“Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.”
That is what a famous magazine said in its cover. Each generation is attached to its stereotype. Their decision-making skills often define millennials. Luckily, the New Year gives everyone the privilege of starting on a clean slate.
If you are a millennial who wants to prove that quote wrong, being financially-empowered is a start. Here are suggestions to guide you through a year of “adulting.”
There's a reason why researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss called Millennials “the next great generation.”
1. Know where you stand
– New York Times bestselling author Suze Orman said “Truth creates money. Lies Destroy it.” It's time for self-check. Before planning the year, honestly assess how much money you are making and how much money you are burning.
If you are brave enough, you may also want to list down the bad decisions you have been making when it comes to your finances. A severe financial state probably started with just one bad decision that has spiraled on. These things will give you a clearer picture of your past to create a brighter plan for the days ahead.
2. Pick a budgeting rule
Harvard bankruptcy expert and the United States Senator Elizabeth Warren popularized the 50/30/20 rule in budgeting your money. This simple approach to budgeting advises you to use 50% of their income in paying for needs such as utilities. The 30% should be appropriated for your wants while the remaining 20% should instantly be saved for your financial goals.
This rule has been recommended by many. Although, you are free to research more on other suggestions.
3. Emerge from an emergency
Now that you know how much you should be spending, the next step is setting aside an emergency fund. Financial experts say this is about three to nine months’ worth of expenses. Keep this money for the surprises life throws at you such as a medical emergency or job loss.
Having an emergency fund will make you feel secure. When life gives you lemons, you could easily twist and turn it into lemonade.
4. Go digital
Most of today's waking hours are probably spent looking at smartphone screens. You might as well use this to keep track of your budget and make this new routine more fun. Download a budgeting app that will help you monitor your income and expenses. Some are free while others require paid subscription.
These apps often show you a percentage breakdown of your expenses. For example, it gives you a glimpse of how much you have spent on food, gas, technology, or travel. Others come with unique features such as connecting to your bank account or notifying you when you already reached a budget limit. This makes using a penless mighty when keeping a record of your financial track.
5. Wipeout your debts
The dream is to achieve zero liabilities overnight. But let's face reality. If you are paying off loans from different financial institutions, this means you’re working your butt off only to pay for various interest rates. Wake up from this nightmare and take out a personal loan to pay for all the debts you are facing. This will at least give you the peace of mind that you are just managing and paying for one debt.
6. Swipe your expenses
There's more money for you when you go cashless. Imagine going to the grocery store and paying for the items in cash. The cashier then gives you your change. Thinking that it's just a small amount and you still have money on the bank, you frolic to the mall's food aisle or tiangge section to buy something that's not even on your list. Do this for the next weekends, and you end the month wondering where your money went.
Paying for your grocery or shopping needs using your debit or credit card makes you a click away from monitoring how much you've spent and how much money you still have down to the very last cent. Also, the bank rewards you points for being a trusting client. Redeem the points at the end of the year for cash rebates or shopping perks. If you're still not convinced, proceed to the next suggestion.
7. Make room for change
We don't mean this in a profound way. This challenge has made rounds in social media wherein people disciplined themselves in keeping their change such as 50-peso or 20-peso bills in an envelope or coin bank once they go home. They ended up saving Php30,000 to Php50,000 after a year of treating these bills invisible. Because it's a relatively small bill, you won't even feel you need them for the next day.
8. Clean out your closet
The idea is not as dark as your 2002 Eminem last song syndrome (LSS). If a year has passed and you still have not worn that shirt, there is a high chance that it's already out of date. So, instead of letting the termites feed on your clothes, why not sell them on Facebook or Carousel? Your clothes will have a new company and get paid for making the right decision.
This year is all about letting go and letting new ones come in. If you are planning to buy new clothes, choose items that fall on a staple category which you can use and abuse for all occasions without everyone noticing your outfit repetition.
This also applies to your phone and mail storage. It's time to hit the “unsubscribe” button if you are still clinging to an application, a website or a magazine you already have no use for. Also, subscribe to channels and webinars that would accompany you in your journey towards financial freedom.
9. Be like a Tita
Your Titas of Manila or of wherever you come from maybe, but they are acceptably frugal. And they are not even as old as your Tita. These are usually the young professionals who submit to the idea of staying at home, cooking their dinner, brewing their coffee or tea to avoid tiring and expensive gimmick nights. Curling up to your favorite Netflix series or movie keeps you away from both a beer hangover and a shocking morning-after bill.
Living from paycheck to paycheck is frustrating. Now that you have committed to being financially responsible start thinking of other means to increase your cash flow. Being young entitles you with more chances in life. If your regular job is enough, venture on a business that will make your talent or skill reach its full potential.
If you have enough savings, read up on investing in the stock market to make your money work for you.
Whether it's for your emergency fund, debt payment or business capital, getting a personal loan will help you make a great start. Just make sure to choose one that suits your needs. You may also consider applying for the best credit card to help you manage your finances.