Financial Advice Career Women Wish They Would Have Known at 25
By Courtney Connley
Snagging your first job after college is one of the key steps to feeling like you’ve arrived as an adult. And while the feeling of earning a steady paycheck after years of hard work in school is one to celebrate, many young professionals have no clue about the impact the decisions they make early in their career will have on their financial future.
From understanding the power of negotiating your salary to investing in your 401k, having an emergency savings fund and more, below is the financial advice that four successful career women wish they would have known at 25.
LaToya Smith, CEO of Brass City Media, Inc.
At 25, LaToya Smith was an editor at a business and finance magazine in New York. With years of experience in her career field, below is the advice she would go back and give her 25-year-old self:
“Like most millennials now in their early 30s, I started my career during the 2008 financial crisis. Most of my peers were unable to find a job and if you did, even the most profitable companies were tightening their budgets. While I enjoyed the work I was doing and grateful to have a job during such a tough economic time, there were some financial goals that I could not meet because I just didn't have much money left over after my monthly expenses were paid. If I could do it over again, I would have done a better job at leveraging my skill set so that I could have brought in additional income by.video editing, copyediting or proofreading,” she said. “No matter how disciplined you are at saving, you won't be able to hit all of your financial goals if you're not getting paid enough. Don't stay at the same job if you feel that you are not growing and/or are underpaid.”
Keanna Swindell, Associate Producer at Radio One, Inc.
At 25, Keanna Swindell was two years out of college and working as a radio producer in DC with a part-time retail job. With years of experience in her career field, here’s what Swindell would say to her 25-year-old self about money:
“I would have told myself to save like my life depended on it. When you’re first starting out with a job, you’re kind of excited to be working, and at least for me, I didn’t really think too much about saving,” she said. “I didn’t get any credit cards until after I got out of college, but during my year of looking for employment, I allowed my debt to collect and as interest builds over time, it gets harder to pay it off. If I could go back, I would have made more of an effort to clear my credit card debt before it got out of hand. I would have tried to get creative in figuring out a way to making ends meet rather than relying on the swipe of a card. You don’t want to owe people too early, especially when you’re already paying for the education you attained.”
Swindell also added, “We don’t realize that stress can be real no matter how old or young you are and even through the struggle, I would have started early with creating a self-care fund. Yes, going to the bar and brunch is fun, but maybe sacrifice some of those party nights and translate some of those funds into a massage or a vacation. I would have also hustled like crazy to keep multiple streams of income. We realize the impact of social media, but at 25, I don’t think I realized how many people were actual entrepreneurs because of it.”
Wenisha Jones, Accountant with the U.S. Coast Guard
At 25, Wenisha Jones had finished her MBA and was working as an auditor at KMPG, which is one of the big four accounting firms in Washington, DC. With years of experience in her career field, below is the advice she would go back and give her 25-year-old self:
“I would avoid overspending on material things that I want but don't really need such as expensive clothes, accessories, cars or electronic devices. I would save and invest my money for the long term in stocks, bonds or real estate, thus turning my expensive habits into financial investments or a business,” Jones said.
Jones also added a bit of life advice saying, “It's OK if you are not good at everything or even like the career you went to college for and if you fail, just get back up and be resilient. At 25, it's so much pressure and the quarter century crisis happens when you finally realize that people and things change. I would also work more on things that I enjoy and that I’m passionate about. I would also seek a mentor and make an effort to build a strong relationship with them.”
Sakina Spruell, Business Journalist
At 25, Sakina Spruell was working as a local newspaper as a beat reporter and obituary writer. With years of experience in her career field, below Spruell shares the financial tips she’d share with her younger self:
“I would tell myself to not focus solely on paying off my debt, but to save at least 20 percent of my income from each paycheck for an emergency fund or cushion money for vacation. I put all of my energy into getting rid of the debt that I didn't simultaneously start saving until I was in my 30s. You should do both at the same time, and for people who say they don't have enough to do both, they should reduce the amount they are paying to creditors. Make a lower payment plan so you can have something to save.”
Spruell added, “One of the biggest mistakes I made when I was young was taking out those credit cards in my first two years of college and not focusing on paying them off. There is nothing wrong with taking out a credit card, but you should factor in where the money is going to come from to pay at least the minimum payment every month. It is not free money. It is expensive money. You actually have to pay that money back plus the interest, which in some cases can be an extra 20 percent.”
Courtney Connley is a writer, editor and digital journalist with a sweet spot for storytelling and helping millennials win in the workplace and in life. She considers brunching to be a full-time hobby and enjoys anything that involves avocado or a good book. You can stay up-to-date with her latest work at courtneyconnley.com and follow her latest happenings on social media @classicalycourt.