Budgeting for the Millennial
Being a millennial I’m always getting money advice from my older counterparts, a lot of it makes no sense to me ( still don’t understand the stock market ) or almost impossible ( how can I save half of my paycheck when most of my paycheck is rent??) A lot of the advice I receive doesn’t take those variables into account or the fact that millennials are just living differently. For example, Millennials attend college way more than previous generations, almost a quarter of 18 to 34 year old’s have a bachelors degree or higher. That’s great right? Kind of. 71% of those degree holders, myself included took out student loans the median debt hovering near 27k. Millennials are also living in cities, more than any other generation with this comes the higher cost of living and less disposable income.
On top of our debt and city living, we millennials are making less money than prior decades. Despite our expensive college degrees, we are making 4k less annually than that same age group did in 2000, add that to our student loan debt and our high rise apartments ( if we’re so lucky ) and you will find the average millennials net worth is negative $3,472 that is scary. Taking all of this into account it’s a no brainer that we have a hard time following what our parents would call traditional saving. After paying rent, utilities, food and maybe a night out here and there were barely left with any money to save if we wanted to. All hope may not be lost, I’ve put together some tips that may relieve some of our saving stress that we can relate to.
1. Get a roommate or move back home.
Splitting rent and utilities is one of the most significant ways to save money living in the city. I get it, living with a roommate is not always ideal, but neither is trying to decide between having power or water, the financial benefit is undeniable. If it comes down to it you can still move back home with mom and dad, most of us did it for 18 years it’s not the glamorous option but its affordable.
2. Skip the Starbucks
I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear this one. Spending 4-5 dollars a day on my green tea latte is running me upwards two grand a year! Instead, opt for a coffee pot and make it home. I think we will survive without Starbucks in our life momentarily.
3. Let the little things add up
I truly believe the small things add up, get basic cable instead of premium channels. Everything is on YouTube anyway! Turn off the lights before you leave for work, don’t let the water run if it doesn’t need to be and filling up your car in cheaper areas for gas. Immediately it won’t feel like you made a huge change, but consistency is critical for savings to grow over time. Don’t drastically change your life, but our dads might have been right. Put on a sweater in the winter time instead of turning up the heat and watching our energy bills skyrocket.
Lastly, Automate! If you can’t seem to save on your own try taking the technology route and finding an app that will do it for you. I like to use Digit, it monitors your spending habits and when it decides you can safely afford it, transfers a small amount of money to a savings account within the app. Sometimes it saves as low as .25 for me, but over time it continues to add up.
It might feel like the universe is against us millennials planning a comfortable future for ourselves, but its possible with discipline and acknowledging what living within our means looks like.