This is a guest post by Chelsy Ranard. Read more about her at the end of the post.
In 2015, the millennial generation is 18 years old at its youngest and 34 at its oldest. More than one-in-three American workers today are millennials and are now the largest portion of our workforce according to the Census Bureau.
For many of us, leaving home, starting college, or being a twenty-something is a time to enjoy being young and learning our independence. Even the older millennials can relate to making some mistakes during that transition.
As young adults trying to navigate through this new area of life, there are some financial blunders that are common for our generation that we should work to avoid.
1. Choosing College
Believe it or not, choosing a college education can be a financial pitfall for many millennials that aren’t realistic about their prospective career path. In 2015, 40 million people across the United States who have monumental student debt. Student loans have increased by 84% since the recession and is only type of consumer debt not decreasing. Many millennials are drowning in a mountain of student debt that they won’t be escaping any time soon.
Millennials starting college need to determine a career path and decide if a college education is right for them before agreeing to the nearly $30,000 in debt on average. If college is the right path, millennials should research the careers that make sense for their passion and pay attention to profitable private business sectors like accounting, business, legal, or real estate services that can aid in student loan repayment. In reality, there are many different paths for students seeking education that don’t involve a four year degree and a mountain of debt.
2. Relying on Credit Cards
Credit cards can be a great thing for your credit if handled properly. The issue is that millennials receive dozens of credit card options and aren’t as informed on them as they should be which leads to irresponsible credit card use and repayment. Spending on a credit card has the issue of not feeling like you’re spending real money and you don’t even have to repay it right away.
The reality is that credit cards are one of the highest interest loans out there. The good thing is that many millennials are shying away from credit cards altogether which is lowering issues associated with irresponsible credit card debt. Remember that not all debt is bad debt, but it’s best to use credit cards sparingly and do your research before using one.
3. Paying Late
Credit is an extremely important financial aspect of adulthood and one sure-fire way to have poor credit is to have late payments. Without good credit you’ll have issues getting loans to buy a house or a car later in life. Building good credit doesn’t happen overnight but takes no time at all to destroy.
Taking out student loans without the ability to repay, drowning in credit card debt, or letting bills go to collections are all issues that are hard to come back from on the credit front. Always be sure to pay your bills before anything else and make it a top priority. Many institutions offer repayment options, will work with temporary financial hardship, or allow double payment if you miss a month. Before deciding to pay late, be sure to contact the business to explore your repayment options.
4. Putting off Retirement
Retirement seems like a faraway dream for many millennials but truthfully it’s only a dream if you start saving for it now, and it’s never too early. If your employer offers a 401(k) matching program they will match how much you contribute to your retirement or a percentage of it. If you turn this down you are saying no to free money which is something you should never do.
Also, it’s best to start a retirement account when you are in a lower tax bracket which will probably be the lowest you’ll be in your whole life. Also, the money you put into your retirement now will be worth more than money you contribute later on. The longer you wait the less time your money has to grow. Especially with the issues with social security for the millennial generation, it’s important to start saving now because social security might not be available to us once we reach retirement age.
Every generation has financial issues that plague them at a young age and our millennial generation is no different. Learning and understanding financial stability is a learned skill that tends to come with age. Personal finance might not seem like such an important facet of life for those of us that are new to the independent life and have little finances anyway but it’s important to keep an eye on the big picture and plan for the future, no matter how far away that might seem to be.
About the Author:
Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She enjoys Netflix nights with her cat, travelling with her fiancé, and reading with a glass of wine. Follow her on Twitter!