The 20-Day Money Challenge: How to Prepare for Your Financial Future

Have you just reached adulthood and are you discovering the financial realities that await you? Or follow through on a pandemic pledge to restart the ones you already have? Now is a good time to sort them out, and the good news is that we’re here to help.

We know that your financial life often seems a lot more complicated than it should be. Finding the mental and budgetary space to start saving money when, for example, you’re struggling with a fair amount of student debt can be overwhelming. Or maybe you’ve landed a job with a living wage, but you’re not sure how to optimize your finances or what to prioritize.

Everyone’s situation is different, but there are some basic principles that apply to all of us. So we’ve picked 20 Really Essential Money Lessons, paired with simple-to-do tasks. Sign up for the 20 Day Money Challenge and we’ll send them to you, day after day, in free bites. We’ve got some banking, some investments, help with student loans and other debt management – and credit, so you can borrow with confidence if you need to. (Note that you can register for the challenge at any time.)

Why now? If you’re relatively new to adulthood or the world of work, the sooner you cover the basics, the better off you’ll feel. We’ve been there – and we’ve personally tested every 20 days of this advice during our decade of writing about money for The New York Times.

We also want to make some promises – and some suggestions – to get started.

1. No shame, no blame. Don’t understand how to invest? There are millions more like you. Do you have debts? The same is true for two-thirds of all university graduates. If you’re here, you’re already ahead of the game.

2. We will be brief. Only two minutes of reading a day, with a pretty quick task you can accomplish once you’re done. Or not! There is nothing wrong with reading these dispatches and saving them for a big day of fiscal welfare in the future when you tick off dozens of tasks on your list – or putting aside some of the ones that don’t. not yet apply, but that will be down the line.

3. Jargon is the enemy. We are trying to speak here in simple English, the way we address a brother or work friends who often (quite often, in fact) approach us to express deep confusion.

4. Sharing is caring. Silver clubs, like book clubs, are one thing. Why not form an ad hoc group of friends or colleagues to accomplish these tasks – or others you imagine – together? And of course, send it to anyone you know who needs help organizing their financial life better. (Parents of adult children, we’re talking to you.)

5. Imagine the end. You probably already know it – the glimmer of joy, the palpable relief that comes with being well sorted when you’ve paid your bills on time and there’s money in the bank. Now imagine 20 days of that – or whatever you can handle. We guarantee you a feeling of satisfaction if you spend even half of it.

OKAY? OKAY. We’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Ron Lieber was the Your money columnist since 2008 and is author or co-author of five books, including “The price you pay for college” and “The opposite of spoiled.” Tara Siegel Bernard is a personal finance reporter for the New York Times.

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