It’s no secret that millennials are struggling. A tough job market for new college grads, an economy still recovering from the Great Recession and the weight of massive student loans to repay, has got many millennials on their knees financially. Many are getting financial assistance from their parents just to get by, but that can’t last forever.
So, what’s a young hipster to do if they want to be financially free one day? Glad you asked. Below are five money moves that every millennial should be doing now, so that they can join the ranks of the wealthy one day. But before I get to these, I want to offer a word of caution – this isn’t the same boring “5 Things That Millennials Should Do To Be Successful” article you see all over the web. No, there are some unconventional and even controversial (more about that in a minute) actions you can take as a millennial to fight back against mediocrity and claim your rightful place on the financial freedom podium.
Let’s get to it…
1. Stop listening to your parents, if they are not wealthy yet. I told you it was going to be controversial. Let me explain. By the time we get into our twenties, most of what we know about money comes from our parents, good or bad. If you’re parents aren’t wealthy yet, I would encourage you to respectfully examine what they are teaching you about money. That doesn’t mean than someone who isn’t wealthy yet cannot teach good money principles, it just means that they may have some bad money habits themselves that they need to change. You don’t want to carry their bad money habits forward so you should take a healthy look at what they’ve ingrained in you. Also, many millennials saw their parents lose big time in the stock and real estate markets, which scared them off of making their own investments, which is a terrible money philosophy. A good question to ask yourself about your money philosophies you have thus far is this – “Are my money philosophies universally true?” In other words, do they apply to everyone equally? If not, it’s mostly likely a money myth handed down in your family from generation to generation. For example, if your parents have taught you that investing in the stock market is too risky, ask yourself this – “If it’s too risky, wouldn’t it be too risky for everyone? If it’s too risky, how is that so many people become successful investing in the stock market?” The best way to grow your money is to get comfortable asking yourself uncomfortable questions about money. Challenge what you’ve been taught. If it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny don’t be afraid to form new opinions about money that differ completely from your parents.
2. Define the life you want. Too many people wait until their in their 40’s to decide what type of life they want. It’s usually too late then and they panic when they realize they’re not going to have enough money to retire early. My advice? Think very hard about what type of life you want to have going forward. Don’t fall into the trap of “I just want to get a good job” thinking. There’s millions of people stuck in the middle class today, because that statement was the total extent of their forward thinking when they were your age. The everyday grind of life – a job hate, a crazy boss, a mortgage and two car payments will suck they very life out of you if don’t have a plan to have a better life. Don’t worry if you don’t have everything figured out or if you can’t see how to connect dots C and D. The point at your age is to start planning, start envisioning and start defining what you want. Remember, if you do not define the life you want, you cannot possibly know what to improve in your life. Changing your life begins by knowing what life you want to change to. Imagine your future.
3. Bank your windfalls. As you move thru life, you’ll start experiencing financial windfalls. You’ll receive promotions, raises and maybe your aunt Edna will leave you a nice inheritance. Many people have a tendency to spend unexpected windfalls on fun purchases or worse, they just increase their expenses to match their new-found income. That’s a recipe for joining the ranks of the underclass my friends. Start getting in the habit of banking your windfall money. Spend a little yes, but put a portion of it into a retirement account and put another portion into an investment capital account. Want to know how to connect dots C and D mentioned above? When lady opportunity shines to you, be the smart guy/gal in the room and take advantage of it because you have investment capital to put to work. Your friends will call you lucky. Just reply and say, “No, I prepared for this. This is part of the life I’ve defined for myself. I don’t want to crawl thru life, so I was ready for an opportunity increase my wealth.”
4. Go back to school. I know what you’re thinking. “What the #%@!. I just got out of school!”. Yes, you did and you undoubtedly learned many good things. Equally as sure however, you probably didn’t learn much about growing your money. One of the biggest money mistakes people make is never picking up another book after they leave college and that sets of a chain reaction of events that ensures they never go far in life. My best advice to you is to create your own Success 101, 201, 301, 401 curriculum and get after becoming the most learned person you know about money and success. While your peers are downing another beer at the pub, down another book at the library. No, that won’t make you cool but when they’re still working at a crappy job and you’re retired, you’ll be plenty cool. How to start? Here’s a short list of books that I would recommend that you immerse yourself in:
The Intelligent Investor by Ben Graham
Security Analysis by Graham and Dodd
The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Normal Vincent Peale
Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill
Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
And for those over-achievers who want a master’s degree in success, listen to every audio program from Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy and Zig Zigler. If you catch yourself saying, “This material is old!” That’s right. But remember this – the material is not only old, it’s stood the test of time.
5. Stop trying to save the world. OK, I warned you this would be controversial. it’s been said that the millennial generation are the most civic-minded group than an previous generation before. Indeed millennials spend more time volunteering and giving back than their parents. Millennials are also more likely to do research on the social impact of a company before they’ll go to work there. That’s all fine and great, and giving back plays a very large role in my life now. However, my suggestion to millennials is to be a little more selfish now and plan to give back later in life. I’ve written about this very topic before here. Look, I realize that everyone wants to be seen as a special snowflake who’s going to be the next big thing in the world, but that type of thinking can led to a sense of entitlement and just kind of being detached from reality. While you’re young, follow the money and learn how to grow it. Once you’re wealthy, then start giving it back. If that sounds a little heartless, this is exactly what Warren Buffett has done. He was ruthlessly criticized for not giving more to charity as he was building his wealth. What his detractors didn’t realize, was that he was building an even greater sum to give to charity later in life. How’s that for being cool? Lastly, you can’t save the world if you are in need of saving. Save yourself first and then help.
Now, back to these steps being controversial. Yes, they are. But guess what? They also work. How do I know? Because they are the very things I did when I was of a millennials age, to become financially free.
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
Ready for more tips on how to achieve the free life? Check-out more articles from the blog archives below: