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In this video, one woman lists the money advice she should have listened to in her early 20s — and where she is now because of it.

Based on an article by Alexandra Soto

Through weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

Video narration by Khayra Lewis

Video by Grace Lee

The Financial Diet site:

This week's video is sponsored by Fidelity Investments.

We all hear the same advice when we start our career, and it's time to take full financial responsibility for ourselves. Make a budget, pack lunch, skip the latte.

Here are the pieces of money advice I ignored early on in my career and how that still affects me now at age 26. Number one, make a budget and stick to it. It seems like such simple advice, but it could be a hard habit to keep up with when you're not used to tracking your spending or tallying up your daily purchases.

My first job out of college paid a $43K salary. Paying rent was always a challenge. I went without Wi-Fi at home and passed on countless outings with friends.

Looking back, all of that could have been avoided if I set a budget for myself. Instead of spending $20-plus a day on coffee, lunch delivery, and a casual drink after work, I could have avoided stressing over bills, started saving, or chipped away at student loans, all of which would have helped my finances now almost five years later. Number two, talk about money with your partner.

My only relationship in my early 20s was initially long-distance. We never openly spoke about money because it seemed like we were both doing OK. Our apartments were paid for, we had newer cars, and we were consistently going out with friends.

When we visited each other, whoever was hosting would foot the bill for food and entertainment costs. Personally, it was a struggle to cover days worth of activities for two people during those visits, but it seemed fair to divide it up this way. I felt anxiety around the cost, but ignored in an attempt to build fun memory-packed weekends.

I assumed my partner wasn't feeling the same pressure. He seemed cool, calm, and collected when swiping his credit card. Years later, we began living together and still hadn't openly spoken about our income, debt, or financial goals.

I learned at that point that most of his income was being allocated to debt repayment, including credit card debt, student loans, and a car loan. Ultimately, this caused many of our shared expenses to fall solely onto me. This single-handedly had the biggest negative impact on my finances in my early 20s and could have been easily avoided by following some basic money advice.

Number three, build your credit responsibly. I avoided this for years. At 18, I opened up a store credit card.

Thanks, but no thanks, Victoria's Secret, which gave me a terrible first experience with credit cards. I signed up because of the immediate incentives, like free or heavily discounted merchandise. But at 18, with a part-time and low-wage retail job, I quickly got in over my head and ended up paying hundreds of dollars in interest over a couple of years.

So I adamantly avoided a new line of credit until I was 22. I noticed I'd be passed over when applying for apartments because my credit score was low, only a small amount of credit history, closed account, et cetera. I eventually got a single credit card to consistently use over the next five years.

Between regular student loan payments and responsible use of the new credit card, my credit started slowly building and improving. This helped me apply for apartments with ease and secure a great interest rate on a car loan years later. Lesson learned.

Only use a credit card to buy things you can already afford. Doing so can help build a high credit score with time and consistency. Number four, find a side hustle.

I wholly avoided this in my early 20s. I was happy to be done with the grind of overlapping school, internships, and part-time work. I thought my full-time job should be enough to provide for myself.

And most the time it was. But why spend free time bored at home when you can be walking dogs, or freelance writing, or thrifting reselling clothes. Even though I didn't desperately need the extra money, this advice came in handy years later when I was able to put more money towards student loans, pay off credit cards, and feel less guilt when I wanted to make bigger purchases.

I still think about how much more I could have paid off if I started sooner and how it could have snowballed to help me with my goals now. The same financial advice is shared again and again on Instagram accounts, blogs, and countless podcasts, all aimed at young adults trying to find their financial footing. We all make mistakes in the process.

Still, it's possible to recover and even thrive when you learn why this advice is important. As I mentioned, this video is sponsored by Fidelity Investments. They are here to help you reach your savings goals.

And if you're looking for an easy way to finally start investing what you save, check out Fidelity.