Smartest ways to invest in my 20s?

Hi all,

Wanted to post in this sub to get some advice. I am 24M currently based in Texas and originally immigrated here in 2008. I am employed as contracts admin specialist (in EPC industry) and roughly making 68K a year, started at 64K out of college in March 2022, got a raise in March 2023 to 68K (~5%). Was told that this was a significant increase and more than what most receive.

My background is in Industrial Distribution Engineering and a minor in business. I kind of got lucky with the role I have because finding an employer that was willing to sponsor my visa was very difficult. Which is where things get interesting, I have finished my undergraduate and can only stay in the country as long as I am a full time student. So I am currently pursing a MBA (online) to fulfill this requirement while working full time. My current employer has educational assistance program where they pay up to 5K of tuition per year (granted I pass all courses) and I have roughly 15K in tuition fees each year. They are also filing for my H1-B visa to (fingers-crossed) get selected in the lottery system which has some associated costs as well that are incurred to the company. This is an ongoing process where the lottery is done 1-2 times a year so I am waiting for the window next year. To add to that, I will have to pursue another Masters degree if I am not selected in the lottery next year to continue my stay here in the USA.

Now keeping all that in mind…

I would appreciate any advice on how I can set myself up for financial freedom as a first generation immigrant. I currently have no outstanding debt, roughly 50K saved up and minimal expenses living with family. I am putting about 5% of my paycheck into employer 401K and have a 5% match. However, now I have reached a point where I don’t know what approach would be suitable for me and those around me have very different financial circumstances. My office is moving nearly an hour away from me in about 8 months, and I will need to move closer….should I rent or buy house? What should be my budget? If buying, should I wait for interest rates to drop? How much should I have saved for deposit and expenses? What is a better option single family or duplex or 3 story townhome?

Recently, I have started feeling like I am being underpaid but have not made any decision to switch just yet since we recently had our personal assessments which will be reflected in salary changes by the beginning of next year. I had someone start roughly two weeks before me with nearly 10K over me because he had left his previous employer to switch and negotiated up…plus he was referred by the managers friend. And on top of that he was sent off to site along with a new hire after me (with less experience) where there is more exposure, money and experience. I feel like I have not had the the same opportunities to grow but it maybe I am trying to rush into things….

In summary, I am doing an MBA with 15K tuition, making 68K as a contracts admin (1.5 years in industry), please advise on what I can do to set myself up financial freedom:

– Should I be investing in Roth IRA? Why and how much? Through which website? Any specific index funds to invest in?

– What are other ways I can invest in myself as an individual to be financially independent? I am working full time and doing MBA, what sort of timeline can I use?

In summary, based on the above what investment advice would you have for me? What can I do to improve my personal finances and set myself up for early retirement?

Please let me know of any questions that you may have and looking forward to the responses!