As a 21-year old growing up in a quiet part of a bustling city in 1999, my parents discuss money only in the night and early in the morning when we are asleep. It’s was a tough period for me because my parents never taught me much about managing money. This seems to be the norm today even after 20 years. Chances are that your parents were secretive when it comes to discussing financial issues and matters with you. Unfortunately, in college and higher institution, one is rarely taught personal finance and its strategies. This could be complicated for young ones in the 20s. A study in https://www.marketwatch.com/story/most-young-americans-are-living-on-the-edge-financially-2018-08-27 reveals that About a third of young adults (32%) were considered “financially precarious,” meaning they had few money management skills and little income stability, according to a University of Illinois study. Having said that, there is no better time to start learning about how to improve and manage your personal financial situation. The truth is that if money is important to you, then one must understand the importance of making smart personal finance decisions. Making smart personal finance decisions have nothing to with your educational background or your mom and dad but it is about you. Personal finance is an attitude and mindset. Let us delve into 3 major areas that you can make smart personal finance decisions. Emergency Money One major financial decision that can help us to plan for emergencies. Life is unpredictable and everyone is expected to be well-prepared for it. Stephen, a young man that lives in Barbados, has a small saving chest where he put money. He did that for one year and he saved almost $3,000 and that was part of the money used to support his education. Unfortunately, an emergency fund is not high on the priority list for young ones as most young ones live an extravagant lifestyle. My advice: If you do have an emergency fund, give yourself a big hug but if you don’t, set up an emergency fund either with your local bank or with a small till chest box, but don't touch it unless absolutely necessary. Your Financial Lifestyle Take a few minutes and think about your financial lifestyle now. Have you done that? This lifestyle has nothing to do with whether you're single or married gay or straight, Christian, Muslim or any religion affiliations Your financial lifestyle is everything you do that affects your personality and your future to an extent. Your lifestyle affects your pocket. To help you get started, kindly answer this quizzes as analyzed in this book-we've prepared a simple quiz. Answer these questions honestly by circling Yes or No and you'll better be able to evaluate your financial lifestyle: My advise: Take this quiz and score yourself: 1. Do you go out to dinner often? Yes /No 2. Do you spend a significant amount of money, maybe 10% or more of your income, on movies, at happy hours, dinners at restaurants, or other leisure activities? Yes /No 3. Do you love to shop for new clothes, even when you don't need them? Yes /No 4. Are you intrigued by all the latest electronic stuff, and do you own more of it than you need? Yes /No 5. Do you look at cars as status symbols, making the kind of car you drive very important to you? Yes /No 7. Do you regularly buy new CDs, videos, or computer software? Yes /No 8. Do you spend a lot of money in a short time and then are you unable to recall you bought once the money is gone? Yes /No Looking at What You Need and What You Don't What are the things you need? Are they things that are relevant or irrelevant? The truth is that most 20s have too much stuff, but there are certain things that we all need: a place to live, food to eat, water to drink, clothes to wear, and shoes to wear. However, we need other things like cars, getting entertained, getting married etc Do you know the truth? Nobody is going to argue with you or teleguide you in respect to what you need and what you shouldn't buy. The issue is with the mindset, that you need everything you see or everything that everyone has. If your mindset revolves around it, there is a likelihood of you buying things that you don’t need. All that does is make you have too much stuff and jeopardizes your financial future. My advice If the impulse to buy occurs to you, hide your credit card, and sleep off. Engage in activities that make you forget about buying. Utilities. Gas, electricity, oil, water, trash pickup, and phone all are costs associated with renting or owning a home or apartment. You can control them by monitoring and cutting back, but you can't escape them. Food. You can stop eating, but only for a little while. You can save on food costs, such as cooking for yourself instead of buying prepared foods or going out to eat. Transportation. Instead of driving if you own a car, can you walk in order to save on fuel cost? If you do not own a car, which is cheaper-taxi? Public transport? Train? Budgets A budget is simply a schedule of income and expenses. It's a way of planning your expenses ahead. It is very important to keep track of the money you earn from any source and how you spend your money. To deny yourself something that you want is one major way to show you are making personal finance smart decision and at the end of the savings, you will save a lot of money. Avoiding counting your chicken before it is hatched I was 25 years old when I made a bizarre decision that nearly ruined my financial life. I was expecting some money from a part-time job that I did and based on that expectation, I borrowed money from a local lender to settle some needs, but along the line, the company became bankrupt and I could not get my money. I went into debt and it took me 2 years to pay up the debt. Most young ones are wrapped into that bizarre cycle and it is not a smart financial decision. There is a saying in accounting which says ‘Do not anticipate income but anticipate losses’ Determine your expenses based on what you have and not on what you are expecting. A budget makes you consider what you will earn and to pay attention to what you spend. A good budget will tell you to the dollar how much you can spend on things such as food, restaurants, clothes, makeup, drinks with friends, and movies. Most 20s don't like the restrictions a budget imposes on our life. We'd rather buy that great shoe and figure out how to pay for it later. Well, prepare for a change in attitude. Variance analysis Endeavour to compare your budget to your actual expenses. Streamline your budget into a yearly budget and trim it down to monthly and daily budget. At the end of the day, conduct a ‘sober reflection’ on your expenses in order to determine whether what was budgeted for the day was actually abided by. Tonia, a 23 years old college student, budgeted $50 for the day. She wanted to do four things during the day which include; Visit a saloon Visit a cousin who lives close by Attend classes on campus Visit the library for a group discussion for a biology assignment Can you guess some of the expenses she is likely to spend during the day? Transportation cost Drinks with friend Saloon cost Mobile phone charges and call rates She can apply variance analyses on herself for the day if after getting back home, she checks all the expenses incurred with the actual budget made for the day. Assuming she incurs $80 during the day, she has exceeded her budget by $30, that is called unfavorable budget. Advice To avoid the traps that so many people fall into: too much debt, too little or no savings, impulse buying, too much entertainment and too much spending. To do that, you've got to have a budget. There's no way around it. Unless you've got an Albert Einstein memory and a calculator for a brain, you can't keep track of your income and personal expenditures in your head. Maintain a budget and endeavor to follow it through.