15 Money Things Young Adults Overlook That Matter

15 Money Things Young Adults Overlook That Matter

I don’t think I need to tell you how cool it is to be able to live on your own, have your own money and eat only ice cream for dinner. Plus, it’s not just the addition of freedom but the disappearance of grades and other scholarly responsibilities. But what about after the college bell rings? Term papers are a thing of the past, no one is going to miss those. But you might be missing something that’s more important. Here is a list of common [money] things young adults overlook.

I have been observing Reddit lately for fun. Reddit has a sizable portion of early 20-somethings and after a while a lot of the posts sort of repeat itself. Different characters with similar stories and similar concerns. Some of the centralized issues and conflicts seem preventable but easily overlooked. I wanted to attack some of the things at the core because I recall overlooking the same exact things myself. 

Financial tips for young adults:

1. Don’t tick off mom & dad

Our generation’s problem? We all tried to grow up way too fast. Parents are the greatest resource a person has in this world and although we are no longer children it shouldn’t mean our parents will be playing a smaller role in our lives. In fact, this is the time our parents are probably the most helpful. Young adulthood is not a good time to ignore the advice of the elders. Parents, more often than not, have their children’s best interest in mind. OK, they can sometimes be bad at showing it in a conductive manner but ya know, love makes a person crazy.

This adulthood thing is not easy. We need mom and dad to get a good interest rate on a loan or just bunker down with them until things pick up. They are the ultimate backup plan if all else fails and you love them. OK?

2. Mentally SUBTRACT by 30%

That’s what I do and it’s as depressing as puppies left on the roadside, but it works. Your dollar doesn’t take you very far and even if your tax bracket is prorated you’re still dealing with sales tax and state tax as it applies. Just knock off 30%. If you make $10/hr, it’s really $7/hr.

3. Don’t put off debt

Debt is one of those things that can easily grow out of control without keeping enough vigilance. The Groovies had a recent guest feature that highlights the danger of compound interest when it’s working against you. Compound interest can be your best friend or your worst financial nightmare so let’s put a hand up to our hearts and make a promise to log in and check whatever is owed – – and start killing it.

4. Consider opportunity cost

This is one of these things where you have to pick your battles. Everything comes with an opportunity cost. Even if you’re young. Opportunity cost is the price of a choice under a particular circumstance where you can only select one and they are in no way mutually inclusive.

T’was a bitter day when I learned you can lose double time. Darn economics. My life was faintly simpler and much less effective before I met you! 😂

5. Don’t get anything you need to feed

When I was 16 I was so excited about growing up just so I could 1. get my own apartment and 2. a dog. Nope, don’t do it. It’s hard. It’s already hard enough to get an affordable apartment with just you, much less one that allows pets. Plus, they usually come with monthly fees and/or nonrefundable deposits.

What about fish?
Fishes are decorations that we’d have to clean and feed honey.

6. Sell/donate everything you left at your mom’s

When we move out and leave things behind at mom’s, that’s naturally indicative of what we really don’t need.


Shh Shh, listen. If you left it behind = you didn’t need it. It’s not because you just needed some money before you can afford to rent a storage unit. You don’t need it. Also, don’t ever pay for a storage unit.

Case #1: we fly back to Northern California every Christmas and Jared’s mom always reminds him to take some of his stuff back to Seattle. That poor woman has been asking for 5 Christmases now and we have moved back maybe 2 boxes out of…20? It like neither of us wants to admit it’s junk. We don’t actually want it but it’s hard to find time to sort and deal with it when we’re stuffing our faces and opening presents. Thankfully mom and dad have a 3 car garage of which all happy childhood memories are stored.

Next Christmas, I’m taking my own advice and clearing out that stuff! I’ll go through those boxes and donate it. It’s mostly Ninja Turtle & Pokémon toys anyways but it might be worth a chunk of change to someone else.

There are 100 packs of Costco photos with this little guy. Still not enough to document my angelic baby hubby! 😌

7. Buy stretchy pants

Don’t look at me like that! I’m being realistic. We are probably not going to get smaller, horizontally. The older I get the more I appreciate my sweatpants haha. Clothes are monetarily a dead resource so buy something that’s breathable.

I dug my mom’s muumuu out of somewhere and started wearing it because it was so comfortable. My mom laughed her head off when she first saw me with it on. Apparently, that’s all she wore when she was pregnant with me for the same reason.

Mom: “上次我穿着你在我肚子里!” / “Last time I wore that YOU were in my belly!”


8. Calculate your monthly savings rate

It doesn’t matter what we make or how much we save. I just know if I knew my savings rate when I was 19 – I would have been a lot smarter with my money. The goal now is to knows where we are and where we want to be. Saving rates are good eye-openers.

P.S. saving rate should be monthly but you should budget bi-weekly so it’s not an avalanche of information at the end of the month.


9. Car Insurance is more expensive for the young

Discriminatory bums. Kidding! 🙂 It makes good sense. The data shows young drivers get into more accidents on average compared to older drivers. The basic breakdown goes:

  • Age 23: $2,602 – $4,020
  • Age 24: $2,590 – $3,474
  • Age 25: $2,190 – $2,958

The rates go down if you live in a small town and/or if you’re a homeowner.1 If you’re young and you can walk, run, bike or bus to work – you can save a lot of money by going car-free. We live car-free and it’s not always glamorous but we’re saving.


10. Get an email signature

You know how I know this is good advice? I know because I thought it was bad advice before and ignored it. Now I’m a little older and I completely regret not taking two minutes to make an email signature. A signature just makes everything more professional. There’s an air of authority around it even if it’s just ‘assistant manager to the assistant regional branch manager at Foot Locker.’ Think of it like “I have a life. Look at all the stuff I’m up to.”


A good email signature2 has all your professional websites / LinkedIn / position uploaded but should have none of the above ^ 😂

You can get a free signature from Wisestamps.

A tip to go with your email signature — when sending an email with a resume for a job, create the message in Word. Enlarge the font, run spell check and proof it 3 times. You’ll catch mistakes like using “their” for “there” and missing words altogether. Fix the text in Word and copy it into the body of your email. – Mrs.G


11. Find a frugal partner

This is so important I can’t even begin. I would do an interpretive DANCE about the effect of money on a relationship but you can’t see me. Do you know how much relationship advice I dough out that is based on essentially an argument about money? This should be #1 on the list of preferences for potential mates. I’m not a believer in romance or courtship. I believe in what’s practical and money is very practical especially if there’s a chance you will be sharing a roof with the person for the rest of your natural life.

Case #3: She wants a nicer apartment because, for 2 people in their mid-30s who has decent money, they shouldn’t have to live like college students. But he doesn’t want to toss money on a rental apartment – he wants a better retirement than a better apartment.


12. Balance your smartphone apps to 50/50 leisure and practical uses

There is absolutely nothing wrong with leisure apps like Snapchat or Instagram but it would be nice if we kept track of the apps based on less what Kim K is up to and more brain food. Some practical apps are Google drive, library (in Seattle they partnered up with Overdrive)/Kindle, dictionary, language app. budgeting app, and financial apps (Bloomberg, SeekingAlpha, Robinhood etc.)


13. Libraries still exist and ARE awesome

Things in life are rarely free and this is not free. Your taxes are paying for it so you should definitely use it. Remember the 30% pay you cut out? That’s the tip you pay for services like libraries and buses and playgrounds. Take advantage of those things! I’m all for knowledge but I’m not willing to fork $10 for a piece of bad fiction (I’m picky). I don’t want nerdy buyer’s remorse.


14. You can push the expiration date on some things

Not everything but most things. Not milk but yes to cereal. When I go to the store I check the discount meat rack and the discount bakery rack. Frugal or cheap depends on how you land in your way of thinking. I do notice some people are embarrassed to look at the discount rack so they steal glimpses by walking near it. I just waltz right over, proud as the day is bright, with my cheap self and poke around. These things are usually 30%-50% off regular priced items because they’re about two days old. Hey, I’m still alive and kicking.


15. Mind your credit score

It’s basically the grown-up version of being graded. It’s the official transcript & SAT score you send off to colleges to prove you’re not a total screw up. “Mmm, how has this person fared in the Life class, let’s see the scores.”

Thankfully, no one has to study for it. Just be mindful of your spending, watch out for ID theft and make time your friend.

P.S. if you have student loans (considered installment loans) you can improve your credit score without a credit card. Time and consistency of payments are the best ways to build your credit.3


16. Don’t wait to start exercising

It is easier to build the habit of exercising when you are young, strong, flexible and energetic. – Grant

17. Get roommates

By Josh. Having roommates is free money baby but make sure you choose the right person to bunk with! MSM wrote a terrific write up here.

18. Nutrition

Learn proper nutrition early on because your weight will creep up in a hurry once your metabolism starts to slow down. – MSM!

19. Budget traveling

There are a ton of resources out there (cough like Airbnbs!) so shop around 😉 – FM


15 Money Things Young Adults Overlook That Matter



  1. http://www.insurance.com/auto-insurance/saving-money/when-does-car-insurance-go-down.html
  2. http://fitsmallbusiness.com/email-signature-examples/
  3. https://www.studentdebtrelief.us/knowledge-base/student-loans-and-how-they-affect-your-credit-score/

29 thoughts on “15 Money Things Young Adults Overlook That Matter”

  • Great post. I am that Mom that has the left over (unwanted) stuff in the loft! However I have just started winning. My husband’s LP’s have just been handed on to my sister-in-law to sell. Only a few have sold so far £200. Result! Son’s CD’s less valuable but around £100. Younger son’s PlayStation and games about to go on eBay. As for older son’s warhammer. Looks like it will be an absolute winner. My win. I have given it loft room for years!

    • Hahaha that’s amazing Erith! ❤ Clearing house! J’s mom would be happy if we just took one box. I wonderful what possible treasures are buried in the garage.

  • 11: Find a frugal partner
    I can’t agree with you more. I like romance and courtship, but if it comes at the expense of being financially smart, then no thanks. Luckily, Mr. FAF is frugal but generous with family and close friends like I am, so I feel pretty happy about it. (I don’t think if I’d like a stingy husband.)

    We do get into fights about money every once in a while, but it’s not as bad as when we first got married. 😉
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…A Day In The Life of Ms. FAF – Workdays Edition

    • Hiiii FAF ❤
      Fighting about money is common even among those couples who are both likeminded (now imagine when they’re not). Me and hub go our rounds too but much less now since the whole rental situation brought us even closer.

  • These are all excellent points. I wish I would have read a post such as this when I moved out on my own at 19!

    I especially agree with finding a frugal partner. I spend the first half of my 20s with someone would could take or leave work and didn’t even have a savings account. Yikes!

    May I add to the list? What about treaveling responsibly? There are so many great, cost-effective options available to your people/students such as hostels vs expensive hotels. Everyone should take advantage of them for as long as possible.


    We’ve been putting things up for sale on Offer up. We’ve had some luck here and there, but most people want to usually cut the price by half. I’m fairly confident we’ll be able to sell some more items that we don’t need anymore, but may not get exactly what we want. It’s still better than it collecting dust 🙂

  • Great list! My husband and I are guilty of keeping boxes at his parents’ house, but we keep telling ourselves it’s only temporary until we move (from an apartment into our house). Hopefully we won’t still be saying that a year from now.

  • I definitely wish I’d paid attention to some of these when I was younger, but I did follow a few of them. I eventually got a dog but waited until I was 29 and financially prepared for it, two years after I was able to afford an apartment to myself. I also went and finally cleared out all my stuff that my parents were holding for me a few years ago, sold or donated it just to be done. I’m still working on getting rid of debt and it’s a balance because of course having roommates would make paying off debt go faster, but I’ve had some bad roommate experiences and just couldn’t do it anymore. So I’m picking my battles when it comes to paying off my debt.
    Liz @ Less Debt More Wine recently posted…How Having Pets Can Save You Money

  • Totally agree, especially on numbers 6, 11, 13 and 16.
    Great post, Lily! Congrats on being Rockstarred.

    A tip to go with your email signature — when sending an email with a resume for a job, create the message in Word. Enlarge the font, run spell check and proof it 3 times. You’ll catch mistakes like using “their” for “there” and missing words altogether. Fix the text in Word and copy it into the body of your email.
    Mrs. Groovy recently posted…Paul McCartney Wrote Some Crappy Music: More Trash-Talking from Mr. Groovy

    • Haha I heard Mr. Groovy’s trash rant about bad email etiquette. We’re the Snapchat generation! I’ll add it to the post 🙂 Thank you Mrs.G!!!

  • Great article so much truth to so many points…dying about the email signature lol.

    The exercise and nutrition piece is good advice too, way too many people depend on their metabolism thinking it will never slow down after their 20’s….sadly not the case!

  • These are all such great tips! I think so many people forget that they technically PAY for the library through their taxes. And I think finding a frugal partner is so, so important. I’m admittedly cheaper than Mr. NA but he’s still quite frugal.

    I think he balances me out though- I’ve learned that sometimes, it’s worth paying a little extra for a better experience or for a bit of convenience. Case in point: we’ve agreed to spend a little more on airfare so we don’t have to get up at 3AM to catch a flight and then spend waste the rest of that day napping to make up for sleep, haha In this scenario, he made a really good point that if we only have 3 days of vacation, it’s worth spending a bit more so we can enjoy the most out of that time.

  • Your bit about economics made me chuckle. As an economics major in college everything I do can be broken down into opportunity cost. Everything you do, every choice you make is a compounded decision of everything you chose to do previously.

    Like it’s written in the Hagakure: “There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. There will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment.” A whole life is sum of single moments.
    Cash Flow Celt recently posted…How Tulips Broke the Market: A Case Study

  • This list made me nod in agreement and laugh out loud all at the same time.
    From the library to working on your health, we learned the same things after college. (I recently fell in love with audiobooks from the library to listen to while running 😍) It’s so easy to think we know it all, when we know so little.
    We personally don’t bother much with our credit score, but we buy in cash only due to our own debt mistakes after college. While we’re at a bit of a different point than y’all, as we have 3 kids, we are close in age (28) and I really relate to these.
    My husband is def my frugal partner, but I am loving joining this frugal community to help encourage and keep us focused.
    Ember @ An Intentional Lifestyle recently posted…4 Reasons You Have Debt (And How To Fix It)

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