are entrepreneurs and small business owners? Because when you give yourself the chance to earn more, you can earn more. You give yourself the ability to leverage skills and hard work to make more money.

The type of economy in this country only gives you more opportunity to succeed this way. With all the technology unlocking vast opportunities for budding entrepreneurs, there’s really no excuse for those who want it bad enough.

Cash is king. The best way to get more cash into your life is to find ways to increase your income stream.

Then, you can make your money work for you.

4. There’s No Free Lunch in Finance

Unfortunately, Wall Street is not filled with people who have your best interests in mind.

As sad as it is, most people in the investing world have something to sell you.

You have to be able to filter out the people who are truly trying to help you from those who just want you to buy their products.

Take someone who sells survival supplies for example.

What kind of information would that person give you? Well, it would probably be very biased, towards things that make you scared. Specifically, scared of an apocalypse.

There’s a ton of doom and gloom-ers out there that are ready to make a quick buck off you. The information they will share to you is only in their best interests.

Why? Because it scares you. And makes you buy stuff.

Plenty of Wall Street sharks are out there pushing their products. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good guys too.

But you have to know who is giving you biased information and who is giving you unbiased information. Once you understand what that person’s motives are, you can start to decide whether to trust them or not.

5. Investing means buying a business, not a stock

It seems like Wall Street has turned into a game, with tickers flying around on CNBC, reminding us of SportsCenter.

They make us feel like you have to be connected at all times, as if you need to know the latest market price every second of the day.

But really smart investors like Warren Buffett know that this is a fool’s game. A guy like Warren Buffett buys businesses for the long term.

Notice the wording I used there. Not stocks, but businesses.

Because that’s really what you are doing. A stock is nothing more than a piece of ownership in a business.

So when you are evaluating possible investments, be sure to evaluate your purchase as if you were buying the whole business upright.

It shouldn’t matter to you what happens in the next month or two, because you are going to be part owner of this business for a long foreseeable future.

If you want to learn how to evaluate a business, look to value investing. We’ve written many articles about it on this site, and have recommended some great books about it too.

Don’t delay, get started now.

6. Listen to books not crooks

Want to know a little secret about books? I’ll tell you.

If you want to find the best books in investing, look for the oldest ones.

Why? The oldest books are the ones who have stood the test of time. A bestselling book that was a bestseller 50 years ago is much more likely to be helpful than a book that just recently became a bestseller.

People wouldn’t be recommending that book unless it really helped them. The fact that it has been so popular for so many decades means that the principles in that book are timeless.

A good book like this will have helped people before, and had continued helping them all along. That’s the only reason why it is still a bestseller.

When you buy a book that is a recent bestseller, you take a chance on whether the information is really quality or not.

It should be obvious why you should listen to books not crooks.

In fact, as a person who has been intensely studying everything I can about investing, I’ll say that books have been my #1 best resource. By far.

There’s too much junk out there about investing. There’s also so much great information in books, yet too many people are too impatient to realize this.

7. Respect history. It may not repeat, but it often rhymes

Read any ancient story about the fall of man or the fall of empires. They’ve all happened the same way. Really nothing has changed, except the characters.

Human beings are just very predictable.

We all share the same vices, struggles, virtues, and emotions. Everyone from the ancient Roman times to the present has experienced the same human condition.

Nothing is really new in this world.

Perhaps one of the most groundbreaking things I’ve ever learned about investing was that it follows a predictable boom and bust cycle. Predictable in the sense that you know it will always happen, you just don’t know when.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that stock market crashes are a new thing.

Markets have been crashing since the beginning of time. They form a bubble and then they crash. It’s just a part of life.

It’s because man is inherently fearful and greedy. There’s nothing you can do to change that.

Mistakes in money have been made before. There is a way to learn those mistakes instead of making them. But you have to put in the effort.

8. Your mortgage is NOT an investment. Make saving and investing a priority too.

This is a common misconception. Many smart people believe that their home is an investment. They see their home value go up, and think that this makes them more wealthy.

Some even use their increasing home value as a creative way to get into more debt. They “tap into their equity”, basically borrowing against their home. They assume their home will keep going up in value, like it has in the past.

Like we saw in the housing crash of 2008, this isn’t always true.

Most real estate in America is highly correlated. What this means is that when home values move up or down, they tend to move together.

So what does this have to do with your primary home being an investment or not?

Well, a lot, actually.

Because real estate is highly correlated, when your home value is rising, that means your neighbor’s is likely rising as well. And so is the rest of the country’s.

While your home may be worth more, so is all the other real estate around you.

You won’t get the money from your increasing home value until you sell it. Once you sell the home, you have to move somewhere else.

Since your home value has gone up, most likely other homes have also. Selling your home means you probably will buy a new home somewhere else.

And so all the increase in home value you’ve seen will be offset by the new home’s increase also.

This is why your primary residence should not be your only investment.

Look to make other great investments, such as through the stock market in your IRA or 401k. The stock market gives investors great returns over the long term, and it doesn’t pin you down to a location like real estate does.

9. There’s no magic pill, stop looking for it

Everybody wants the shortcut to everything. Weight loss, riches, love. Anyone with a bit of wisdom knows that this stuff just doesn’t happen quickly.

Grand stories of magic pill solutions are just fairy tales. Fairy tales and marketing hype.

If you can do yourself one favor, get rid of your lottery mindset. Stop thinking that there’s magical gold you can just dig for and find. Stop depending on luck.

This kind of hope is the one kind of hope that I don’t want you to have. This type of hope is destructive. It takes away all of your personal responsibility.

It seems that our country is heading towards this pipe dream as a legitimate plan. I wish this wasn’t the case but it seems to be true. An increasing number of Americans are eager for handouts and magic pills.

This is a victim mentality. All it will get you is broke.

10. Save, don’t spend

Nobody likes to hear this. A bit of good ol’ fashioned advice.

Money expert Dave Ramsey can attest to this. Listen to his podcast for some ideas on how you can spend less and save more.

The guy knows a thing or two about getting people to wealth. He’s helped millions of people get out of debt and onto financial freedom.

You can learn all you can in the world about investing but until you get your financial house in order, you’ll never make progress towards getting wealthy.

Wealth is half offense and half defense. Investing is the offense and personal finance is the defense.

Good defense wins championships.

11. Discipline is more important than talent

The stock market is a great equalizer. It doesn’t matter how good looking you are, how smart you are, who your parents are, how athletic you are, or how creative you are.

When I own the same stock as you do, I have the exact same chance to make the same return as you do. Wealthy investors and average investors are subject to the same returns. Different overall amounts, sure, but same percentages.

In this highly competitive world, there is a game where the winners aren’t pre-selected. They work hard, research hard, and are rewarded handsomely. You don’t need Wall Street’s permission to join in the profits.

You can do anything you set your mind to.

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