For many, their 20s are the time of their lives. Those with a college degree see endless possibilities — they’re ready for the world. But it’s also a critical time financially.

Here’s what to aim for in your 20s.

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  • Save, save, save: Build at least three to six months’ of expenses for emergencies. While that’s challenging at this stage of life, “do the best you can,” says Tom Scanlon, a certified financial planner with Raymond James in Manchester, Connecticut.
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Though retirement is years away, contribute to your company’s 401(k) and to a Roth or traditional IRA on your own. “If you don’t save for retirement early, you’re doing yourself a major disservice,” says David Hryck, an attorney with Reed Smith in Manhattan, specializing in wealth planning. The sooner you save, the more you benefit from compounding.

  • Keep debt to a minimum: Begin paying student loans, even if it means getting into an income-based repayment plan. “This is especially important if your loans are unsubsidized. The interest accruing over years of deferment, forbearance or default can be crushing,” says Stephanie Genkin, a certified financial planner in Brooklyn.
  • Get rid of credit card debt: Having little or no debt helps your credit score, which is key when you buy a car or rent an apartment. What’s the best way to avoid debt? “Ask yourself, Do I need this, will it improve my life?” says Michael Thaler, a senior partner with Sanders Thaler Viola & Katz, LLP in Jericho.
  • Be entrepreneurial: Ash Exantus, a financial empowerment coach at BankMobile in Manhattan, says, “Give yourself added security. Start a profitable side business. You have the energy and time.”