When you first start earning consistent paychecks, handling your own money and living on your own in your 20s, it can be tricky to know how best to manage your cash.
But if you can take just two steps with your money, you’ll position yourself nicely for the future, says self-made millionaire and best-selling author of “Money: Master the Game” Tony Robbins:
1. Invest your money
If you want to build wealth, you have to invest your money. As Robbins puts it, you that helps you become an owner: “Are you a consumer or are you an owner? You are not on target unless you become an investor. You don’t want to just buy an Apple phone — you want to own Apple.”
Robbins isn’t suggesting you pick individual stocks like Apple, though: He recommends investing in index funds, which allow you to own a small piece of many different companies. The S&P 500, for example, is a fund that holds stocks for the 500 largest companies in the U.S., including Apple, Google, Exxon and Johnson & Johnson.
Besides index funds, another simple way to start investing is to contribute to a 401(k) plan, a tax-advantaged retirement savings account, or other retirement savings accounts, such as a Roth IRA or traditional IRA. You can also look into automated investing services known as robo-advisors.
No matter how you choose to invest, the most important step is to open at least one account and start contributing to it consistently. The earlier you start, the better, thanks to the power of compound interest, which can cause your wealth to snowball over time.
“You don’t want to just buy an Apple phone — you want to own Apple.”
2. Automate your contributions
Eventually, you want to get to the point where “the income that you get off those investments will allow you to live the life you have today without working,” says Robbins. The easiest way to get there is to automate your investments — meaning, have your employer do a payroll deduction or have your money taken out of your checking account and sent directly to your investment account.
“I don’t care what age you are, if you don’t automate it, you’re not going to get there,” says Robbins. By sending money automatically to your investment account, you won’t even have the option of spending it. Plus, when you don’t see the money, you’ll learn to live without it.
“Most people say, ‘I don’t have any money to invest. I can’t put the money aside to do that,'” says Robbins. Contrary to popular opinion, though, you don’t need much money to get started. In fact, with micro-investing apps such as Acorns, you can start with your “spare change.”
In your 20s, “you have to decide that a certain amount of money that you make is going to be yours to keep,” says Robbins, “and that you’re going to be an owner — an investor — not merely somebody that’s constantly struggling to buy more things.”