Jessica Carroll, 22, splits her time between college and two part-time jobs. Neither pays benefits. "While I have the things I need and am a success with my budgeting, my financial life is also a very hard struggle to balance," Carroll said.
On a starting salary, a single emergency can wreak financial havoc. Carroll, who lives in Garrett, Indiana, bought a house for $56,000. It seemed to be in great shape, but she found out after purchasing it that it needed a new furnace. That same week, a tree fell on her car, totaling it. Together, these occurrences emptied her emergency fund.
Carroll's social life has taken a hit because of her tight work and school schedule. "It is not easy by any means," she said.
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Chastain names three tasks to master in your 20s: Find your own comfort level with debt, "what are you willing and not willing to go into debt for"; understand your earning potential; and choose the right people. "It's important to have loving relationships and people that support you," she said.
Carroll says her parents are great role models who taught her good financial habits, as well as being generous with support and even some occasional elbow grease. "There is no way that I would be able to do any of the choices I have made without them," Carroll said.
A certain amount of luck is helpful. A bank internship turned out to be a blessing. Carroll applied to be a teller and was offered the marketing position, which she loves. Learning the field has helped her to look at ads differently and broadened her perspective.