8 Money Mistakes at 20 That Will Land You in Debt by 30

Few mistakes are more difficult to erase than money mistakes. The errors of youth have a way of haunting us long after we've changed our ways and become models of responsible personal finance. If you're in your 20s, look ahead and make life easier for your 30-something self. Here are eight money mistakes at 20 that will land you in debt by 30.

1. Amassing huge student loans

According to Student Loan Hero, today's average student loan borrower will graduate owing $37,172. What makes student loan debt particularly dangerous? First, most loans have variable interest rates. When rates increase, so do your payments (try budgeting around that). Second, student loan debt can't be discharged in bankruptcy. If you default, the government can garnish your wages, take your tax refund, and even dip into your Social Security payments in retirement. (See also: What Really Happens When You Don't Pay Your Student Loans)

2. Carrying credit card debt

With high interest rates, late payment penalties, and other fees, a modest credit card balance can quickly become a major problem. People who overspend in their 20s can easily rack up huge debt loads by their 30s — a situation that forces many to delay homeownership, toil away at jobs they dislike, and live with constant financial stress. Avoid the drama of consumer debt. Adopt a strict policy of paying off your credit balances in full each month. (See also: The Fastest Method to Eliminate Credit Card Debt)

3. Ignoring your credit score

Your FICO score is your GPA of adulthood. That magic number affects everything from loan eligibility and interest rates to employment opportunities. Since rebuilding a low credit score can take years, you can't afford to ignore it. Just imagine getting stuck with a higher mortgage rate at 35 because you were late with a few car payments at 27. Not good. (See also: How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps)

4. Splurging on a new car

Countless 20-somethings are tempted to buy a new car as soon as they land their first real job. But with steep prices, rapid depreciation, and higher insurance premiums, buying new is seldom a smart financial move. This single bad investment can strain your budget for years and leave little money to establish an emergency fund or aggressively pay down student debt. (See also: 3 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy a New Car)

5. Not talking finances with your significant other

Ready for an important love lesson? Talking about money won't kill your romance, but the stress of overwhelming debt just might. Before you commit, share your full financial picture (warts and all). Talk about income, debt, bad money habits you're trying to overcome, and your personal financial goals. It'll not only bring you closer as a couple, it'll empower you to work as a team. (See also: 5 Money Conversations Every Couple Should Have)

6. Overspending for your wedding

According to a study conducted by The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the United States hit a whopping $35,329 in 2016. And while new unions are always a cause for celebration, the price tag for these elaborate events often forces young couples to assume more debt at a time when paying off student loans, saving for a home, and funding retirement accounts should be top priorities. With interest, wedding bills can easily become money monsters that devour budgets for years. (See also: 3 Reasons Taking a Loan For Your Wedding Is a Bad Idea)

7. Not building an emergency fund

Ah, the optimism of youth! Twenty-somethings often don't realize that a layoff, uninsured medical expense, or unexpected home repair can spell financial disaster. Without an emergency fund to cover at least six months' worth of living expenses, they risk being forced into high-interest credit card debt — a decision that can launch a long-term cycle of debt. (See also: 7 Easy Ways to Build an Emergency Fund From $0)

8. Going without health insurance

We all feel invincible when we're in our 20s, but accidents and unexpected health issues can throw our lives off course at any moment. Without insurance, medical bills can quickly reach staggering amounts (in fact, medical expenses are the most common cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States). Protect your most important asset — yourself. (See also: The One Question You Need to Answer to Choose the Best Health Care Plan)

Like this article? Pin it!

8 Money Mistakes at 20 That Will Land You in Debt by 30

No votes yet
Your rating: None

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.