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Quarter Life Crisis? Here’s How to Get On the Right Money Path

July 11, 2018
quarter life crisis

Play catch-up now! Once you’re 25, it’s probably time to take stock of your finances.

4 min read

The quarter life crisis can be a real thing. You’re a recent high school or college graduate. You’ve got your first job, maybe rented your first apartment. Now, what do you do?

Here’s the good thing about being in your 20s. You have the time and energy to work multiple jobs, which is good because if you’re like many other young people, you’re still struggling to make ends meet.

You also probably feel like you’re too young to worry about retirement, investing, and healthcare costs. Well, adulthood comes fast. And you don’t want to be left playing catch-up, so it’s time to saddle up.

It’s better to have a quarter life financial crisis than a midlife one.

By the time you hit 25, it’s probably a good idea to have these accounts. If you don’t have them yet, consider adding them to your financial checklist.

Checking account

You likely have a checking account—you need to buy stuff, after all. If not, it’s time to get one.

Signing up for a checking account is, however, one of the first steps most people take toward getting their finances in order. It’ll also give you a safe place to keep your money (under your mattress isn’t as safe as you’d think), makes paying your bills easier, and will give you access to other products and services offered by your bank or credit union.

Savings account

A checking account and a savings account. They’re like two peas in a pod.

You should open up a savings account along with a checking account, if you haven’t already, and start establishing goals. Your first goal should be to create some financial padding, through savings, in the event that life throws you a financial curveball, such as a layoff or medical emergency.

Emergency fund

Your emergency fund money should probably be in a savings account so that it’s easily accessible, or liquid, in the event that you need to tap into it.

Forty percent of Americans don’t have enough money saved up to cover a $1,000 emergency, according to industry data, while 28% don’t have any savings at all. When you’re young and living paycheck to paycheck, even a minor unexpected expense can throw your finances into a tailspin, and it can take months (or even years) to recover.

An emergency fund, covering between three and six months of expenses, is perhaps the single most effective defense.

Retirement account(s)

Even though retirement may seem like it’s decades away, it’ll be here sooner than you realize. And the sooner you start saving for it, the more you’re likely to have. Two of the most popular retirement accounts are the 401(k) and the individual retirement accounts, or IRA.

While there are some significant differences between the two, you can use both to start saving for retirement.

Something else to keep in mind: There are two types of IRAs, either a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. The basic difference is that a Roth IRA is funded with post-tax earnings, where with a traditional IRA, the funds are deposited before the government takes a cut. If you do open up a traditional IRA, however, be aware that can’t withdraw your money until you retire, or you’ll have to pay a penalty.

You can open a retirement account with just $5 with Stash Retire.

Brokerage or investment account

A brokerage account is an investment account—it’s an account you’d open with a licensed broker in order to buy and trade securities.

You’re still young, and that means you have time on your side. So use that time to put compounding to work. While a brokerage account is similar to a retirement account, they differ in key ways, including that you can withdraw your money at any time from an investment account, there are no limits on how much you can invest, and your investments will be subject to capital gains taxes.

It’s never too early to start investing, and you can get started even get started with as little as $5 using a platform like Stash. Of course, You’ll need to keep investing if you want to see a real return, so get in the habit of stashing money into the market by purchasing bonds, stocks, and other investments.

Learn more about how Stash Coach helps guide you along your investing journey.

Beyond 25?

More money, more problems. And as you get older, you’ll probably start earning more. Life, in all likelihood, will also get more complicated, as you look to settle down, possibly get married, start a family, etc.

Here are accounts to consider in the future:

And, of course, don’t forget to keep funding your retirement and investment accounts as you get older, too. Turn on Auto-Stash to automate your money toward your goals.

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By Sam Becker
Sam Becker is Stash's financial writer.

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