In a time where more than half of the nation’s young adults are struggling to find full-time jobs after graduating college, taking the proper steps to ensure a financially stable future has never been more important — or more challenging. We have survived the Great Recession, the housing market crash and the troubles of Wall Street, but what does this mean for our future?
New research from Fidelity Investments suggests that the ’08 crisis has scared our generation into saving more for our future, stating that 64 percent of millennials now save more systematically than they did pre-crisis.
Here are a few ways some millennials are starting to gear up for future financial success despite the financial meltdown we grew up in:
Contributing to a Retirement Plan
Even if retirement is 30 or 40 years away, you should start saving for your future now. Retirement investment vehicles such as 401(k)s, IRAs and annuities all provide benefits that most young entrepreneurs miss out on.
Annuities are financial products that are typically used as a source of steady income during retirement. In return for a lump-sum investment or smaller payments over time, the insurance company will repay you in regular disbursements, beginning on a set date down the road.
If a major life happens before you retire, such as you want to purchase a new home, it is possible to sell annuity payments to gain a larger lump sum immediately, but fees will apply.
Contributing to an annuity or other investment vehicle now will help to provide for a more comfortable retirement.
Making a Budget and Sticking to It
Sticking to budget is one of the best ways to stay financially stable now and in the future. You need to keep track of your income and all of your expenses to accurately project savings for the future.
At the beginning of each month, subtract recurring expenses from your monthly income that remain the same from month to month and then subtract other bills from your overall budget amount. What is left is your projected monthly allowance for all other expenses that will not leave you in debt if unpaid.
From here, you need to calculate every expense into your budget and when you hit $0, no more spending.
There are a number of ways to keep on track with your budgeting. You can use Excel or a calculator or you can join the 21st century and use your handy dandy smartphone. Yes, there’s an app for that.
In fact, there is a plethora of apps tailored to your budgeting needs and preferences, including:
- Easy Envelope Budget Aid (EEBA). A free, virtual version of the older envelope budgeting system, which allows you to manually input your earnings and expenses and create one budget for the month, or multiple envelopes for different categories.
- Mint. An app created by mint.com that connects to your bank account and automatically tracks your bank account for you.
Setting up a budget may seem like a simple practice, but it won’t only help you stay on track now; it will help build vital personal finance skills needed for a successful future.
Knowing Which Debt to Pay Off First
If you find yourself in debt, there is a way out, but when deciding which debt to pay off first, it is important to know which will affect your credit score the most. Generally, revolving debt, such as credit card debt, has a bigger impact on your credit score than installment debt, such as student loans.
Keeping your credit score in check will allow you to make future purchases such as a car or a new home and is important in securing your future.
Although you should try to make minimum payments on your student loans on time, taking care of credit card debt, which typically has a higher interest rate, first can be better long term.
Millennials have grown up in a struggling economy, but that doesn’t mean our future has to be a struggle, too. If you stay on budget, invest what you can for retirement and keep your credit score in mind when paying off debt, you are setting yourself up for a successful future.
Kaitlyn Fusco is a content writer for Debt.org. She combines her interests in writing and overcoming debt to inform the public about issues related to credit, debt, annuities and personal finance.
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