Life is expensive for millennials, who have had more than their fair share of financial hurdles to get over. Nevertheless, financial responsibilities need to be met, and burying your head in the sand is only going to make things worse. Learning how to manage your money is the only way to achieve financial independence. Here are some financial planning tips for millennials.
Financial challenges for millennials
If you were born between 1980 and 1995 you are now in your thirties or early forties and classed as a millennial.
There’s no doubt that millennials have come of age and started their careers in financially challenging times. They have lived through the financial crisis of 2008 and its chaotic aftermath, faced student loan debt and stagnant wages along with skyrocketing rents and house prices and, to top it all, lived through a pandemic.
As the first generation of digital natives, they have also witnessed a communications revolution thanks to the rapid growth of the internet and the explosion in smartphone use. The advent of technological sharing economy platforms such as Uber, Deliveroo and Airbnb have enabled you to order cabs and food delivery at rock-bottom prices and to find holiday accommodation at the fraction of a cost of a hotel. That doesn’t exactly make up for the fact that getting on the property ladder is harder than it’s ever been, but it has perhaps softened the blow a little.
Sadly, the price of these convenient, user-friendly and, most importantly, cheap services will be going the same way as the cost of food, energy and clothing – upwards. With the era of near-zero interest rates drawing to a close, these companies won’t be able to afford to operate as they have been doing. Life’s small pleasures are about to get more expensive.
High percentage of millennials suffer from financial anxiety
With so much stacked against you, it’s no surprise that the millennial generation is plagued by financial anxiety. In a 2021 survey conducted by OnePoll for Laurel Road, 62% of Gen Z and millennials in America say they are ‘constantly stressed’ about money. And 72% say managing their finances is a strain on their mental health.
The good news is that taking control of your finances, while it may seem daunting, can help alleviate money worries, and it’s not as difficult to do as you might think.
Nine steps for millennials to take control of their finances and reduce financial anxiety
1. Get started with a financial plan
The first step towards anything is always the most difficult. Too many people put off taking control of their finances because they are overwhelmed by the prospect of paying off debts, saving for a pension, investing and sorting out life insurance. It’s just too much all at once.
However, you don’t have to have a fully-fledged plan right now. Just take the first step along the financial planning road and you’ll gain momentum as you go. Breaking money management down into the following smaller steps makes it a much easier task.
2. Map out expenses
List all your regular outgoings from rent, bills and insurance to travel and entertainment costs. Do it the old-fashioned way on a spreadsheet, or use an app but get all the information down.
3. Split the essentials from the luxuries
Decide which items of regular expenditure are essential (e.g. rent/mortgage, bills) and which are expendable (e.g. gym membership, Netflix, overly inflated monthly clothing/restaurant/bar budget!). This will help you in your budgeting if you need to cut costs in order to be able to pay off debts or save.
4. Do a debt inventory
If you have unsecured debts on personal loans and credit cards, make sure you are clear on what you owe and how much interest you pay on each debt. Your priority is to get these paid off. You may want to consider consolidating debts to make the most of zero interest balance transfer windows or lower interest rates. And do away with your cards so you aren’t tempted to spend money you don’t have.
If you’ve been struggling to pay off debts or accumulate a nest egg, it’s time to get serious with budgeting. Make some changes to your monthly expenditure to spend less on luxuries and more on getting your finances under control. This may mean cutting out some of the expendable items you pinpointed above. Decide how much you can devote to debt repayment or saving each month and stick to it.
The time to save/pay off debt is right after you get paid, particularly if you struggle with managing your money. Automate payments so money is directed where it needs to be before you can spend it elsewhere.
Always prioritise paying off unsecured debts before saving as you’ll be paying more interest than you’ll earn. However, once debt is cleared, saving should become a priority.
8. Work out your saving objectives
An emergency fund is always the first saving milestone to aim for. Having a chunk of cash easily accessible in the bank (but out of temptation’s way) offers incredible peace of mind. A financial curve ball will cease to trigger that sinking feeling that you can’t afford to sort out a problem.
Once you have a decent emergency fund (six months’ expenditure is a good amount to aim for), you’ll need to work out savings priorities. Common goals include a pension, a deposit on a home and an education fund for children.
9. Seek financial planning help
This is a good point to seek the help of a financial adviser who can not only help you clarify your short and long-term financial planning goals but will also recommend the best investment options to balance risk and return based on your profile and help you protect your wealth and your family with life insurance.
Whatever your age, if you’ve been procrastinating over financial planning, don’t waste any more time. The sooner you start to pay off debt, save and invest, the easier it will be for you to achieve financial independence. Take the first step down the road now.
For help and advice on the most effective ways to save and invest, why not contact me at email@example.com for a chat?
Chartered Financial Planner
It is my fundamental belief that financial planning makes life better. I enjoy helping my clients work towards their financial goals to give them freedom and choice.