This financial advice gets repeated constantly, but the times are changing — and so is our approach to money.
Beyond a shift in our general attitude toward finances (and what’s actually feasible for Millennials and Gen-Z), it’s a personal responsibility to really examine how you are spending, saving, and budgeting to stay ahead of the game. With that in mind, here are the rules to drop in 2022.
“Don’t jump from job to job.”
If your uncle has been working the same desk job since you were born, he may give you some side-eye when you say you started a new job… again. It used to be that staying with a company long-term offered up not only stability but a bunch of extra benefits. However, it’s not always best to stay in a job for too long, especially in 2021. People who stay in jobs generally see a 3% raise every year, but experts have estimated that if you leave your job for a better position, you’re more likely to see a 10 to 20% salary increase. Beyond just the salary, though, sometimes becoming comfortable in a position can stifle career growth and your potential to scale your salary expectations. Now, we’re not saying you should change jobs every year, but give yourself a deadline and check-in: have your skills significantly grown? Are you being paid fairly? And do you have opportunities to advance your career further? You might be surprised by how much money you could be missing out on by staying put.
“Your emergency fund should keep you afloat three months.”
Emergencies happen and we all need to be prepared for just about anything. The past standard was to have about three months of rent and expenses saved up for those especially rainy days, but that standard may not fit best universally. Instead of working toward saving a specific amount, consider how much money you would want to have in the bank to feel independent: A.K.A. an FYF. Basically, how much savings would you need to feel empowered to leave your job without another one lined up? That’s going to be different based on your personal financial situation and skills, (e.g., do you work in a hyper-specialized field? Can you maintain a side hustle without a day job?). If you’re a numbers person, your FYF should have enough to keep you afloat for anywhere from 30 days to 18 months, depending on your setup.
“Your bills are non-negotiable.”
After years of adulting, it’s easy to fall into a comfortable routine with your bills. Over time, we just pay what we owe and keep it moving month to month. However, you may be missing out on some serious savings by not shopping around. Some bills are concrete and can’t really be compromised (like your electric and gas payments), however, more a la carte services, like your phone bill, might be more flexible. For instance, you can stick with your current wireless provider and potentially pay over $100 a month in services, or you can switch to Straight Talk. With plans starting at $35 a month, you get unlimited talk, text and high-speed data with no contract. Plus, there are no random mystery fees that pop up on your monthly bills. So take a look at your expenses and see where you might save a little extra dough.
“Never talk about money.”
Once upon a time, discussing your salary or financial situation was considered bad manners, right alongside asking questions about politics or religion. However, these days it’s almost encouraged. Talking about money with friends, especially peers in your industry, can give you a more transparent picture of what you should be paid. Not only that, but talking about how others approach debt, savings, and budgeting can help you avoid making rookie mistakes, or even teach you about investing. TLDR: Friends help friends keep their money life in order.
“Cancel credit cards you don’t use.”
Most people have at least one credit card gathering dust in their wallets, but don’t be too quick to start shredding cards or putting them in the freezer. Keeping those old accounts open does have some benefits. Most notably, older cards show you have a lengthy credit history, which is key to increasing your credit score. So, unless the credit card has annual fees, keep the scissors away.
“Buying is better than renting.”
Despite what the “American Dream” purports, buying a house with the white picket fence (for the 2.5 kids) is no longer the only way to go. Buying a house, in comparison to renting, is not the best option for everyone. Depending on your lifestyle (if you move often) and where you live (property taxes!), buying a house can be more of a burden than an asset. In the long run, owning a home can be cheaper, but it’s an investment that requires upfront financial costs, ongoing maintenance, and a lot of responsibility.
“Always pay in cash.”
While we all love the dolla dolla bills, cash isn’t always king. While paying with cash (or digital wallet apps) only may be the best move for those prone to overspending, most credit card companies offer cashback at places you regularly shop, and that may be more of a reward than any discount you might get for paying in cash. If you’re tech-savvy, getting into cryptocurrency may be an option to look into as well — it’s as anonymous as cash, but can potentially make you some extra $$$ if you invest wisely.
“Buying in bulk saves you money.”
Our moms may not be happy with this one, but buying in bulk is not always the best idea. Stocking up on certain household items can lead to wasting more money, as not everything will last in the fridge or cabinets. This shopping hack is only helpful for household items that are regularly replenished, like paper towels or cleaning supplies. It’s not the move for something ridiculous you would find at wholesale retailers and never finish, like a giant tub of mayo. So, double-check the prices against where you usually shop, and only pick up the massive option if it really does save you money.