As a millennial, I know how difficult it can be to stay on track with money management and self-improvement while juggling all the other things that come with being a recent college graduate or someone new to the workforce. What has helped me most is focusing on core principles such as “spend less than you earn” and “do to others as you would have them do to you”. For this reason, I would like to share four concrete, simple strategies that can help you improve your finances.
Pay Your Credit Card Bill In Full Each Month
If you read my blog, you know that I think credit card interest rates should not matter. We should all be in the habit of paying our credit card bills in full each month. This means not charging more to your credit card than you have cash to pay. It is a myth that carrying a balance on your credit card improves your credit score.
If you have a lot of credit card debt, start by paying more than the minimum payment each month. Double or triple it if you can. At the same time, stop putting new charges on your card until you have paid off the debt you currently have. Eventually, you will catch up and reach a zero balance. At this point, follow the method mentioned above: only charge to your credit what you can pay in cash and pay that amount in full each month.
Refinance and Consolidate Your Student Loans
I do not have any student loans. If I did, I would make that the top priority on my budget list. I would do everything I could to pay them off as quickly and cheaply as possible. For many people, refinancing and consolidating those student loans will help dramatically.
When you first took out student loans as a college freshman, you may not have gotten the best possible interest rate. Also, you probably took out loans from different lenders – maybe even a private bank. To make sure you are getting the best possible interest on your student loans today, you should shop around for lenders willing to refinance those loans with a lower interest rate. SoFi is the largest student loan refinancing company—they offer rates as low as 2.13%. And, you might want to consider using LendEDU to compare multiple quotes. If you have both federal and private loans, consolidating them can help you manage your money and streamline your payments.
Start a Side Hustle
One of the best ways to secure your financial future is to start a side hustle – a mini business in addition to your full-time job. My side hustle is blogging and freelance writing. Yours could be anything that you have a skill in and that there is a market for. To find the right side hustle for you, do a skills audit. Take time to dig deep and think about what your best skills are. Then, decide what you are most passionate about or interested in.
Lastly, find the intersection of skills and interests that creates a marketable product or service. This may be the hardest step, but it is the most important. The only way your side hustle will make you any money is if people are willing to pay for the product or service. Once you have found a market, start selling your product or service to local customers or online with a company like Upwork. Track your income and consider saving it for a rainy day.
Start Investing In Yourself
A lot of people think that your millennial years are a time to just have fun because life gets more serious as you get older. Unfortunately, those people are only making life harder for themselves in the long run. Investing in yourself in your millennial years will build a good foundation for your future. Investing in yourself can take many forms. This may mean investing in an advanced degree to pursue your dream career. It can mean going to networking events to expand your social and professional circles. Investing in yourself can mean investing your money now so that your future self can be financially independent.
The path you choose is not as important as just getting started. As long as you are doing something to improve your circumstances for the long-term, you are on the right track.
Your millennial years are meant to be a time of exploration. This means mistakes will be inevitable. Do not expect to have a perfect budget right away or never miss a savings opportunity. Some of you may not find your dream career right away (I am not sure if I have even found mine yet). Just know that in the end, everything works itself out. All you have to do is put in the effort, intend for the best, and watch your money grow.
If you are a millennial, what strategies are you using to manage your finances?
If you are past your millennial years, what would you have told your younger self about money?