Millennials and Money
Every generation has its own attitudes, values, and characteristics. One of the largest generations in history is the millennial generation, even bigger than the Baby Boomer generation. Millennials were born anywhere from 1980 to 2000 and have an estimated population of 92 million. Millennials have adapted and endured in a post-recession economy, their social and global values have inspired change in the labor market, and now one-third of Millennials are living in a parent’s home.
For the first time in the Modern Era, this is the most common living arrangement for 18 to 34-year-olds. This new normal has not come without its challenges. Many are saddled with student loans, consumer debt, and a serious lack of savings – both emergency and retirement. The silver lining? Living at home provides some much desired financial breathing room, just when it’s needed most.
If you’re a Millennial looking for a launching pad to independence, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time at home:
- Befriend your budget. Keep track of what goes in and what goes out regularly and realistically. You’ll be able to identify spending habits worth adjusting so you can grow your savings where you need it most. Consider going on a spending freeze. For example, instead of going on a shopping spree with your friends, have a clothing swap where you shop in each other’s closets; this keeps your wardrobe fresh and allows you to relax and mingle with your friends while saving money.
- Get a handle on your student loans and other high-interest debt. Not unlike a mortgage, you’re in for the long haul when it comes to student debt. Talk to your lender about your repayment options and adjustments, and make sure you can afford what you’re paying each month. If you have credit card debt, work on paying this debt off pretty quickly, so you will have more money to put towards your other goals.
- Set pragmatic goals, and plan for them. How can you best leverage your time at home? Save for a security deposit for your solo space and build an emergency fund to handle life events as they happen. Make compound interest work for you by getting ahead in retirement savings. Need that extra motivation? Make a commitment to yourself to save by taking the America Saves pledge . Most importantly, set financial goals and make them specific.
- Ramp up repayment. Get ahead of interest on your consumer debt (and/or student loans) by breaking up your payments biweekly or adding one additional payment per year.
- Check in on the health of your credit. A recent report found that young adults are less likely to have accessed their free credit score than older generations. Knowing more about how credit scores work and having a healthy credit score can put you in a better spot to reach your goals and save you a bundle along the way. Not sure where to start? Try the Credit Score Quiz to boost your credit score knowledge.
Tammy G. Bruzon works for America Saves, managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at AmericaSaves.org.