10 things Trinis should do in their 20s
Are you on track with your life?
By your mid-20s, you're probably into your first or second job, and are looking ahead to plan for your future.
Here are 10 things you should be doing:
1. Start a pension
Most people would have gotten their first job by this time, and will be trying to balance their expenses to pay bills and enjoy a few luxuries.
However, many overlook the importance of saving for retirement or think that retirement is so far off, there’s no need to prepare now, which is a huge mistake.
Use an online pension calculator to find out how much you should save and how much you would be due to receive – preparing for your future is the most important thing you can do in your 20s. Set up a standing order (automatic payment from your main account) to make sure you do this every month.
2. File tax returns
Most people are unaware of the sums of money they’re losing out on by not filing tax returns. Yes, it’s a hassle and yes, it’s confusing, but it's a great way to get back some much-needed (and hard-earned) cash.
If tax has been deducted from your salary and you are within the personal allowance amount, you can file your tax return to recover your money. For more information see http://www.finance.gov.tt/services/income-tax/paying-your-taxes
3. Get medical coverage
Everyone gets sick, but not everyone can afford those medical bills. Depending on the type of job you have, your employer may provide medical coverage as part of your employment package. However, for others, having a basic medical coverage plan is critical. You never know what will happen, so it is worth the investment.
4. Do a five-year plan
You’re in your 20s, life is good, right? What many 20-year-olds don’t realise is that it won’t always be that way. Your five-year-plan is not only to map out your progression but also to see how you can achieve the goals you need to in realistic ways.
See what you need to do in order to push forward with your career goals. Not enough money for tuition? Try an internship or work experience - you may not receive payment, but you will receive valuable company references to add to your resume.
This isn’t just something you do in your 20s, it’s a critical life skill. Networking allows you to meet influential people that can help you with a new job or even a business idea. Choose your social outings to maximum effect to make sure you meet the right people that can help you along the way.
6. Have a side hustle
With the cost of living these days, it’s no longer sufficient to have just one job. Many jobs do not pay enough to maintain the cost of living, and even if they do, job security is a thing of the past.
Try to start a small side job in an area you’re familiar with or like. Good at math? Offer to give lessons in your spare time. Like sewing? Offer to do small jobs like raising or lowering hems, repairing buttons etc. Good at baking? Start offering weekly deals at the office. Supplementing your income is always a good idea.
7. Build your resume
Employers always want to know what you’ve been doing, and the more experience you have in various fields the more value you can add to prospective employers. Make sure you have an online presence; fill out a LinkedIn profile; these tips from Forbes can guide you on how to have an impactful profile.
8. Learn a second language
Everyone knows having a second language gives you more options, and there are many courses you can do online, many of them for free. Don’t miss out on this chance to add to your resume and impress future employers.
9. Plan your family
Many people plan careers, but do they plan their families? In T&T, the answer is, not often. Starting a family is an expensive venture and you may want to hold off until you’re more financially secure. Family planning will help you to wait before having a child so you can provide for your family when you’re ready for the next step.
10. Care for yourself
The old saying is that prevention is better than cure, which is a great motto for your body and mind. Taking care of yourself can mean your physical health, such as diet and exercise, as well as your mental health. Stay away from negative people who jeopardise your happiness (and sanity). Choose your relationships carefully to ensure you’re supported, not drained. Caring for yourself is one of the most important skills you can learn.
As an old Chinese proverb goes, 'the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is now', so take charge and plan your life.