If you’re in your twenties, you can probably think of a few things you’d like to tell your teenage self if you could go back in time. Once you hit your thirties and forties, you’ll probably feel the same way about your twenties, but what if you could get access to some of that information now? There are a few things people often fail to do when they’re young that aren’t as difficult as they seem that could make their lives much easier in the years ahead. Below are a few that you could benefit from learning in your twenties—or at any age if you haven’t yet.
Learn to Cook
You don’t need to become a gourmand, but learning to cook a few meals is a skill that can help you eat better, save money and impress others. Cooking basic meals is not difficult, and there are plenty of cookbooks and websites aimed at absolute beginners even if you don’t know how to boil an egg. Get three or four quick and easy meals you can make after work under your belt plus one for special occasions.
Learn to Budget
Budgeting comes with challenges at any age. If you’re older, you might be struggling with house and car payments, the cost of raising children and maybe even helping out your parents. If you’re young, you may build up substantial student loan debt. Like many people, taking out private student loans to pay for school is a great way to invest in your future, at a lower interest rate, saving you more money in the long run. After graduation, paying off more than the minimum each month can help you get rid of that debt more quickly. That can be hard because you might be watching your peers buy things and lead lifestyles you couldn’t possibly afford, but there’s a good chance that they are running up credit card bills to do it. If you start teaching yourself to budget now, which includes paying your debts and putting money into savings before spending, it will quickly become second nature.
Learn to Save
This is part of budgeting, but it’s so important it deserves its own heading. If you work for a company that has a retirement plan and you start putting away even a minimal amount from your paycheck every pay period, you will be in a better position than someone who starts doing the same thing in their thirties or forties. If your company doesn’t have a plan, talk to your local bank or credit union about what kind of account you could set up, and have a portion of your paycheck automatically placed in it.
Between trying to get your career started, learning how to live on your own and manage money, and looking for a relationship, you might find yourself becoming very risk-averse. However, although it’s important to lay down good habits in your twenties, it’s also okay to make mistakes. This is a great time to take risks because if they don’t work out, you have plenty of time to recover and you don’t yet have a family who will be adversely affected. Calculated risk taking is a skill like any other that you can learn to use to your advantage.