How Twentysomethings Can Start Off on the Right Foot Financially

Navigating the challenges of starting a career, saving money, and more.


[See 10 Smart Ways to Improve Your Budget.]

Do you advise many twentysomethings? How do they get information about managing their money?

The twentysomethings that I'm introduced to are usually through their parents. They're embarrassed to sit down with me because they feel they don't have enough. But the opposite is true—a twentysomething who's the child of the client is a VIP in waiting. Professionals are very, very happy to talk to the children of their clients and to help them along. Net worth is irrelevant at that point.

If your parents don't have a financial planner and you're looking for one of your own, there are also a lot of CFPs and financial planners who are willing to work with young adults. A young planner would be a good choice. A life insurance advisor would be another good choice. Those are relationships that they keep their entire lives, so they're willing to work with somebody in the early days because they're looking for 20-, 30-, 40-year relationships.

When should someone start looking for an advisor?

I would say once they've landed that first position. It's pretty early actually because part of the financial planning process is risk management, and risk management would be protecting yourself against illness, so making sure that you've got disability insurance. In some cases, especially with the entrepreneurs, that's not going to be provided through the traditional workplace.

[See How to Master the Art of Negotiation.]

Anything you'd like to add? Anything we didn't touch on?

I think budgeting is one of the biggest things that young people fail to do.

Why do you think that is?

It just seems like work. But take your time to sit down and create a goal. If I were an athlete, I would have a goal in mind. Tiger Woods has goals. I want to win this golf game. And we need to approach our lives that way. If people approach their lives with a strategy, they'll get further. And budgeting is a very large part of that. So set the goals, make sure they match what you're excited about, and then set a budget to help you achieve those goals.