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4 Tips for Planning for the Future

When you’re in your 20s, planning for the future may seem like a waste of time. Everything from marriage, a career, to retirement can seem like aspects of life you can continue to brush off until later. However, with the semester coming to an end, some of us may be graduating, or simply getting closer. The point is that many of us are moving on to a new chapter in our lives, and it’s time we prepare for it. I know it can be tough to plan for the future, especially if you don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life, but it’s important. Below are 4 tips on how to do it. 

Open A Savings Account

The sad truth about life is that you need money to do just about anything. Want to take a trip to Cancun? Money. Feel like moving out of your parents' basement? Money. Need a new outfit? Money. Everything will cost you, and while you may not need a new outfit or that trip overseas, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be able to afford it. The reality of it is that we need money to pay our bills, but for many people, those bills can get in the way of other life goals, such as traveling or buying your dream house. That’s why it’s crucial to put a portion of each paycheck into a savings account. No matter how small, it will help in the long run. 20 years down the road, wherever you may be, you’ll thank your younger self for being smart, and having money to afford things. 

Open a Retirement Fund 

I know this one may seem really far off, especially if you’re still in your 20s, but much like opening up a savings account, opening up a retirement fund is just as important for your future. I personally can’t even imagine getting old, as it seems like such a foregin concept, but I certainly hope to, and when I do, I want to be able to have enough money to fully enjoy everything retirement can entail. To break it down, and make it even simpler, let’s say you decide to open up a retirement fund when you graduate college at 22, and land your first full-time job. According to Kiplinger, an American publisher of personal finance, advice and business, if you start putting away $200 a month in a retirement fund, within 10 years you’ll have more than $37,000. Then, if your investments grow 8% a year, in 20 years you’ll have more than $122,000, and by the time you’re 67, you’ll have 1.2 million dollars. Let that sink in. 1.2 million is a lot of money, and I don’t know about anyone else, but that sounds like great advice to me. 

Make a List of Your Goals 

Have you ever had someone ask, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” It may sound a bit cliché, but it forces you to think about your future. You may not know right away where you see yourself, but it’s important to make a list of your goals in life, and what you want to accomplish. My suggestion would be to take notes, and keep track of what you love to do, where you see yourself going, and what you would like to learn. These can either be short-term or long-term goals, or even both, but writing it will help you narrow down what you want out of life for the next few years. I started doing this about two years ago, and I can tell you it works. I have gotten more out of life since I started, and so far I have accomplished what I wanted, and even surpassed some of my goals. While not everything has worked out in my favor (life isn’t perfect), I feel like I have come to terms on setting realistic goals I can achieve, and how to do it. Life can be super weird sometimes, and of course things don’t go as planned (this pandemic), but give it a try, and see what you come up with. 

Envision Life Going Your Way

Similar to making a list of your goals, now all you have to do is envision everything going your way. Sounds cheesy, I know, but positive thoughts only. You can try by making a mood board, daydreaming about what your life would look like if you landed that dream job, owned a home, had a family, or even graduated from college. It will make you feel excited about what the future holds. If neither of those options are really your style, then just talking about what you want your life to look like can help tremendously. Getting together with some friends, FaceTiming, or even talking to your mom can help make your plans feel more concrete and help you get moving on making it all work out. If there is one thing I have learned in life so far, is that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

Planning for your future can be overwhelming, confusing, and at times downright impossible. Yet, if you take some time to yourself to plan it all out and save some money, you’ll have a higher chance of getting where you want to go in life. It may seem scary, but these are things we all go through. You don’t want to reach a point in your life where you regret not setting aside some money, or planning your career. Life flies by before you know it, and you’ll be left wondering where the time went. 

Gaby is a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago, majoring in Communication and Psychology. In her free time, she likes to eat sushi, workout, and read books.
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