skip to Main Content
How 26 Year Olds Should Invest Their Time

How 26 Year Olds Should Invest their Time

Advice From Experts: What You Should Be Doing at 26

How a 26 year old should invest time.

It’s hard to say how a person should or shouldn’t invest their time, young or old. Needless to say, 26 is a strange age.

You may still be figuring out what you want from this life. You may have children, or still be at home living with your parents. But if you want independence, financial security, health and most of all, happiness, there are a few steps to begin managing your time.

When quantifying time, we can look at it as the distance between where you are in this moment and where you will be in the future. How can you make the best of that distance so your future self will be proud of your present self?

We approached experts in different fields to gather ideas of what 26 means to them.

YOUR FINANCES.

Be open to take on opportunities that don’t pay much – if and only if, they are worth it.

Think of your time as money. 

If you are entering a new field, consider on-the-job training instead of going back to school. The money you don’t spend on going back to school may make up for the time you are pouring into a lower-paying job or internship. Both require time, but school requires time and money.

Invest in time and save.

It’s simple, the sooner you begin adding to your savings account and IRA, the better off you’ll be.

Let’s look at Sam Dogen, founder of Financial Samurai, one of the largest independent personal finance sites helping people achieve financial freedom sooner, rather than later. Sam spent 13 years in banking and regularly consults with financial technology companies.

Golden advice from Sam:

“In four years, you’ll be 30. You should have either “made it,” or be on the path where you know you will make it. Your 20s should be focused on soaking in as much information as possible, finding a mentor, building solid skills that will provide you optionality in the workforce, or through the creation of your own company.

“You can have just as much fun in your 30s as your 20s. So don’t listen to all the advice out there recommending you to live it up. Save at least 20% of your after-tax income. Keep increasing that savings percentage rate until it hurts. Keep it there until it no longer hurts, and then raise your savings rate until it hurts again. You will not regret maxing out your 401k, investing after tax money in real assets, and hustling as much as possible. In fact, you will probably regret not saving and learning more the older you get. Never fail due to a lack of effort! Hard work requires no skill.”

Stay out of credit card debt. 

Credit can be a powerful tool, if used properly. A deep understanding of credit can lead to free airplane rides, cash-back rewards, great loans and a bright financial future. A lack of credit education can land you in a the poor house where you are paying back more money on invisible borrowed money. If credit is still an elusive topic that you have been shying away from, start with some basics.

Manage your money like car maintenance.

A little bit of financial maintenance goes a long way. Christina Kramlich, senior Director of Social Finance, Inc. shares her guidance:

“We all think we’re doing a good job with money management, but are we really? How can we know for sure if we don’t take the time to find out? Do yourself the favor of addressing your personal finance situation more than once a year. Like having good eating habits, managing your personal finance habits can really make a difference in your life. If you’re as time-pressed as I am, it helps to have an idea of where to focus your limited time and energy when you do turn your attention to financial planning.”

Create a budget.

Find a simple budget template, and stick to it. When creating a budget, you will gain a new perspective on how much you are spending in certain arenas of your life and provide some insight into where you can cut back.

If you are looking to trim the edges around some bills, consider refinancing your car loan or student loans to lower your interest.

YOUR CAREER. 

Your career is an all-encompassing topic. Does it represent a prison, a meal ticket, or life purpose?.

Finding yourself in your mid-twenties without a purpose-driven career is completely normal. But what are the steps to figuring out, or better yet, obtaining this fulfilling career? You don’t have to know all the answers now, but spend a portion of everyday moving closer to the work that is right for you- it will alter everything.

For those of you who are wondering if they are on the right path, Glenn Laumeister, founder and CEO of CoachMarket, a company that guides clients into thinking two steps ahead shares some thoughts after years of working with clients in their twenties:

“For career minded professionals in their mid to late 20’s what we see is a lack of perspective regarding how important it is to build a network to serve as a foundation for your long term career success. People connect you to career opportunities, so the more people you know and know well, the more opportunities you will naturally find available to you.”

“So looking for jobs at the leading companies in the industry, say Google or Facebook in tech, or JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs in banking, not only provides you with challenging work and a great name on your resume, but also becomes a place to meet hundreds of others to form a network that will prove to be a huge asset in your career for the next decade.  Think of these company experiences just like college or graduate school, they create an alumni network that you can tap into over the rest of your career. Think two steps ahead, how will this job and the company satisfy your short term goals of income, rewarding work and professional achievement, but also how will it prepare you for what you want to do after you have spent 3-5 years in that company?”

YOUR HEALTH.

Yes, you are still young and beautiful, so it may be difficult in a seeing a point in moderation and better health. But your 60 year-old self will thank you if you put down that extra donut or martini.

  • Spend more time stretching and less time drinking. Put away the money you would spend on buying drinks and add it to to your savings.
  • Quit smoking. If not today, when?
  • Pay attention to what you eat and how it makes you feel. What doesn’t feel so great now will feel awful in another twenty years.
  • Skincare. Another sunburn is not worth it. Start carrying a small bottle of sunscreen with you in your car, and convince yourself that being caught in the sun without protection is like being caught in a snowstorm without a coat.
  • Find a physical activity you love and can look forward to.

Acknowledge stress and don’t let it become the norm. Dr. Doni, a naturopathic Doctor who focuses on empowering wellness naturally speaks on stress:

“One of the first things to know about stress is that if you worry about the effects of stress, that has an even more negative impact on your body. So the key is “don’t stress about stress!” So how to do that? I recommend integrating activities into your day that will end up helping your body to manage stress, but without you thinking about it. You’ll just enjoy the activities!

Based on research that tells us what works, you can choose from:

  1. Spending time outdoors
  2. Spending time with family and friends
  3. Having pets
  4. Exercise – your favorite type of exercise – on a regular basis
  5. Mindfulness, meditation and/or yoga
  6. Taking breaks during the day
  7. Breathe, get massages, and/or acupuncture
  8. Journal and express your emotions

Stress determines how and when any genetic predispositions that you have will result in disease. So the more you manage how your body is affected by stress, the more you are preserving your wellness for later in life. ”

SETTING LIMITS.

Your time.

Set boundaries with people who are trying to take you off course or even within yourself. If you can be your own worse enemy when it comes to managing your time and accomplishing your goals, make a plan every night before bed.

It’s common to feel lost at this age and mornings can be tricky if you aren’t sure where you’re headed in your life. Whether you are jobless or too busy to eat, time management is extremely necessary, not only for accomplishing goals, but for staying happy. Waking up in the morning without a plan for the day can be discouraging. Don’t fall into despair.

We approached Jennifer Bonnessi, creator of The Family Bind {TFB}, a resource that helps families who are fighting to stick together in today’s culture create ties that bind them together forever:

“Setting limits starts with being clear about your priorities. I have been most successful at this when I start big and work small.

For example, in the story of my life, what is my priority? Family.

Great, now when I look at little things like my work story, my health story, etc, I can look it through the lens of my top priority. Then when I look at what jobs I take, I look at how it will affect my family – will I be away for travel too often, will I be able to financially provide like I need to, is the sacrifice of time in balance with the reward for my family.

Finally, I recommend be discerning about what steals from you.

Stealing implies you are not a willing participant in an exchange. If something is stealing from you, stop feeding it. For example, if it is a toxic relationship, stop engaging with the other party. Usually, you don’t have to make any major efforts.

While we are often our own worst critics, we are also often blind to characteristics that can knock us off balance. Having a mentor who can speak truth into you is an invaluable asset.”

FINDING BALANCE.

And finally…breathe.

This is an important age to get your train on track so you’re not jumping off at high speed further along in your journey. But make sure you create balance within responsibility and discovery. Never let go of discovery, and find what experiences will lead to this.

Did you know the hippocampus, a region in the brain is thought to be the center for memory capacity and quality, as well as mood and emotion? It has been studied that through learning, and the generating of new neurons, we can decrease the potentiality of depression. If you begin feeling like you’re sinking into a rut, a simple remedy could be trying new things and learning. Once again, discovery. For more on this brain study, check out this Ted Talk.

Lisa Haisha, world traveler, life coach, TV host for the legacy series and founder of the annual legacy gala imparted a few words of advice on traveling and discovery to readers in their twenties:

“Take time off to travel. Experiences and adventure is what you’re left with when you’re older. Money helps with making life easier but doesn’t buy happiness or a great legacy. When you’re older, enter hundreds of people I’ve talked with all wanted to work in their legacy before they died.”

Don’t stress, you have a lot of life ahead of you. And anyway, 30 is the beginning of a whole new decade.

Alexandra Oliver

Alexandra works for IFS, loves her Toyota Yaris but dreams of driving a Tesla.

Back To Top