By: Lynette Barbieri, Money & Business Coach
How many times have you thought to yourself that you wish that you knew then what you know now? Personally, I know that I have thought that way many times. As college graduation is approaching, and millennials find their footing in their careers and financial lives, they can benefit from some pointers from their elders. Here are some of the financial tips that all millennials need to pay attention to:
1. Stop overpaying rent
Many millennials are using too much of their income on rent. Aim to pay 30% of your annual earnings or less in rent; a lot of millennials are paying almost 40%. If you are having trouble finding decent rent, find a friend who is having the same problem, and find a place to split the costs with them.
2. Be responsible with your credit
After college, many young people tend to get bombarded with credit card offers, but you are usually better off skipping them. It is easy to spend now with plastic, but so much harder to pay later. Build your credit score with one card by making small, recurring monthly payments to make sure that you do not overspend. Frankly, if you take on too much credit card debt, especially on top of student loan debt, it is very easy to fall behind, so be smart with your spending.
3. Set up an emergency fund
I typically recommend saving 3-9 months of your monthly expenses in an emergency fund. That will cover most unpleasant surprises, such as a big car repair or a trip to the emergency room. Also, set up automatic contributions into your bank account, this way you never see it and it and will not second guess it. Lastly, think about living on 85¢ of every dollar you earn.
4. Student loans should not hold you back from saving
Most federal lenders give you a six-month grace period after graduation before you are expected to start repaying your student loans.
Deferment allows you to avoid payments on federal student loans while in school, serving in the military, or while looking for that first job, yet Interest accrues on all of those loans. If you are in a repayment plan, investing in your 401(k) can actually lower your monthly payment. Again, make sure you set up automatic contributions to make saving easier.
5. Do NOT undervalue yourself
Most first-time job seekers do not negotiate salaries, and many people expect that if they do a good job, their boss will recognize it with a promotion.
It is important to research the salaries that are being offered by comparable positions. This will help you aim for that price, and it will help you bargain with your employer.
6. Check your credit
If you are just establishing credit, or if you frequently change your address, it is important to check your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. To order, visit freecreditreport.com
7. Start Using Coupons
Many millennial spend too much on coffee, cocktails, and restaurants without ever focussing on the cost. There are many sites available for you to perform a quick search before you go out, such as Groupon, Restaurant.com, TravelZoo.com and LivingSocial. If you take a few minutes to do a search for potential money-saving coupons before you go out, you can sometimes save as much as 50%.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to start forming good money habits early. It is always good to listen to people who have made some financial mistakes, as they can provide advice on good financial decisions that you can learn from. Why walk through the landmines when someone can give you a road-map to walk around them?