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Are millennials really bad with money? Is this something unique to this generation? Or perhaps a string of unfortunate events just happened to occur during their lifetime?
Maybe, maybe not. However, it can’t be denied that many young folks between the ages of 20 and 35 are struggling financially. Aside from student loans, millennials also have problems with budgeting, saving up for retirement, and investing.
It may seem like a huge ‘money pit’, but don’t despair! When tackled one day at a time, these financial issues can be overcome. Here’s some simple money-saving tricks that every millennial can start with:
1. Understand Your Expenses
It can be scary to know why you can’t seem to save enough regardless of how much you earn. But the more you delay, the worse it’ll get.
So get a pen and paper and list down your expenses: everything from your Netflix subscription, daily morning latte runs, to weekly groceries, and utilities. Other important things you should include are student loan debts, credit card bills, car insurance payments, etc.
Be brutally honest with yourself. This list should help you see whether you’re earning enough to support yourself and your lifestyle or not.
2. Know Where You Can Cut Costs
Once you’re done with your list, it’s time to analyze. Are you earning enough, or barely getting by? Where can you cut costs? Do you really need those $35/month subscription boxes? How about your gym membership?
Talk to customer services and see how they can help you trim down expenses on things like your phone and Internet plan, your electric bill, or your checking account. Who knows, you might find out about hidden charges that could be sucking away at your supposed savings!
Use the Web to get great deals and FREE stuff! You’ll be surprised at the number of groups, websites, and forums dedicated to saving money.
CouponsPlusDeals.com for instance, is a great resource to find all kinds of coupon codes and discounts for almost everything – from learning a skill online, to shopping for clothes, and even gift certificates for your next vacation! They constantly update their offers, so you’re sure to see a fresh deal each week.
But, what about your rent? In cities like New York, it’s very easy to over-spend on rent. Whether that’s because you didn’t do enough research, or simply because you wanted a bigger apartment without taking into consideration the added maintenance and utilities costs, either way, if you can, you should consider finding a better alternative. There are great apartments to rent in New York in boroughs like Brooklyn or Queens that can fit a lower budget and still provide almost everything you need. The same goes for every other major city. It’s all about doing your research and finding a comfortable compromise zone.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Automate
Automation can make your life less stressful. Automating your bills for example, will ensure that things like utilities are paid on time. There are even companies that offer incentives such as small discounts for customers who do this.
Savings is another thing you’ll be glad you’ve automated. Not only are you effortlessly putting a certain amount of money every payday in your account, you know you won’t be spending it on cocktails for the weekend, either.
4. Create a Budget You Can Stick To
You don’t need to stick with the 80/20 rule, nor the 50/40/10 principle if it doesn’t suit your needs. Create your own plan! Just make sure it’s something you can be consistent with.
Some millennials prefer to save 10 percent of their paycheck and spend the rest. Whereas others like to challenge themselves in how long they can stretch $100. Do what works best for YOU.
5. Use Apps
Technology is on your side – so use them to your heart’s content. Aside from popular money apps like Mint, you can also try Robinhood (for investments), Tycoon (for freelancers), Shopkick (to get giftcards), and Wally (personal budgeting).
6. Know Your Credit Score
Your credit score affects more than you know (i.e getting a loan for your small business, snagging a great apartment, financing a smartphone, etc.). So check it while it’s still early. Apps like Credit Karma not only helps you see your credit score for free, they also provide insights, personalized recommendations, and more.
7. Build Your Savings
It may seem like a daunting task – particularly for those who have huge debts – but you need to start somewhere. Don’t underestimate the power of a $1. Over time, a $1 a day can be $7 in a week, $28 in a month, and grow into $336 in a year!
Your savings shouldn’t just be ‘extra cash’ either. Ideally, financial experts advise three types of savings to build: emergency, long-term, and short-term savings.
- Emergency savings are just as the name suggests. Use it for when you need to have a leaky roof fixed, or when a loved one needs medicine right away. Start small, at around $500, and build from there.
- Short-term savings are something you may need occasionally, like for Christmas gifts, or car insurance payments.
- Long-term savings on the other hand, are meant for long haul goals, like college funds for your kids or money for a new house. Lock this in a high-interest account because you won’t be touching this for a long, long time.
8. Reward Yourself Wisely
You don’t need to eliminate things that make you happy just to save money. What you can do is think about better alternatives. You’ll be surprised how small changes can rack up to quite a lot in the end. While you might need to live on less for a while, or probably make a few sacrifices, you can still enjoy life without spending a lot.
Your daily morning lattes for example, are still possible if you bring a reusable cup to your favorite cafe. They might even shave off a few cents off your purchase if you do so! Another idea is to reserve a certain amount you’ll allow yourself to spend. This could be as little as $50 to $200 on things you love, like eating out, books, cosmetics, clothes, etc.
9. Be Comfortable with Routine
You may think that rich people are born great with money, but like habits, their knowledge with finance is most likely built up over time. But the good thing is that it’s never too late to start. Whether you’re 20 or 32, you can still develop healthy money habits.
Make your own routine that would help you save in the long run. For example: instead of quickly ordering out when you’re too tired to cook, you can spend every Sunday prepping frozen meals for the week ahead.
10. Explore Side Hustles and Passive Income
For those who would want to augment their incomes, you can do small tasks such as baby or dog-sitting, tutoring, or even answering online polls. Apps like Field Agent for instance, can help you earn extra by completing simple tasks.
If you have in-demand skills, you can create e-books for sale, make online tutorials, set-up a consultation business, and more. For those with surplus cash, you can buy real estate to rent out. If you’re interested in the stock market, you can invest and reap the dividends.
When it comes to finding opportunities to save or earn money, millennials have it made in this century. It’s all about sticking to your plan and envisioning a brighter future.