Money Tips for Millennials

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Millennials and Money

Millennials follow a different path than generations before them, in more ways than one. This group is reaching milestones later in life, such as getting married and starting families, and focusing on life experiences more. We’ve been given all the job advice in the world growing up; the thought that all you need to do is work hard to make it big. However, someone along the way forgot to give more tips on money, especially given the difficulty of finding a job, especially in their field of study, for many millennials.

Although unemployment rates have been decreasing in recent years, millennials still make up roughly 40% of the unemployed in the United States, according to this Newsweek article. This fact can make it difficult for this generation to get ahead, but the good news is there are ways to leverage your finances even if you feel you are working a dead-end job.

Here are four money tips for millennials that I’ve used to help my own finances:

Make saving a social thing. 

I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least five friends off the top of my head who have yet to get that raise at work. While we all love hanging out together, sometimes that involves extra spending that we really should not be doing. But, a way to spend just as much time together without emptying your bank account is to take turns hosting a girls’ night in. Buying some cheap wine and snacks accompanied by some movies and laughter is a great alternative for a night on the town, which can be $81 per night on average.

Also, the crew can ban together to do money-free weekends together. Even if you are not physically hanging out, you can still help to keep one another accountable. Plus, it’s great to have an excuse to bond with friends, especially over common goals.

Create other streams of income. 

If you recognize that you are in a dead-end job, hopefully you are taking steps to get out in order to improve your financial situation. If you are having a difficult time finding a new job (another post for another day), another option would be to create some other sources of revenue as you continue the search.

Seasonal jobs are a great option for millennials as they are often a bit more flexible, but you can also offer to use some skills or talents you currently have to gain some extra income. House cleaning, babysitting and the like are all great ways to make cash fast, but you can also consider freelancing, especially if you want to land that dream job.

Get techy with it. 

Investing seems so unattainable and intimidating before you actually start doing it, not to mention it can also be risky. But, it is a great way to grow your wealth. There are so many online tools you can use now to improve your financial portfolio without the intimidation. These resources cost very little to get started and are great for millennials. The best part is many of them allow you to create your own minimum investment amount, giving you more control over than ever.

Be smart with your options. 

In desperate times, you may be tempted to apply for a payday loan or sign up for another credit card to pay off other expenses; however, by doing so, you are only creating more debt for yourself. These quick options may be easy to get, but they dig your hold even deeper. Don’t get caught up in these fast solutions to solve all your problems; instead develop a strategic and specific plan that will get you out of debt and get you ahead. This plan may include automating a monthly savings amount, consolidating current debt, starting a retirement fund, and cutting back on leisurely spending.

This is another reason why having an emergency savings fund is so important; it will keep you away from wanting to (or needing to) resort to these choices. Avoid accumulating credit card debt and instead work on building your assets and net worth.


 

Millennials definitely have had to face many challenges economically that may not have been expected or predicted by previous generations. By spending some time being careful about your finances, though, you can slowly but surely build a reliable and steady financial future for yourself.

These are just a few ways I’ve focused on improving my finances. What have you done that works for you?

 

 

 

 

A Personal Finance Checklist To Kick Off Your 30’s

A personal finance checklist can help you achieve financial goals.

A personal finance checklist can help you achieve future goals.

A personal finance checklist can be useful to ensure you are on well on your way to achieving financial success (or even simply evaluating where you stand).

Your 20’s are a great time to figure your life (and yourself) out. By the time you are 30, though, you should ideally have much of your life in order. Today’s millennials do tend to take longer to get married and start their lives, as recent reports show, but in order to set yourself up for your later years, you should analyze and improve your finances now.

I just celebrated my 29th birthday at the end of April, which encouraged me to reflect on my life experiences thus far and consider the future. The last decade was focused on enhancing and nurturing my career and my personal life along with developing myself as a full-blown adult. Basically, I spent the last 10 years getting my life in order.

As I prepare for a new decade, it’s time to take the next steps for my future. One of the first steps includes using my own personal financial checklist to accomplish over the next year in order to achieve more of my financial goals. With each milestone, my monetary ambitions change, and yours should too. I’ve already accomplished some of these topics and others still need improvement. As you begin to map out your own, this personal finance checklist will hopefully help you in more ways than one as well:

Budgeting 

  • If you have not already created a budget for yourself, you should do this first and foremost. Tracking your income and expenses is definitely not fun, but it does help to keep you in check and help you build wealth.

Reduce your debt 

  • By the time I was 27, I had paid off my car and two credit cards. My credit score not only went up significantly following these achievements, but I was able to use the money I was using toward this debt to increase my savings account. While I still have my student loan debt I am working on, my credit cards were my top priority to pay off as their interest rates tend to be higher than student loans. I’ve been able to pay more than the minimum amount each month over the last few years with less debt hanging over my shoulders though.

Save for retirement 

  • If you have not been lucky enough to have a 401(k) or similar retirement plan with your job, it’s time to open your own Roth IRA or another retirement savings account option. If you do have a 401(k) with your employer, start contributing more toward this fund. Ask your employer about a match program they may offer and do what you need to do in order to take advantage of this benefit. If you can swing it, you could invest in a separate plan as well as following one with work.
    • How much should you put toward retirement? A common recommendation is a minimum of 10% of your income. If that does not seem feasible at this time, especially with other savings plans you may be contributing to, such as an emergency fund, shoot for 2-5% and work your way up to the 10% goal.

Diversify your financial portfolio

  • As you reach your 30’s, this becomes important to include on your finance checklist. Mix up your investments through stocks, bonds and the like. Before going into such a venture blindly, be sure to do your research and even consult with a financial adviser or stock broker.

Plan for the future

  • No one ever wants to really think about dying or life emergencies, but the fact of the matter is, anything can happen to any of us at any time. As you begin to build financial stability, consider starting a family and reach more life milestones, you will want to contemplate the following:
    • Life insurance. Having a life insurance plan for you (and your spouse, regardless of whether or not he or she works) will be imperative in making any hurdles life throws your or your family’s way a little easier to deal with.
    • Naming beneficiaries on your accounts. Appointing your assets to various people in the event of your passing may not seem necessary at this point in your life, but you need to be prepared for anything. If you are not married and do not have a family of your own, you will want to consider leaving your financial accounts and any assets to your parents or siblings. Your beneficiaries will most likely change and need updated multiple times throughout your life, but get it started now so that it is not a worry later.
    • Estate planning. You do not need to be wealthy in order to start your estate planning. Get a power of attorney and a health care proxy to act on your behalf should you become debilitated and/or lose the ability to make your own decisions. Doing this will ensure you still have a full say in what happens particularly to you and your family.
    • Disability insurance. Regardless of age, you should be prepared for any event in life. If something happens that causes you to no longer be capable of working, disability insurance will provide you with a source of income.

Have a financial plan with your significant other

  • Married or not, live-in couples and relationships that openly discuss finances tend to have a higher success rate in surviving the partnership. Talk to your significant other about a financial plan and goals and compromise when needed.
    • Not married or living with a significant other? Create your own financial plan and be as specific with it as possible.

While a personal finance checklist may seem a bit daunting, it does not have to be all work and no play. It is still important to remember to splurge on yourself from time to time. As you become more financially responsible (and stable), you will find this much easier to do without placing much stress on your bank account.

Start a new decade off right with this personal finance checklist as a beginning point. If you are already in your 30’s and have yet to incorporate any of the above items, take some time to begin including these in your life goals and plan.

What would you add to the list?

 

Investment Strategies For Recent College Grads

Investment strategies for recent college grads.

Investment strategies for recent college grads.

Investment strategies should be one of your top priorities upon graduating college.

For those preparing to graduate from college this month, this post is for you.

If you have been following us, you may have read last week’s post regarding financial mistakes to avoid upon leaving your past four years of sanctuary. This week, we would like to discuss wise investment strategies for you as you (hopefully) begin interviewing more and potentially accepting promising job offers.

If you did not study finance or economics in your undergrad and you have never consulted with a financial planner, investing may seem like a foreign concept to you.

In addition to what we discussed last week, here are some ways you can set yourself up for a promising financial future:

Create a personal spending budget.

By not having a budget for yourself, you are more likely to spend more than you make each month as you begin to see an increase in your bank account thanks to your new job. However, holding yourself accountable will prevent any slip –ups as well as promoting positive spending and saving habits for your future. When everyone tells you to start now, they really are not kidding.

Set up your Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

If you’re lucky enough to land a job that offers a 401K, be sure to always add to it to help increase its value, even if your employer matches. The more you add in now, the better for your future. If you are among the many who do not receive this as a benefit with their place of employment, open an IRA now. A summary of what to look for in a retirement savings account includes:

  • First, there are two types: the Traditional and the Roth. Contributions to Traditional IRAs are tax deductible, but withdrawals during retirement are taxed. Roth IRAs are not tax deductible, but withdrawals are generally tax-free. In other terms, you avoid taxes when you put money in to Traditional IRAs, and you avoid taxes when you take money out in Roth IRAs during retirement.
  • No-fee IRA’s. Some charge you for simply holding an account with them known as a “custodial fee.” You will want to ask your institution if they charge any fees for hosting the IRA.
  • Additional charges. Another question you will want to ask your custodian is whether or not they charge any kind of transaction fee. These are typically charged when you go through a financial adviser to purchase your mutual fund. Be sure to also inquire about other fees that may be associated like contract charges.

It’s often recommended for those starting out their investment portfolio with limited funds to begin with a Traditional IRA. A concern is that individual tax fees for Traditional IRAs could be higher but is not guaranteed. You will want to weigh out all your options with both in order to determine what is best for you.

Ignore Get-Rich-Quick Schemes.

If something seems extremely complicated, it probably is. As a newbie to the world of investing follow the K.I.S.S. rule (“Keep It Simple Stupid”). Choose one source and keep it simple. Over time, you can grow your net worth, but it will be hard to accomplish if you don’t understand what’s happening to your money.

Don’t be afraid to purchase used items first.

The goal and purpose of growing your investment portfolio is to decrease debt. As a college graduate, you will already have loans unfortunately accumulated on your shoulders upon stepping foot off that campus for the last time as a student. So, buy used items and live below your means. You will work your way to having those nicer items much faster by choosing to spend less now.

Know your assets.

In this previous post, we discussed what comprises of an asset and what does not. In summary, an asset is something that puts money in your pocket; not removes it. Consider this as you make big purchases over the next few years.

Choose the right savings account.

If you are already excellent at saving money, that’s awesome! But, did you know you can make it a little more worth your while? Have your savings pay you back by choosing the right type of account to increase your investment will waive some worries for you in the future. Some to consider are:

  • Online Savings Account: Earning potential is higher.
  • Money Market Deposit Accounts: Despite minimum balance requirements and monthly fees, the interest paid is typically higher than that of traditional savings accounts.
  • Certificates of Deposit (CDs): Another opportunity for higher interest rates paid, but limitations do apply for withdrawals.
  • Automatic Savings Plans: Can help you obtain lower banking fees.

As always, and with any choices you make, be sure to do your research and ask a lot of questions to see what fits you best.

Invest in an emergency fund.

This may not seem important, but with the economy so up and down, you will want to be prepared for the worst. I’ve heard of several stories of companies going under or downsizing, leaving individuals back on a job hunt in an increasingly competitive market. In fact, the company I did my undergraduate internship with closed down several offices, leaving no opportunities for me upon graduating. I watched co-workers one by one receive the unfortunate talk. There is also the possibility of being fired, which I have also heard of from individuals who seemingly held a strong position in their occupation. It happens, and you need to be prepared. The recommended strategy is to save six months of savings to keep you afloat in case of an emergency.

Invest in higher payments to your student loans.

Only paying the minimum on your student loans will keep them hanging over your head longer, and thus, keeping more debt in your life longer. The average time it takes for a college grads pay off student loan debt is 21 years. It doesn’t have to be this way though.


 

Make your future better and financially more stable through these tactics and tips.

Do you already have an investment strategy in place for when you graduate?