Millennials, the current generation of 20-somethings perhaps best known for their tech-savvy ways, are growing up. The oldest members of the group are now turning 30, which means they increasingly have adult money issues on their minds. The need for long-term savings accounts, retirement funds, debt payments, mortgage payments, and family-related costs are among the responsibilities weighing them down.
The good news is that the financial services industry wants to help. Eager for younger customers’ business, they have been busy analyzing millennials’ financial challenges and trying to figure out how they can best reach out to them. As a result, a handful of financial services companies recently released money tips for millennials. Here are five of the best ones:
Save like it’s 2009. Savings rates tend to go up during recessions, which is why personal savings rates shot up in 2009. The fear of financial instability appears to motivate people to squirrel more money into the safety of bank accounts rather than squander it on new shoes or a new smartphone. Millennials could use some of that motivation, since many have yet to start padding their bank accounts or saving for retirement.
A recent Wells Fargo Retirement Survey found that 2 in 3 millennials consider themselves “savers,” with men more likely than women to do so. Still, just over half of the group says they haven’t started saving yet — but plan to by age 30. The reason for that lack of saving? Most respondents said they simply didn’t have enough money.
Those who had found a way to start saving tended to have some help from their employers; most of those saving for retirement are using employer-sponsored plans, the survey found. Around half of those saving are putting away between 1 and 5 percent of their income, 31 percent are saving between 6 and 10 percent, and 14 percent are saving more than 10 percent. (Financial advisers generally recommend saving between 10 and 20 percent of your income over your working years, with the goal of replacing 80 percent of your income during retirement.)
Karen Wimbish, director of Retail Retirement at Wells Fargo, urges millennials to get started with saving as soon as possible in order to benefit from compounding interest. Having more money in the bank, she says, can also provide a confidence boost when it comes to achieving long-term goals.
Get over your fear of the market. Given that millennials came of age in the era of Bernie Madoff and the subprime mortgage crisis, it’s no surprise that more than half profess a lack of confidence in the market, according to the Wells Fargo survey. Women are particularly wary, with two-thirds saying they are not confident in the market. The problem with this distrust of the market is that millennials could lose out on the chance to benefit from its long-term growth. After all, millennials saving for retirement have decades to ride out any bumps.
Confront loan stress. Student loans are a huge source of worry for millennials. Most respondents cited it as their biggest financial concern in the Wells Fargo survey. The survey also found that millennials were about twice as likely as boomers to feel overwhelmed by their debt (42 percent versus 22 percent).
Chat about money on dates. Okay, maybe not the first date, but USAA financial planners suggest talking about money, and credit histories in particular, with long-term mates. USAA put out a release urging millennials to ask their partners how much debt they have, as well as get an overview of assets, before exchanging vows. The reason? A bad credit score can derail post-marriage plans, from buying a house to purchasing a new car.
Get a job, not a degree. Obtaining advanced degrees can make sense in a lot of situations, but USAA financial planners also warn against using school as a second-best option when the job market doesn’t work out. Returning to school often means building up more debt, and if the degree isn’t directly related to your future career, it might not pay off in the long run.
[See: 50 Smart Money Moves]
If you’re a millennial (or the parent of one), don’t let all these financial burdens get you down too much. Millennials might have a lot on their financial plates, but they also have a lot of financial potential.