The following blog is by Sophia Bera originally published in her website Gen Y Planning.
Personal finance scares a lot of people. It seems too serious, too complicated, or too inaccessible to not only understand but also master. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Money can be about joy, doing what you love, and living the life of your dreams. I’m on a mission to help members of Gen Y change the way they view and think of their finances. It’s time to see that you can use your money to build security and confidence.
Let me introduce you to some ideas on how you can build a positive relationship with your money, and use your finances as a tool to reach your dreams and achieve your goals:
Building a Financial Safety Net with Savings
Laying the groundwork for Gen Y’s financial success starts with establishing an emergency fund for unexpected expenses that might otherwise bust your budget or push you into debt. Start by saving $500, then work up to $1,000 and keep saving until you have 3-6 months of your income set aside for emergencies. Have at least one month of net pay saved for emergencies before you aggressively start paying down your debt. (That means if your net pay is $3,000 per month, make sure your savings account reflects that before you crush your debt).
Set up a direct deposit from your paycheck so that a set amount goes from your paycheck to your savings account and never hits your checking. Start with $100 a paycheck and keep increasing this amount as your salary rises. Here’s the key: make it automatic. You’ll be surprised how quickly your net worth rising by setting up automatic contributions to your savings each month.
Creating Financial Freedom by Crushing Debt
When you have at least one month of emergency savings, then allocate as much as you can towards your credit card debt each month. Start by paying off the card with the highest interest rate first, while you pay the minimum payments on all your other debt.
The quickest way to get out of debt is to increase your income! Pick up a second job, freelance, babysit, mow lawns, build websites, sell things…. Do whatever you need to do to earn extra money and allocate all of this extra income towards paying off your debt.
Establishing a Nest Egg to Keep Future You Financially Secure
Savings and debt repayment help you get on the right track in the present with your finances. But your future matters, too, and you need to start thinking about it today. Yes, it’s tough to envision our retirement, but doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start saving for it. Save for the future now, so that you have options later. For millennials, it’s not about quitting our jobs in our 60s, it’s about creating financial independence –this can come at any age!
I always recommend that people sign up for their work retirement plan if they are eligible for a company match. (Talk to your HR department if you are unsure if your employer offers a match.) If so, make sure you contribute at least enough to receive your full company match. After that, I generally recommend that people start a Roth IRA at a discount brokerage firm.
Think what you can save now won’t matter? Consider this: by contributing $100 a week towards a retirement account and earning a 7% rate of return, you’ll have over a million dollars after 40 years of saving! And if you average an 8% rate of return, you could have over $1,500,000!
How to Do More with Your Money by Feeling Financially Empowered
It’s pretty cool stuff – but having a good relationship with your money is also so much more than figuring out how to build savings or repay debt (although these are obviously important elements of good planning). One of the keys to success with your money is understanding how to use your financial resources to match your values.
Go through your monthly spending and look at each item. Then ask yourself, “does this purchase match my values?” If not, work on curbing your spending in that particular area so that you have more money to spend on fulfilling your goals and dreams.
Spending money isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s all about how you’re spending. Many studies have shown that people are happier when they spend their money on experiences rather than material items. Saving up for concert tickets, going to a play, or planning your next vacation can be some of the best ways to spend your money and offer the most long-term satisfaction.
For example, I love to travel! For years, I drove an older car (a 1997 Toyota Corolla) without a car payment in order to free up more money for what I really value. By setting aside money in a savings account each month for travel, I know that I’m delaying immediate gratification for future enjoyment, so it doesn’t seem as difficult. It’s a way of funding my dreams – and you can do the same.
Feeling empowered about your personal finances means learning how to make the most of your money to live the life you truly want to live. Financial planning is critical to success because it allows you to see that money isn’t too scary or too complicated.
You – yes, you! — can achieve financial success. You can and should feel empowered to make great decisions and do more with your money. It’s in your power to reach financial stability, security, and eventually, independence.
About the author: Sophia Bera, CFP® is the Founder of Gen Y Planning and is a financial planner for Millennials. She’s passionate about helping people in their 20s and 30s across the with their money. She is a contributor for AOL’s Daily Finance website and has been quoted on various websites and publications including Forbes, Business Insider, Yahoo, Money Magazine, InvestmentNews, Financial Advisor magazine, and The Huffington Post. She was named one of the “Top Financial Advisors for Millennials” by the website: www.MoneyUnder30.com. Sophia is a sought after speaker and presenter and is an active member of the Financial Planning Association. In her free time, she enjoys performing as an actor/singer and traveling the world with her husband, Jake. Follow her on Twitter @sophiabera or sign up for the Gen Y Planning Newsletter to stay up to date on financial articles geared towards Millennials.