Common Financial Mistakes Young Adults Make

By Eric Tyson

As a young adult dealing with your personal finances, you need to reduce your chances of making common mistakes. Your 20s and 30s are decades where lack of financial knowledge is exposed and reflected in the beginning of costly money mistakes such as

  • Spending excessively and accumulating consumer debt: Too many young adults leave home being experts in spending without having learned much about living within their means and saving and investing. Many things may tempt you — the never-ending stream of gadgets and electronics, cars, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, new clothing, concerts, sporting events, and so on.
  • Defaulting on student loans or other debts: This problem is often the consequence of the preceding problem of spending too much and accumulating too much debt. Being overwhelmed with debt, which may be exacerbated by a job loss or unexpected expenses, can cause folks to fall behind on their student loan or other debt payments. Given the ridiculously high cost of college these days, the amount of student debt that some young graduates have accumulated is also ridiculously large!
  • Experiencing failed relationships that damage your credit rating and financial health: You know what they say about love being blind sometimes, right? Well, one of the things many 20- and 30-somethings don’t think about when in a relationship is how the things they’re doing are going to work out or not work out should the relationship fail. Sharing bank accounts and bill paying may not present glaring problems when everything is going well, but you can quickly end up with a tarnished credit report should your love boat run aground.
  • Falling behind on tax payments and violating tax laws: Filing your annual tax return and making quarterly tax payments if you’re self-employed aren’t enjoyable tasks. In fact, you may find these chores downright intimidating and stressful. But if you fail to complete them correctly, or complete them at all, you could get socked with hefty interest and penalty charges and possibly do some jail time in the worst cases.
  • Making poor investments: You work hard to earn money and then to save it. So you should do your homework to ensure that you invest it well. Don’t rush into making an investment you don’t understand, because you have a lot to lose. There are plenty of slick-talking salesmen who will sell you an investment that helps to line their pockets but not yours. You also don’t want your money sitting around for years on end in a low-interest bank account, which is what often happens to folks who don’t know how to invest.
  • Neglecting to secure proper insurance coverage: Most young people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about risks. After all, most young adults are healthy and energetic. So things like health insurance or disability insurance seem unnecessary and for older folks. The good news is that insurance costs less when you’re younger because you’re less likely to suffer a major illness or disability than someone decades older than you.
  • Being taken and duped by biased and/or shoddy advice: Many companies and people have something to sell. Some of what they’re selling is good stuff, much is mediocre, and some is downright awful. You don’t need to pay high commissions or end up in the wrong type of investments or insurance.