“It’s a widely-held belief that Millennials are obsessed with money. And it’s also wildly true. Just don’t mistake it for a fixation with getting rich.” – Chelsea Clinton
Hey everyone, and welcome back to WF.
Today we are talking about the 11 financial mistakes millennials make. Now, full disclosure, I’ve made a couple of these myself and I hope I can pass my learning on to you.
But let’s get right into it.
Student Loans/Bad Degree
This is probably one of the most common ones on this list. Student loans are not always bad. When you are working towards a degree in something of substance for employers, you will pay off those loans over time. Degrees in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) tend to pay off rather quickly once that degree has been obtained. Sad to say it but a degree in Women’s Studies or Theatre Arts won’t look good on an application to an employer looking to pay his/her potential employee $100,000 a year.
When you add student loans into the mix of a bad degree, you should anticipate a long timeframe before you pay off your student loans. My main degree is in English but I knew that would not give me too much leverage in the job market, so I added Marketing to it. I am into investing as well, so I ensured that I have got a plethora of investing experience in the real world in order to be diversified in my learnings (not that I plan on ever working a full-time job anyways. But you know, just in case).
Relying On One Source Of Income
A lot of times, students get out of university and get lucky to find a full-time job to their liking. Most of these newly employed millennials believe that their jobs are stable. Sorry, but that is not the case. Businesses work in order to make a profit. You may know someone who got laid off of work not because of their performance, but because they were just too damn expensive to the company! When a company wants to ensure their bottom line, they will drop some of their workers in order to make their bottom line – you may be one of them. In order to be prepared for that, millennials must look towards having various sources of income. Obviously, some people cannot afford that. If that is the case, you may need to evaluate where all of your money is going and make adjustments. Try to have more sources of income but also try to keep your options open. Do not ever have your heart set on one career, because the economies change, demand changes, necessities change – learn to adapt. This then brings me to my next mistake…
This is a massive mistake because this can be the difference between you becoming a millionaire when you are older and not. Simply having a 4% return putting away 10-15% of your income into it every month can make you a millionaire. Simple as that. If you are more skilled and can learn faster, having a higher return with more of our income or the same amount can do crazy things to your income and net worth. I am not talking about 60+ years old either. I’m talking about 40-50 years old. People with little or no financial literacy put their money into a checking account or savings account which gives them an interest rate of 0.1% and they feel like they are doing something special. They’re not. They’ll have $20,000 in their checking account, meanwhile, you could invest half of that amount at 6% and be sitting pretty in a few years with compounding and reinvesting and eventually be rich. Which sounds better?
This is something that I have learned the importance of over the past few years. Most people live paycheck to paycheck and I understand that. But most people should be able to live 3-6 months if they were to lose their only source of income. Back to the second mistake of only having one income, if you have various, you probably don’t that much of an emergency fund. You should ALWAYS have at least a few thousand dollars on reserve in case your car breaks down or you need an impromptu trip across the world to see a dying family member – you should always be prepared. This is where people dig into debt because they never thought a rainy day would come. For people living in Canada, you know a rainy day can literally come in the middle of winter or even on the hottest day of the year (there is so much that you can learn from nature, but that’s another post).
Payday Loans/Car Loans
This is one that I despise. I never knew what these were until a couple years ago (especially payday loans). Thankfully I have never had to use either because my parents never did so I didn’t even have to find out what they were. This is something that a lot of Millenials who are in a working-class (mostly) or middle-class family use. Payday loans are loans lent to individuals at a high percentage of interest with the expectation that it will be paid back by the person’s next payday. This is the dumbest thing that I have ever heard of in my life. Getting a loan for money that you do not have at the moment, with a high interest put on it…with the expectation that it will all get paid off by the next paycheck. Some people use this money to go to the bar and have fun. I mean god! If you do not have the money to go to a bar and have fun, don’t go to the bar and have fun! Either you are living above your means or you just do not know how to use their money. Stay away from these at all costs. You will never get rich if you become accustomed to using these.
The same thing goes for auto loans. If you want $12,000 to get a car when you only have $5,000, get a $5,000 car! It’s better to get a car with your own money, even if it breaks down a few years from now, rather than to owe money with interest to businesses for years because you couldn’t make logical financial decisions.
Eating Out Almost Every Day
This was a killer for me for a while. We all love enjoying a beautiful meal that we did not have to make ourselves or just a simple lunch at a fast-food joint on our lunch break. These little and big costs can add up. I was spending thousands of dollars on food alone! In a single year! You can read about the transition of expenditures for this year here.
If you work 5 days out of the week for 52 weeks, that is 260 days. If you spend on average $10 on a lunch every day, that’s $2,600. And I am just lowballing that amount, it could easily be more. For me, it used to be Panda Express and Bourbon St. Grill. These two places took about $11 from me every shift. When calculated, I spent about $3,000 on fast food at these two places (not including the other places I eat out at and the expensive dinners too…that would bring it up easily to $10,000 that year). This works for anything in your life. Shopping too often, smoking too often, drinking too often, clubbing too often, they all do the same thing, leave you with empty pockets. Do otherwise and moderate these expenditures.
I am known to be that guy who literally hates credit cards. When I used to work at a local hardware store, I was obligated to try and sell credit cards to customers. I never could. Not because it was not possible but because it was out of my morals. Even at the luxury store that I currently am at, when I am cashing out my guest and they pull out a credit card, many times I will persuade them to come back with debit or cash. But when customers pay with cash (I am talking about the average price of $1,000 for one item), I openly congratulate them and tell them to continue that habit.
A few reasons why you should stay away from credit is that one, payments can build up and you can be swimming in debt for years just because of one badly timed purchase. Two, it kills your credit. If you want to borrow money from banks to invest in a home to live in or to invest in stocks, real estate, or a business loan, and you keep maxing out your credit cards, you won’t get the loans you were hoping for.
For my example, I used to use a lot of credit. At first, I’d pay it off a timely rate, but eventually, I bit off more than I could chew. This was mainly because where I worked began to give fewer hours so my normal amount that I could pay off easily suddenly became more than manageable. What I did was pay off my visa completely through the subsequent months then only use my visa for what I could pay off that immediate second through the TD app on my phone. This is a way that I recommend, as you still need to have some sort of credit on record for future opportunities.
This is an add-on to the last financial mistake. Most millennials have been taught to use visa and pay more than the minimum payments just to get and keep a better credit score. That’s true if you want to be poor or have no net worth in the long run. Do not do this. Forget whoever advised you to pay the minimum. That is like paying an additional tax for the rest of your life. The interest increases on your credit card and you eventually have to pay ridiculous amounts for a purchase that you should have waited to make. Anything in your life that you have the option to pay little by little for, do not do it. Either pay it in full or pay it in lump sums over a short period. The only investment that I think is okay to pay over time is a mortgage, and even that should have a lump sum paid first before the first set of payments over time.
This one is a killer, not just in North America, but all over the world. When you get in a relationship and you have the means, you tend to spend frivolously on your significant other. Hopefully, that relationship lasts, or you’ve just wasted thousands of dollars. This is why it is important to be with someone who shares the same long-term view as you because if you have someone who is all about the ‘now’, you will not have any money left for the ‘later’.
In my current relationship, we are working together to create a great future. We save together, invest together, and we plan ahead together. This is a wonderful thing! But to get where we are today, we went through about a year in the beginning of our relationship spending thousands of dollars on each other just because! This is not a bad thing, and we weren’t using visa much, but imagine what those thousands could have done if we invested them instead of impress one another? Don’t get me wrong, don’t be cheap, but be frugal at times and have your priorities in check. I would rather not go on vacation for a few years in order to live life like it is a 24/7 vacation a few years from now.
‘Renting’ has become synonymous with ‘millennials’. No one wants to own a home anymore and build their net worth. Everyone wants to rent condos for the rest of their life. This can be due to poor upbringing but also because of how society is training us to plan for now and just let the future be whatever it is. I actively do not believe in this.
Do not plan to rent forever. Obviously, as a young adult, you do not know where your next job will be, as you hopefully are willing to relocate for better opportunities. But once you are in a solid career and are stable, BUY A HOME. Banks love loaning money to people who own homes because they have collateral. If you do not own a home and have no money, what do you have to offer a bank? Nothing. Therefore, don’t expect to be financially stable if you have no assets, and owning your own home should be your first major investment. Trust me, you will appreciate your decision down the line.
This is the last mistake not because it is the most important, but because this is one that many of you can avoid as you may still be living at home. What tends to happen when you graduate school and are ready to move out is that your lifestyle that you had at home automatically becomes your lifestyle on your own. If you are like me, who lives at home and doesn’t pay for much aside from a phone bill, you are used to having excess money to do whatever you feel like.
Once you leave home, unless you have chosen your timing well with various passive incomes on the side, you will not be able to live that same lifestyle. You will have a mortgage to pay, your own various insurances, gas, clothes, food, maintenance for your home, etc. Your life will be different. Your parents worked hard so you could live lavishly compared to them at your age. But, you should set up yourself before you leave home in order to be able to continue that lifestyle. This ties into using credit cards, taking loans, and nearly every other financial mistake on this list. Be timely and don’t be eager to run from home as soon as you are legal. The worst thing is not leaving home unprepared but it is, in fact, leaving home then coming back and looking like a fool.
Take heed to these mistakes and ensure that every move you make leads you to be rich, not working for the rich.
Until next time,
Live Long and Prosperous.