You're young free and single, and your 20's are your playground, but they're also a decade in your life that will count a whole lot towards your future. While financial planning may seem boring and unnecessary, the smart, savvy you will recognise the need to plan for a future that could be difficult and one where you may run into some bumps on the road. Here are five relatively easy moves you can make to make your financial future a more stable one.
Write Down Your Goals
Without creating a list of long- and short-term goals, it is impossible to determine if you are making the right financial decisions. Consider things like: ;
How you envision your retirement;
If and when you'd like to become a homeowner;
Whether you plan to have children;
Which debts you want to focus on paying off first
Credit Cards are a necessary evil. Choose yours carefully and monitor your spending with mobile banking apps.
And remember, you don't need to map out your entire life. These goals will change and evolve over time, but thinking about where you want to be in 1, 5, 15 years can help you hone in on what kinds of financial decisions you should be making day-to-day.
Start Saving for Retirement
I know what you're thinking. “I'm only in my 20s, I can save for retirement later, right?" Technically, yes, but it is in your best interest to start now. The sooner you start, the less you'll have to save, because the effects of compound interest will have longer to mature. This means you can contribute less and end up with more than if you were to wait to start saving in your 30s. Check with your employer to see if they have a 401(k) plan that you can make automatic contributions to through your paycheck. If they offer a matching plan, this is essentially free money, so try to contribute enough to maximize the amount they'll match.
Stop Maxing Out Your Credit Cards
Young adults are often guilty of treating credit cards like free money. There is often a “charge now, worry about it later" mentality when it comes to credit card usage. Now is the time to stop. Not only is this hurting your credit score, but it's costing you a ton of money in interest. Your 20s should be a time when you start taking your finances more seriously and thinking long-term. You'll also likely be dealing with a whole new set of financial responsibilities such as rent, utilities, student loan payments, perhaps a car loan – and worrying about how you're going to pay off a high credit card balance is the last thing you need to be thinking about.
Rather than charging a vacation or nights out with friends to your credit card, take some time to create a budget and determine how much you can reasonably spend on your social life and other indulgences, while still being able to save and pay for necessities. A credit card should only be used when you know you can pay off the balance in full at the end of the month.
Take Control of Your Credit Score
Excellent credit takes years to build, so if you haven't started building a credit history, or if you haven't used your credit responsibly, now is the time to start taking charge. Your credit score is calculated based on the length of your credit history, your payment history, the amount of debt you owe, the amount of new credit accounts you have opened, and the types of credit accounts you have. You can check your credit reports and score with each of the 3 major bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax). It is in your best interest to ensure you are on the path to having a great credit score so that when the time comes to borrow money (such as when applying for a mortgage or a car loan) you'll be seen as an excellent candidate to lenders.
Create an Emergency Fund
Life is full of ups and down and unfortunately that sometimes means unexpected payments. Since funds and income are typically somewhat limited in your 20s, you don't want to suffer a major setback when an unexpected expense comes your way. Instead, open a separate savings account and designate it as your “emergency fund". Ideally, an emergency fund should cover 3-6 months' worth of expenses. While it may take some time to build up, make this a priority so that you have it ready as your “secret weapon" when you need it.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.