Published by Ryan Cooley
Millennials are in a tough spot these days. They likely spent their college or early working years dealing with the repercussions of the 2008 recession in the form of unemployment or lower starting wages. They carry a heavy student loan debt load but also understand the importance of saving for the future. They face high housing costs and increased costs of living, all the while wages aren’t growing as quickly as their parents’ did. (1)
The good news is that they have time on their side and have a visceral understanding of the importance of saving for the future. If you are a Millennial and want to overcome your financial obstacles so you can beef up your retirement fund, keep reading.
1. Earn More
You have something that older generations don’t—earning potential. You have many years ahead of you to earn promotions, change careers, or get creative with your income.
Case in point, Millennials are the “side hustle generation.” Your collective entrepreneurial spirit has combined with a drive to overcome the financial challenges you face to create a whole new definition of work. Whether it’s driving for Lyft on the weekends, starting a podcast, freelancing with your tech or creative skills, or renting your spare room through Airbnb, you have no lack of opportunities to increase your income. Then, once you have some extra money in your pocket, channel it into your long-term savings or make a dent in your debt.
2. Save More
Compound interest is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. Compound interest, or earning interest on interest, works best with more time, which is why, no matter how hard it may seem, saving early is what will get you to retirement with enough money to live comfortably.
Consider this: If a 21-year-old opens a Roth IRA with $1,250 and contributes $100 a month, when they turn 65, they could have $366,000 (assuming a 7% annual return). If that same person waits just 5 years to open an account and contributes the same amount, they would have $100,000 less when they reach 65.
Here’s how to use compound interest to your advantage. If your company offers a 401(k), increase your contributions. At the very least, max out your employer’s 401(k) match. If your employer matches your 401(k) contributions, you’re essentially receiving free money for no additional work. Employer matches are anticipated to make up 50% of retirement savings for Millennials. (2)
For any money you receive outside of your traditional job, think about putting it into a Roth IRA. You won’t get a tax break now, but you will benefit from tax-free withdrawals in retirement when taxes are likely to be higher.
3. Kill That Debt
Here’s the hard truth: Millennials carry more debt than any other generation in history—to the tune of $1 trillion. (3) And do you know what type of debt the majority of that amount represents? Student loans. Sure, Millennials are responsible for the number of people ages 25 to 29 with a four-year degree growing by 25%, but that comes with a price. (4)
Millennials have less mortgage and credit card debt than Gen X, but the commitment and value they place on higher education bites them once they toss their cap in the air and frame their diploma. How much does it hurt them? Millennials with student loans spent an average of 9% of their pre-tax income paying off this debt…for 10 years! (5)
Make a plan to simultaneously eliminate your student loan debt while still saving for retirement. Make extra payments where you can and focus on paying off your higher-interest debt first. Make sacrifices now in the form of a tighter budget so you can be free of that burden quicker.
4. Talk To An Expert
Can you Google all your financial questions? Yes. Are you adept at using the Internet and all that information at your fingertips to make decisions? Yes. Is there an app for just about everything? Sure.
But don’t forget about the power of talking to someone who spends their days helping people just like you get on track for retirement and maximize your money, however much that is. No matter how independent and self-directed Millennials are, 84% know they would benefit from some professional advice. (6)
At Jacob William Advisory, we know your struggles and want to help you through them. We won’t give you glib answers or try to sell you something you don’t need. Taking a few small steps now can make a big difference down the road when it comes to your finances. Let us help you with those small steps. Contact our office by calling 410-821-6724 or emailing [email protected]. You can also take our Risk Tolerance Questionnaire at https://client.jacobwilliam.com/survey/.
Ryan Cooley is an associate Wealth Advisor at Jacob William Advisory, a wealth management firm whose sole mission is to serve their clients’ needs beyond their expectations. Ryan has a military background as a U.S. Army Infantryman, and he applies the values and character traits he learned through his experience to his role as a financial advisor. To this day, Ryan is passionate about veterans’ issues and holds a seat on the Advisory Board for Operation Second Chance and is a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans organization. Ryan obtained his bachelor’s degree in economics and his MBA from the University of Maryland. Outside of the office, Ryan enjoys spending time with his wife, Germaine, and their two wonderful children. He currently resides in Urbana, Maryland, and loves to fish, hunt, cook, watch Maryland Terrapin sports, and cheer his son and daughter on in all of their activities. To learn more about Ryan, connect with him on LinkedIn.