In your 20s? Master the basics of personal finance today to get yourself on the right track

If you’re a young adult just starting out on your own, lots of things are shouting for your attention, from a new job to confusing money concepts.

For instance, why should you save for something 40-plus years away? More than a quarter of Gen Zers think investing for retirement isn’t important, according to the personal finance site Nerdwallet.  

But if you want to actually retire someday, start saving now. It takes decades of planning and investing to get there. 

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Learning to manage money may seem like it doesn’t apply to you, but it does. You need the same core principles of financial planning — investing, risk management, estate and tax planning — as someone 10, 20 or 30 years older, says Paul Gaudio, a certified financial planner at Bryn Mawr Trust in Princeton, New Jersey.

Living on a starting salary, you may have to be deliberate in the choices you make so you can meet your monthly bills and get through your days, says Chris Kampitsis, a CFP at the Barnum Financial Group in Elmsford, New York.

“We all have choices to make,” he said. “For some people, it’s living in the suburbs and moving to the city when they get their financial feet under them.”

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