Baby boomers, Gen X, and millennials have very different financial experiences. When compared to baby boomers or Generation Xers, millennials have it rough when it comes to finances. They enter the labor force when full-time jobs are few and far between, making the strive for financial independence, marriage, or retirement even harder.
In addition, they have an overwhelming student loan debt that prevents them from achieving their financial goals. Even worse, those who are already working are barely making enough money to cover their bills. Never mind savings. Data from Smartasset show that the average salary of the millennial today is about 20 percent lower than the average salary that a baby boomer earned at the same age.
These unique set of financial challenges make it difficult for millennials to build up rainy day savings or establish themselves financially. For instance, a study by the National Institute on Retirement Security found that 66.2% of working millennials have no retirement savings because they hold off savings in favor of paying off student debt or buying homes.
In contrast, prior generations, Gen Xers and baby boomers exhibit far more financial confidence, thanks to their higher salaries, employer-sponsored retirement plans, and years of soaring markets, which enabled them to plan their financial future.
A Sea of Financial Traps
Another reason why the financial prospects of millennials are less than those of their parents is that they often make bad investments. The quest to live in the here and now and to enjoy life to the fullest has millennials spending money they don’t have to buy items they don’t need.
For instance, some millennials consider buying a new car as against a used one a status symbol. Same goes for luxury cars, expensive houses, premium cable package, leased cars, etc. It’s either these or they are overspending or living a frivolous lifestyle that makes it harder for them to put money toward their top priorities.
The lack of basic financial education also comes at a cost, as does lack of financial goals, their spending without a plan, falling for scams, taking on more student loan than is necessary, rushing into investing or not investing at all. All of these issues delay the ability millennials to secure their financial future. Even worse, it makes them more susceptible to economic vulnerability.
Staying on Track
Millennials will do well to consider measures that will help them climb out of debt quickly, especially if they are to make progress towards their financial goals of building a stable future. Good thing is, they have time in their favor, and so can make the most of that time to improve their finances.
To stay on track, one should first of all design strategies that will prevent them from falling into the bad habit of spending too much or living beyond their means. If you’re the kind of millennial who doesn’t have much or is in debt, your goal should be to earn more and spend less.
This means cutting costs, saving a certain amount every paycheck, establishing a side hustle, having a realistic budget, and buying only the things you need. Also, you should consider hiring a finance expert to help you set financial goals and advise you on how best to invest your money.
About investing, you might want to avoid investing in depreciating assets like cars, which tend to lose 75 percent of their original value within the first 3-4 years. Don’t put a brand new car in your garage if you think that will strain your budget. Instead, consider getting a used car and saving the balance or investing it in a profitable venture.