Starting your savings early and budgeting strategically now can help you have it all — fun now and financial stability later.

Take control

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Everyone regrets a wasted youth, but you can be smart about how you enjoy your teens and twenties.

Your two selves — your present self and your future self — can co-exist, but it’s up to you to find the right balance.

Simple household budgeting at an early age will put you ahead of your peers, and you’ll be amazed how you can find extra money for things you really want.

Saving early in life is far more valuable than saving later on. Starting early means that your savings can increase over a longer period of time and your wealth in the long-term will increase as well, thanks to compound interest.

Follow these 4 easy steps to jumpstart your savings.

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Step 1: Create your budget

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It's important not to feel guilty about these non-essential expenses, as long as you are planning responsibly for them.

It's not true of everyone, but Millennials tend to be less materialistic. We like authentic experiences and social connections over "things." That's great news for Millennial budgeting.

We get to skip the high cost of "keeping up with the Joneses" and focus instead on more rewarding expenses, like travel.

There are so many reasons to save money and learn to budget at an early age. If you pay attention, you'll quickly notice patterns in your spending and be able to adapt your plan — and you'll thank yourself for plugging the leaky parts of your budget sooner rather than later.

Step 2: Don't be afraid to spend - in the right ways

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You don't have to blow (or save) every dollar to enjoy life.

Everything in life exists in balance. Philosophers caught on to this idea thousands of years ago, and it still applies today.

Millennials struggle with this more than most. We have experienced what it's like to come of age in a recession and struggle with debt in an economy that just wasn't designed to help us succeed. Some of us cope by ignoring the future, while others save every penny they can.

Both of these strategies are a mistake. You don't have to blow (or save) every dollar you get to enjoy life.

There's nothing wrong with budgeting for fun and fulfillment while allowing your savings to grow and eventually work for you. And there's lots of options to reinvest even modest savings, so your wealth can continue to increase.

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Step 3: Trust yourself

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Your goals should be a reflection of what you want to acheive.

Everyone is different, and only you will be able to find your right balance between saving and spending. As you grow older, you'll find that people are quick to say that you spend too much or too little. It's a bit like driving; we all believe our speed is the right one, and everyone else is a slowpoke or a maniac.

It comes down to goals. What do you want to achieve in both the short term and the long term? And how much do you need to save to get there? The answers to those questions are your budget guidelines, no matter what anyone else has to say about it.

Budgeting is never one-size-fits-all, so trust in yourself to know what's worth the spend and what's an opportunity for saving.

Step 4: Start now, not later

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Start now. Your future self will thank you for it.

Millennials have it harder than previous generations, but that doesn't mean we don't have a future. Starting your savings now — even if it's just a small amount each month — is an absolute necessity.

Don't just leave your money sitting in your chequing account. A savings account will earn you much better interest. For example, if you open a savings account with Tangerine right now, you can get a special 2.8% interest rate for the first five months and solid interest after that.

Better yet, invest. We don't have the same kind of earning and buying power as our parents, so investing early is one way to catch up and reach the same standard of living.

It doesn't have to be complicated. You can invest using an automated service like Wealthsimple, so you don't have to micromanage or pay some high-priced broker. Plus, MoneyWise readers get their first $10,000 managed for free for a year.

The earlier you start saving, the better your returns. Your future self will thank you.

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About the Author

Sarah Cunnane

Sarah Cunnane

Former Staff Writer

Sarah Cunnane was formerly a staff writer at MoneyWise. She is a writing and marketing professional with an Honors Bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Toronto.

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