Hindsight Is 20/20: 9 Frugal Tips Redditors Wish They'd Followed in Their 20s

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Young African-American man uses a mobile phone on the go

Woulda, Coulda, Shouda

Even if you’re aimlessly moving from job to job in your 20s, you have something valuable that late-career professionals don’t: time. Good choices you make now will pay dividends, and poor choices will haunt you. This reminder isn’t meant to send you into some anxiety-fueled existential thought loop. On the contrary, you should take this as a gentle nudge to make the most of your youth. 

But don’t take it from me. Old budget-minded Redditors recently shared the financial advice they wished they’d followed in their 20s, from cutting back on alcohol to going to community college.

Related: 7 Best Money-Saving Tips for Gen Z, According to Redditors

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Londoners group of friends meet up in a pub

Go Easy on the Alcohol

Alcohol is expensive. Not only can a couple of rounds easily run up a $100-plus bill, but alcohol can also take a serious toll on your health. According to a Centers for Disease Control study, excessive alcohol consumption costs the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars a year, with a significant portion being spent on health care expenses.

Related: 20 Cheap Imported Beers Better Than Budweiser

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Don’t Buy Stuff Because You’re Bored

From product placement to sponsored content, it’s hard to escape the pull of advertising. But with enough willpower and a few mindful frugal tips, even the spendiest consumers can cut back on impulse buys. For instance, the next time you want to buy something, you can add it to a “delayed gratification list.” If you’re able to resist the temptation for a few days, chances are the urge will pass.

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Bring Lunch to Work

On top of commuting, working, cleaning, and socializing, it’s tough to find time to make a brown bag lunch. The problem is that eating out adds up, with one Redditor estimating that they spent around $5,000 a year on lunch alone. To save time and money, consider prepping your meals ahead of time.

The buyer holds a purchase receipt in his hands, checks purchases and prices
Viktoriia Makarova/istockphoto

Live Below Your Means

If you live comfortably and you get a raise, the most prudent thing you can do is to funnel your extra cash into a savings or retirement account. We’re not saying you have to live like a monk. Everyone needs an occasional treat. But your future self will thank you if you set up your accounts to automatically send the extra dough to a separate account.

Depressed Asian young girl feel worry about financial problem in house. Stressed desperate young woman looking frustrated to paperwork and bills think of money debt, budget loss, bankruptcy at home.

Pay Down Debt

It may seem obvious, but paying down debt when you’re young should be a priority. To make the process more manageable, you can use the snowball or avalanche methods.

Preparing her favourite dish

Learn To Cook

If the extent of your cooking knowledge is boiling water and using the microwave, it’s no wonder why you’d eat out. Pre-made food is so-so at best and inedible at worst — not to mention how unhealthy it is. Instead of relying on canned beans and frozen pizza, start small with easy recipes and learn the basics along the way.

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Kong Ding Chek/istockphoto

Go to a Community College and Transfer

Even in states that don’t offer free community college, two-year schools are drastically cheaper than their university counterparts. You can take advantage of that discount by attending a community college before transferring to a four-year university as a junior.

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Job-Hop and Negotiate Pay

In March, workers who switched jobs in the past three months saw their wages increase by around 7.3%, while those who stayed in their jobs received a raise of 5.9%, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. The upshot is that it pays to job-hop. And when you do land a new gig, you should negotiate your pay.