Many older generations believe millennials to be poor budgeters and decision makers who don’t consider, or care to consider, their financial futures beyond tomorrow’s trip to get Thai food. While that may be the case for a select number of those under 35, millennials do not have to ascribe to this stereotype and, even on a limited budget, can begin saving for their futures. Below are some helpful tips for getting your money organized and putting some away for your future, even on the tightest of budgets.
- Budget, budget, budget – One thing is for certain, while all millennials may not be financially incompetent, they are almost all technologically adept. And in today’s world, it’s simple to track your spending and stop living paycheck to paycheck, right from your smartphone. Whether you track your funds and spending on your bank’s app, or use an outside app as a budgeting tool, it’s vital to consider what’s coming in, what’s going out, and what habits you can change to have more to set aside.
- Pay yourself first – Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean every payday you get to go buy a new shirt or gadget. Rather, every paycheck, set aside a small percentage (5%) for an emergency fund and another 10% for a retirement fund. If your company offers a retirement fund and matching contributions, it is absolutely vital to contribute, even if the funds only amount to 3% of your annual salary. If you don’t have a 401(k) option, consider opening a Roth IRA and begin saving on your own. Even setting aside an amount as small as $25 a month can mean thousands for your future, if you stay diligent.
- Talk about your finances – Whether you’re married or single, find someone you trust to discuss your finances with who can keep you accountable. This could mean you and your spouse regularly keep track of your spending and cash flow, reminding each other when slips occur, or it could look like sitting down with a parent, friend or outside source whose financial acumen you admire, asking for help/accountability. Having someone to remind you of your goals, pushing you to stay on track, will always prove beneficial.
- Steer clear of the “lifestyle” shift – For many, a new job or a raise might make them think they’ve “earned” a bigger apartment, or can put more in their vacation or entertainment funds. While rewarding yourself is healthy now and again, rather than sending that extra cash straight out the door, consider creating a S.M.A.R.T financial goal (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound), and begin putting funds aside to save for that goal. So whether it’s saving for your first house, buying a new car or just adding more to your retirement fund, don’t jump right in when finances increase, plan and save with clear goals in mind.
Budgeting well and saving is process that takes commitment and continuity, but with proper tracking and monitoring, and some strong accountability, anyone can achieve their financial goals and begin putting money away for the future.