Ballin' On A Budget: Why Millennials Need To Be More Money Conscious In Their 20s

by Mary Rebecca Harakas

We're hate hearing the term "budget." But as 20-somethings, many of us are fortunate enough to have our parents give in every time we ask for money.

We're lucky to have financial aid packages and to skid by with a measly paycheck from a part-time job.

Regardless of what your income is, it takes diligence to maintain a budget. Why should this be a priority? Well, to sum it up, life is full of the unexpected.

There are indicators in our world that also influence why everyone in their 20s should keep a budget.

College debt will come back to haunt you.

I was quite nonchalant about my college loans, but thankfully, I also went to a public university in which I didn't have ridiculous student debt after graduation, quite like my private school counterparts.

Regardless, everyone experiences debt at some point in his or her life, and it often begins with college loans. It isn't just the loans, but the interest rates that also accrue and lead to greater debt.

Most loans will provide a six-month grace period after graduation, and from there, you'll need to start paying. But all isn't hopeless. Managing a budget in which you take a portion of your earnings and pay off your college loans will save you thousands in the future because you aren't dragging out your payment plan.

Regardless of what plan you choose to pay off your loans, always strive to pay more than the suggested amount. It only helps you pay it off faster and save money in the long run.

Your entry-level paycheck will suck.

It is called "entry-level" for a reason. Yes, you're probably doing work that could have substituted for an internship, and you probably had more difficult college courses, but in line with that is the paycheck.

Everyone has to start somewhere; no one starts out in a company as the CEO. Therefore, you won't be getting a CEO paycheck at first, but rather, a bottom-of-the-totem-pole paycheck. And that's okay. It builds character, and you'll work hard to move up the ladder.

Besides that, you'll realize how quickly money goes -- from your rent and utilities to groceries and gasoline, plus nights out and random expenses like dry cleaning. It all adds up.

Take your monthly paycheck and categorize your expenses. You'll save yourself stress, anxiety, overdraft fees and outstanding credit cards.

You NEED to build credit.

I have several friends who stay away from credit cards and instead, only use debit cards. While this may be wise for some people who choose to never be in debt, building credit is essential for future financial opportunities.

If you need to take out a loan, or make a large purchase such as a car or home, companies will check your credit background. If it sucks, you won't be approved, but if you have a great credit score, you'll be approved for almost all the purchases in which you'll want to invest.

Be prepared for life's surprises.

Nothing in life is predictable, and if you haven't figured that out by now, it is time to wake up. All of us have a surprise we never expected, like going to the doctor one day and realizing we needed a type of surgery.

Okay, that's a lot to take in, but think of the other extreme: your friends found this crazy good deal to go to Europe on Groupon, and you'd like to go to. Oh, what do you know? You've been budgeting so well, you have extra spending cash and can, therefore, go to Europe at the drop of a hat.

Life is full of both negative and positive surprises. Embrace and accept them by maintaining a balanced budget.

Budgeting isn't fun, but it is essential. Once you get into the swing of a budget mindset, you'll feel better about how  you're spending and have more gratitude toward those purchases because you earned it.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It