By Dominic Salacki, Staff Writer
The millennial generation is gradually becoming the most impactful generation in human history. Born between 1980 and 2000, the millennials are either headed towards or have already reached their prime spending years as independence and adulthood take ground. At the same time, more and more millennials are choosing to attend college, opening up the dangers of lifelong debt.
But with some helpful tips on managing money and reducing debt, you can achieve a more stable sense of personal finance.
According to a report published out of the Filene Research Institute, 66 percent of all Millennials have at least one source of outstanding long-term debt from sources such as student loans, home mortgage, car loans.
“Among the 2,124 college-educated respondents in our sample, a staggering 81% have at least one source of outstanding long-term debt, and 44% have more than one source,” reported Annamaria Lusardi and Carlo de Bassa Scheresberg from the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at George Washington University School of Business. “In other words, a sizable share (if not the major share) of young adults’ financial decision making has to do with debt and debt management.”
One age-old tactic that millenials should consider for managing this large, long-term debt is to save part of your monthly income.
According to a study by HowMuch.net, nearly one-fifth of all millennials (18%) have between $1,000 and $5,000 saved. Putting away a little income from each paycheck into savings is a smart way to build up some financial stability for the future. I hear a lot about college students wasting too much of their paycheck on frivolous purchases and expensive night-clubbing. Don’t use it all up; put a little bit away each time and you’ll be surprised by how much you can save for the future.
But while saving each month is a great start on your way to saving big, some say it is the modern equivalent of stuffing cash under the mattress. In checking or savings accounts, it accrues little interest. Instead, Stefanie O’Connell, the author of “The Broke and Beautiful Life,” a personal finance guide for millennials, encourages you to invest.
“A lot of investment of time and money is still going back into their careers and into being flexible and maintaining their options, rather than long-term retirement savings or saving for a home down payment,” O’Connell said.
O’Connell suggests millennials balance their savings between an emergency fund (equal to three to six months-worth of expenses) in their checking or savings account, an exchange-traded fund (ETFs are mutual funds that track stock market indexes) to save for the medium-term and a retirement account. O’Connell also recommends that millennials try to put away about 20 percent of their income each month.
For Us, By Us:
In a LinkedIn article, Enterprise Software Sales Professional, Nissar Ahamed, helps a selected group of millennials share their stories and ideas on how they managed to become debt-free in less than a decade. Aliases have been used to protect identities.
Mr. M is a hardware design engineer for a large consumer electronics company who graduated with $45,000 in debt. Post-grad, Mr. M was working for a small engineering company where he had little to no potential of progressing in job status or salary. So after switching over to a bigger corporation that allowed room for promotions, Mr. M began to change his life by managing his expenses wisely.
“Cut expenses to the bare minimum, separating want from need and [realize] that a year or two of living on a shoestring budget would be for the greater-good and would enable a stress-free future,” Mr. M said.
Along with quitting eating out and drinking anything but water, Mr. M not only saved significantly, he also maintained his health. His advice is to build a budget and stick to it; build a spreadsheet with your expenses. Once you see where all the money is going, it is quite an eye-opener.
“I don't spend money, I don't need to and as a result am on pace to comfortably retire by age 52,” Mr. M said.
In another story, Ms. B had made a lot of sacrifices growing up, keeping up with her jobs and studies most of the time, and unfortunately leaving out time for a social life. Working since sixth grade, studying her butt off, living on a budget, and winning a couple scholarships were some early-life aspects of how Ms. B managed to stay debt-free.
“Growing up, my parents were very upfront with me about finance,” Ms. B said, “So I knew from an early age that I needed to start saving and planning.”
Ms. B’s advice is to work really hard and recognize that you need to make sacrifices.
“During high school and college, I basically cut all fun out of my life in order to work hard and get ahead,” Ms. B said. “It's a sacrifice I made to be successful and graduate debt-free. I now have a great job and a comfortable lifestyle which wouldn't have been possible unless I made those sacrifices up front. Now I'm able to take month-long vacations to places like Thailand or London without thinking about it. I decided to spend my late 20s making memories after working so hard in my teens and early 20s. To me, that makes it worth it.”
And to think, this millennial was able to achieve so much through sheer will and determination, beginning with the warm and proper guidance from her parents at an early age. This goes to show that parenting is everything nowadays. The moral upbringing from a parental standpoint has a massive effect on how your children will live their lives when they mature. So we must make a pact to pay it forward by counseling our younger generations into living smarter and to make plans for the future.