9 Things Every 20-Something Should Know About Money

If you’re a “younger” millennial and find yourself struggling with your finances in your 20s, pay attention.

There’s no better time to learn about money than when you’re young and broke. The 10 years between 20 and 30 go by fast, and will be full of many important life changes that can shape your overall financial future. Whether it’s financial planning, saving, or investing, the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be.

If you can educate yourself on how to manage the little money you have now, you’ll be better prepared to manage your finances effectively when you earn more and life inevitably gets more complicated.

Lucky for you, today’s technology provides you with a wealth of (free) financial information at your fingertips, including this handy list of expert-approved money lessons to learn on your journey to dirty 30.

9 Things You Should Learn about Money in your 20s

#1: The magic of spending less than you earn

The first financial lesson you should learn is simple enough: spend less than you earn. Most people mess this one up.

At least, Pew Research shows 68% of Americans say they use credit cards and loans to make purchases that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford with their income and savings. This leads to more stress in your life, a dependency on debt, and an endless cycle of working to pay off or evade lenders.

Learn to follow a budget well and you’ll easily learn to live within your means. You may even take it a step further in your 20s — save more by living below your means, not just within your paycheck.

“Gain peace of mind that you’re being responsible by setting up guidelines for your spending and savings early in your 20s,” says Dan Andrews, certified financial planner and founder of Well-Rounded Success. The website provides financial guidance geared toward a millennial audience.

If you get those guidelines set early in your life, you’ll likely have an easier time addressing more complicated money topics like homeownership and having kids. If not, a large unexpected bill or the birth of a child could destroy your finances.

#2: Eventually something will go wrong

In the savings hierarchy, your emergency fund should be your first priority.You are bound to run into an emergency eventually.

“I know when you’re a 20-something, you feel invincible, but the fact is, emergencies are still going to arise, it’s not a matter of if, but when,” says Gen Y financial expert and author of The Broke and Beautiful Life Stefanie O’Connell.

The rule of thumb says to set aside 6 to 12 months’ worth of fixed expenses in case of an emergency. You can stash this money in a checking account, savings account, or any of these other options.

If you don’t plan for a financial emergency, you’ll find yourself in a tight spot when an emergency undoubtedly happens. If, for example, you lose your income, a liquid savings buffer might save you from turning to your parents for money or taking on high-interest debt to survive. That’s not an improbable crisis to imagine, as almost half of American households experience volatile income.

“By setting aside money, you can live off this savings while you look for new work, or better yet, have the flexibility to pursue the work you want,” says Andrews.

After the dust settles, you can high-five yourself for handling your crisis on your own.

#3: “YOLO” is a pretty terrible financial strategy

One of the hardest parts of your 20s is learning to think past “today” when making money decisions — especially when everyone seems to want to live in the moment.

Really ask yourself what goals you have for the future: Starting your own business? A family? Now is the time to stop thinking and start planning for how you’ll afford those life milestones when the time arrives.

Make it a habit to plan and save early for these stages before you reach them. When you’re planning, think about what’s most important to you and nearest in your life’s timeline. Don’t forget to consider the time it would take to save for larger expenses.

O’Connell gives the following example: If you decide to start saving for a $50,000 home down payment just two years before you plan to buy a home, you’ll have to save $25,000 a year. That’s tough. But if you think about that milestone money goal from 10 years out, you only have to save $5,000 a year, which is much more manageable.

Not every account has to be for a huge savings goal like a mortgage payment. You can practice the habit of planning ahead with any large purchase you plan to make.

“Create fun savings accounts, like a travel fund or to save up for that Dr. Seuss painting that you really want. These savings accounts motivate you to stash away more money for the financial milestones in your future,” says Andrews.

#4: The key to getting a killer credit score

Don’t get bogged down trying to understand everything about your credit score and why it’s so important right now. Just remember a few key facts so that you don’t mess up your score early and spend the next decade trying to undo the damage.

  • Use your credit card, but pay it off in full each month.
  • Don’t max it out. In fact, never use more than 30% of your total available limit.
  • The best strategy: Put one small bill or recurring purchase (like coffee) on your credit card, and pay it off each month. Use cash for everything else.

If you focus on those things, you should easily avoid derogatory marks on your credit report and quickly build a healthy credit score. Learn more tips to build your credit score here.

#5: One day you will get old and want to retire

Remember how we said it’s hard to think far into the future in your 20s? Well, this is going to be challenging. But it’s crucial to start saving for retirement as early as possible. Your biggest advantage to saving for retirement is your age. The younger you are, the more time you have to take advantage of compound interest on your retirement savings and other investment accounts.

So figure out what retirement savings options your employer offers (typically a 401(k)) and open an account. If your employer offers a match, then that is amazing and don’t miss out — it’s free money.

Contact your employer’s human resources department for help working through your options. That is what they are there for. A great, hands-off option for young savers is a Target Date Fund. Then set up an automatic payroll deposit at least high enough to capture any match your job offers.

Don’t worry about the swings of the stock market. Don’t worry about picking the perfect portfolio. Just put money in your retirement fund as early as possible and get to the complicated stuff later. The point is that you start saving for retirement — not that you become the next Warren Buffett right away.

“Too many young people don’t take advantage of all the benefits they can get at their workplaces. Simply ask your HR department if there’s a match on 401(k) contributions,” says Andrews.

Once you get a good grasp on retirement savings, you can upgrade to more sophisticated investing strategies.

#6: How to be your own “tax guy”

Do your own taxes at least once. The experience will give you a better idea of how the tax system works and can save you an average $273 you’d otherwise spend on tax preparation fees. Many free and low-cost options exist to e-file your taxes, including free filing options found on the IRS website.

“When you do your own taxes it also helps to demystify the process. If you decide to pay for help in the future, you’ll be able to vet your future accountant and hold your own in conversations,” says O’Connell.

She advises young people to take the opportunity to learn about how the tax system works and any tax strategies you can use to save money in the future, like making Roth IRA contributions, tuition payments, or charitable donations.

Another reason to learn now: Your taxes may never be simpler to understand. There may be special circumstances that require you to hire a tax professional when you’re older, like getting married, investing in the stock market, or owning your own business. If you feel like you need professional help, look for a tax preparer since their rates are typically cheaper than hiring a Certified Public Accountant.

#7: When to ignore social media


Don’t get caught up in spending your money to catch up with whatever your other friends are doing. You don’t know what anyone’s financial picture looks like behind all those Instagrammed vacations or a wedding album fit for a princess.

“Your day will come when you make your friends jealous, but that’s not the point. The point is to focus on your financial life to give you the foundation to live your great life,” says Andrews.

He advises 20-somethings to gain resilience while young, because you’ll likely compare your lifestyle to others at every age.

#8: Your debt won’t go away if you ignore it

If you do decide to ignore your debts, you could suffer consequences even worse than a dinged credit score.

Debt collectors can sue you for payment. If you ignore a debt lawsuit, the resulting judgment could result in garnished wages or lost assets.

“You’ve got to become proactive about your debt. It has to go from being something you procrastinate to something you prioritize. And a priority is something you build your life around,” says O’Connell.

O’Connell suggests you change your mindset to think of debt as an emergency that needs to be addressed immediately.

“In moments of crisis we don’t make excuses, we get ruthless because we have to. Excuses like, ‘but it’s a special occasion’ or ‘I can’t give up my vacation’ don’t even cross our minds,” says O’Connell. She adds getting ruthless might mean making some sacrifices and hustling to earn more income, but it’ll be worth it when you’re debt-free.

Struggling to make your student loan payments? You’ve still got options.

#9: How and when to negotiate your salary

Remember, the salary you earn at your first real-world job “will serve as the anchor from which you negotiate future raises, making your starting salary, arguably, the most important of your career,” says O’Connell.

That in mind, it’s worth negotiating a bit to get the best deal you can when you’re presented with your first employment offer. Hiring managers and recruiters expect candidates to negotiate; to them, it demonstrates initiative. The experience will also give you an opportunity to educate yourself about negotiation skills and get valuable, real-world practice.

Again, the internet is your friend here. You can learn salary negotiation tactics from numerous online resources, then practice with friends or mentors so you’re ready when a real offer is on the table. One word of warning: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Remember, you can ask for much more than more money (think: commuter benefits, education credit, etc.).

If you’re asking for a raise with a current employer, consider the average pay raise for salaried employees in 2017 is 3%, according to the Economic Research Institute, a think tank that provides salary survey data to Fortune 500 companies. So asking for a salary hike from $50,000 to $60,000 is pushing it at a 20% pay raise without much experience to justify your ask.

To sum it all up…

Just do your best. Focus on learning these concepts, but don’t beat yourself up. If you stray from your path to financial freedom every now and then, it’s all right. You can’t expect to be a perfect money manager — even accountants have accountants — but if you correct yourself when you make mistakes early on, you’ll be glad you made the effort later on in life.

The post 9 Things Every 20-Something Should Know About Money appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

How to Make Moving Back Home Work for You

Moving back home doesn't have to be the end of the world. Here are tips for surviving and getting out.

I’ve moved back home with my parents twice: Once after college to work at a nearby internship and again after breaking up with the person I was living with.

My parents were, at least outwardly, cool about it both times. They never charged rent, which probably made me feel more guilty about mooching off them and spurred me to move out faster.

More than half of post-college millennials moved back in with their parents after college, according to a recent survey by TD Ameritrade. Not all of them have parents as cool as mine, and the mix of emotions involved with shacking up in your childhood bedroom can lead to tension. So if that’s where you find yourself, here are a few tips for making it work.

How to Prepare

Before you plan to move home, you should have a plan to leave, said Susan Newman, a psychologist and author of “Under One Roof Again: All Grown Up and (Re)learning to Live Together Happily.” Know how you will eventually move out and discuss a possible move-out date with your parents.

“It helps you focus a little more on your job hunt,” she said.

If you don’t have a job yet, don’t stress. Here are 50 things you can do to score your first job.

If the date passes, you can always reassess.

You should also talk about your schedule. When you were in high school, your parents might have expected you for dinner every night. Now that you’re an adult, if that’s not the case, you should have a conversation to reset those expectations so Mom doesn’t get offended when she makes your favorite dish and you’re at the bar.

How to Have a Social Life

While you may want to have friends or dates over whenever you want, you still need to respect your parents’ feelings, Newman said. After all, it’s still their house.

Kate Moore, a 26-year-old content creator with Precision Marketing Group, has lived at home for about two months. She said it’s best to establish boundaries on day one.

“You’re used to gallivanting around town at all hours of the night and returning when you felt like it,” Moore said. “Now that you’re back under your parents’ roof, you need to maintain a delicate balance between respecting their space and maintaining your freedom.”

If you expect to be able to come and go as you please, make that clear, but also promise to be considerate.

How to Avoid Clashes

If you had tension with your parents before you moved out, don’t expect that to go away this time around. Make sure to address it head-on once you move back in, Newman said.

For example, if talking about politics always leads to an argument at the dinner table, Newman suggests making clear that is an off-limits topic for both of you. If your parents have disagreed with you on certain issues your whole life, like your style, friends or politics, come to an agreement that you won’t let those issues come to a boil.

Some parents simply won’t listen. It can be hard for the people who taught you how use the toilet to treat you like a fellow adult.

“One thing that might help a lot of the time is to say to your parents, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not the little kid I was before and I really don’t like being treated like a teen who just got my driver’s license,'” Newman said.

However, that also means acting like an adult. Clean up after yourself and don’t expect your parents to do everything for you.

How to Avoid Feeling Like a Mooch

Moore said her parents charge her only as much rent as their utilities increased from her living with them. She said other people moving home should work out how they could contribute to the costs in bills and food they’re accumulating for their parents. Little gestures help, too.

“Sometimes I delight my parents by bringing home a case of paper towels or a gallon of 2% milk,” Moore said. “Small contributions to the greater household will go a long way.”

Don’t act like a guest, Newman said. If you don’t have a job, find other ways to help, like making dinner or mowing the lawn. Yard work for neighbors might also be a good way to earn some extra money.

How to Benefit

You’re not just getting free meals and discounted rent, Newman said, but a chance to spend time with your parents while you’re adult instead of a child they’re raising. Young people should take advantage of the opportunity to get to know their parents, in addition to paying off their student loans or building up their savings. (See how to lower your student loan payments here.)

“As a young adult, and as a parent who’s not racing off to the soccer field for the third game of the weekend, you have more time to talk,” Newman said.

How to Get Out

Whatever your reason for moving back home, whether it’s to chip away at student loan debt or to find a job, pay off credit card debt or simply to save money, it’s important to know what your monetary target is and make a plan for getting there.

Even if you don’t reach your goal by the the time you agree to move out, whether it’s six months or a year, your parents won’t necessarily kick you out if you’ve shown progress, Newman said.

Moore said a mix of rent prices in the area, student loan debt and credit card debt led her back home. Since moving, she’s paid off one of her credit cards. (Paying off a credit card means you’ll lower your credit utilization, and ultimately improve your credit scores. Having good credit scores can help you land better terms and conditions on things like an auto loan or mortgage. Want to see how your credit card debt is affecting you? Check out a free snapshot of your credit report on Credit.com.)

Young adults moving back home shouldn’t feel like they’ve failed, neither should parents whose kids haven’t quite left the nest, Newman said.

“You don’t have to feel guilty,” she said. A lot of young adults lean on their parents to some degree, even if they don’t move back home.

“My son still brings home his laundry,” she said.

Image: monkeybusinessimages

The post How to Make Moving Back Home Work for You appeared first on Credit.com.

How Millennial Parents Can Improve Their Life Insurance

Life insurance startup Haven Life recently conducted a survey to see what millennial parents value most in terms of finances. Not on their agenda: life insurance.

With about 9,000 millennials becoming parents every day, it’s fair to ask, How are they doing so far? Life insurance startup Haven Life recently conducted a survey of parents with children ages 0 to 5 to better understand what this new generation prioritizes when it comes to raising their kids. (Full Disclosure: I’m the marketing and communications director for Haven Life.)

The findings paint a fascinating picture of parents who are invested in raising smart, compassionate children, but who are financially unprepared for their family’s future. We’ll look at three areas with room for improvement.

1. Saving for College

According to the study, only 13% of millennial parents identified college savings as one of their top child-related financial priorities. Maybe it’s because college seems so far off for their young children. Still, tax-saving programs can (and should) be taken advantage of now. Even an early, small contribution has the ability to compound and grow over time.

“By making college savings such a low priority, parents are missing out on the benefits of compounding investment returns from tax-advantaged programs like 529 Plans or even minimally aggressive investment accounts,” said Bobbi Rebell, author of How to Be a Financial Grownup. “That is more money potentially left on the table that isn’t being tapped.”

With the average total cost of a four-year public university degree expected to balloon to more than $205,000 by the year 2030, parents need as much time as possible to save if they plan to cover this expense.

2. Saving for Emergencies

Unforeseen expenses like car maintenance, home repairs or medical emergencies can be costly. If you’re not financially prepared, the effects can result in high-interest debt. (You can see how your debt is affecting your credit by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

About 53% of millennial parents have $5,000 or less in savings, and 34% have $1,000 or less. According to AAA, the average car repair bill is between $500 and $600, so a high-end repair could deplete a savings account almost instantly.

One of the best ways to avoid this is by having a nest egg that serves as a backup plan for the unexpected. Most experts recommend building an emergency fund that can cover at least six months worth of expenses, and possibly more if you have several children. Budgeting services like Mint and You Need a Budget can help identify opportunities to free up more cash for emergency savings.

3. Life Insurance

If the risk of a sudden and significant emergency isn’t scary enough, consider this: Few emergencies are costlier or more unpredictable than death. A recent Parting.com article indicated that a funeral and related burial services for the average family can cost between $8,000 and $10,000. And that’s on top of the mortgage, child care, debt repayments and other expenses survivors might have to pay.

Haven Life’s study found that just 15% of millennial parents consider life insurance a financial priority. Of those who have life insurance, 70% have less than $250,000 in life insurance, and 20% have none at all. With an average household income of about $81,000, the majority of millennial parents surveyed were underinsured.

Life insurance needs vary from family to family, but typically experts recommend coverage that’s at least five to 10 times your annual salary. An online life insurance calculator can help you determine what the right amount of coverage looks like for your family.

Stay-at-home parents should consider obtaining life insurance as well. While they don’t technically take home a salary, it’s estimated that the work they do accomplish can equate to an annual salary of $113,000.

If providing a comfortable upbringing is a primary concern, a life insurance policy is virtually a necessity to help protect loved ones. The proceeds of a life insurance policy can help your spouse or the guardian of your children cover day-to-day bills, future schooling expenses, child care, debts you leave behind and more. (You can learn how much debt is too much by going here.)

Millennial Parents Have Good Intentions but Need Financial Discipline

Haven Life’s survey shows millennial parents have good intentions when it comes to raising their children. They dedicate the majority of their time and resources to raising kind, well-rounded little ones.

College savings, emergency savings and life insurance coverage are three important components of a financial plan that helps provide stability in children’s lives. Without improvement in those areas, parents risk falling short on what most consider to be the ultimate goal: to provide their children with more — more education, more money, more love and more time.

Image: Lacheev

The post How Millennial Parents Can Improve Their Life Insurance appeared first on Credit.com.

30 Cities Where Millennials Are Still Living With Their Parents

Across the country, more people ages 18 to 34 are living at home with their parents. Here are the cities where it's happening the most.

Image: monkeybusinessimages

The post 30 Cities Where Millennials Are Still Living With Their Parents appeared first on Credit.com.

50 Things Millennials Can Do Now So They Can Retire at 65

Want to retire at 65 but don't know how? We're here to help.

It seems like you’ll be punching a clock forever, right? Well, one day, you’ll likely stop spending 9 to 5 at a desk and will enjoy your golden years in retirement. But that’s assuming everything plays out nicely and you have enough money set aside to do so. Stressful, right?

Well, according to a 2016 Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations survey by Franklin Templeton Investments, 70% of millennials are stressed and anxious about saving for retirement. So if you’re one of the millennials who gets anxiety every time mom or dad brings up the importance of your retirement funds, take a deep breath.

We’ve got 50 easy-to-digest ways that can get you on the right track today so you’re ready to celebrate in style once your 65th birthday rolls around.

1. Start Now

“It’s never too late, and it’s never too early, to start saving for retirement,” Ty J. Young, CEO of Ty J. Young, Inc., a nationwide wealth management firm, said.

2. Don’t Fear Your Finances

“A healthy relationship with money is absolutely crucial,” Attila Morgan, Nuvision Credit Union’s manager of community engagement and public relations, said. If you shy away from planning for retirement, you’ll pay the consequences down the line.

3. Think About How Much You’ll Need

“It’s crucial that you know how much money you will need in retirement,” Roger Cowen, a retirement planner and owner of Cowen Tax Advisory Group in Hartford, Connecticut, said. This way, you’ll have an easier time figuring out an amount to save or invest. Don’t forget about inflation.

4. Pay Your Savings Account

There are bills that must be paid but you also need to pay yourself. This doesn’t mean buy something new — it means putting money aside for your future. As Warren Buffett said, “Don’t save what’s left after spending — spend what’s left after saving.”

5. Avoid the Couch Cushions

You won’t gain anything from hiding money under the mattress or in the couch cushion. Take that money to the bank. Sure, interest rates may not be high, but it’s still extra money you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

6. Make Sure You Have a Rainy Day Fund … 

Experts generally recommend having at least three months worth of expenses socked away for emergencies. The amount you’ll need will change over time, so make sure it stays at the level you’d need.

7. … & Only Withdraw in Emergencies

You’ll want to use your emergency fund for “unexpected events, rather than dipping into your retirement savings,” Chad Smith, wealth management strategist at HD Vest, a financial services firm in Irving, Texas, said.

8. Set Up Automatic Transfers

Having the money directly transferred will make [saving] easier,” Cowen said.

9. Avoid Duplicates

If you’re paying for multiple streaming services as well as cable, decide what you can cut. Same goes for multiple magazine subscriptions that you read online. Anywhere you’re doubling up, try to cut back.

10. Maintain Good Credit Card Habits

“Start small. Pay on time and pay of the balance in full at the end of each month,” Cowen said. This can help you maintain good credit.

11. Monitor Your Credit Scores

“Know your credit score and monitor it often,” Marc Cenedella, CEO of career website Ladders, said. Having good credit can help you get better terms and conditions “when it comes to taking out a line of credit or mortgage, which will make a big difference in your ability to retire at 65.” (Not sure where your credit stands? Find out right here on Credit.com.)

12. Invest in the Stock Market

“I think millennials are making a big mistake by not investing,” James Goodnow, an attorney at Fennemore Craig in Phoenix, Arizona, said. “If you take a long-term horizon, the market is still a safe bet.”

13. Don’t Shy Away Entirely From Risks

“We as millennials are in a fortunate position,” Goodnow said. “Because of our age, we are able to weather storms in ways that investors from other generations cannot. If there is another dip or crash, we have time on our side to help us recover.”

14. Utilize Your Company Matching

“If you aren’t contributing enough to get the free match from your employer, you are throwing money away,” Cowen said.

15. Consider a Roth IRA

Roth accounts are not taxed if you make withdrawals after retiring. “Starting young is the key to retiring rich and the Roth account is the best way to accomplish this,” according to Adam Bergman, the president of IRA Financial Group.

16. A Little in Column A, a Little in Column B

“Do not put all of your eggs in one basket — diversification is key, ” Richard W. Rausser, senior vice president of client services at Pentegra Retirement Services in White Plains, New York, said.

17. Adjust When You Get a Raise

“Increase your 401K savings every time you get a pay raise, no matter what,” Rausser said.

18. Evaluate Your Portfolio Over Time

“As you accrue a larger portfolio, take your winnings off the table often,” Young said. This way, you aren’t leaving all you earn at risk.

19. Review Your Budget

Just like you check in on your portfolio, you’ll want to look at your personal finances. Young recommends you “review your finances every three months to determine where you can save.”

20. Avoid Early Withdrawals 

If you withdraw from your retirement plan before you’re at the qualifying age to do so, you’ll face a penalty and won’t benefit from this account the way you could.

21. Live Within Your Means

It’s important that you write down a budget to help you spend only what you can afford and prevent you from racking up credit card debt,” Cowen said.

22. Consider Heading Home

“If a new grad chooses to live at home for two years after graduation and puts the money that he/she saves on rent toward retirement, this grad could retire five years earlier,” Cowen said.

23. Move Somewhere New

There are plenty of big cities that are affordable (you can find a list of them here), so if you’re spending too much now that prevents you from saving for your future, you may want to consider relocating.

24. Don’t Buy a McMansion

The big house with all the bedrooms may seem like a nice idea, but if it’s out of your price range, you’ll find yourself in hot water. You can go here to learn how to decipher how much house you can truly afford.

25. Let Technology Help You

Use savings and financial planning software … so you can manage how much you save, spend, invest and donate,” Cenedella said.

26. Ask for Advice

Garner experience from those who have “been there, done that.” You never know what gems of wisdom they may have.

27. Set Goals

“Work to create a goals-based plan,” Smith said. “This will show you how saving over time can lead to retirement.”

28. Negotiate Your Salary                    

“Even an extra $5,000 can help at each stage,” Cenedella said. “The compounding effect is enormous, and there’s always room to negotiate.”

29. Always Have a Plan B

If your company downsizes, what will you do? It’s important to have a fallback plan at any age in case your current one doesn’t work out.

30. Don’t Rely on Your Credit Cards

Racking up a lot of credit card debt means additional interest fees and serious stress. Only charge what you can truly afford.

31. Make Money From Your Hobbies

“Teach guitar lessons, buy items at a garage sale and then resell them online or pet sit for a family,” Cowen suggested. “These are just examples of personal hobbies that could turn into extra cash.”

32. Sell Things You Don’t Need

Whether you post your items on eBay or have a garage sale, it’s better to profit from what you don’t use than to have it lying around taking up space. The money you get can go toward your IRA, savings or even paying off debt. (Want more ideas? Here are 50 ways to help you stay out of debt.)

33. Keep Your Old Car

The shiny new cars on the lot may be alluring, but if your car still runs fine and doesn’t require a lot of repairs, it may be smart to hang on to it.

34. Shop Around for Better Rates

Whether it’s how much you pay for cable or your car insurance policy, make sure you’re getting the best deal.

35. Say Goodbye to Annual Fees

If you’re carrying a credit card with an annual fee that you rarely use or that doesn’t offer perks that truly benefit you, consider cutting ties and getting a credit card with no annual fee. Just make sure your credit can handle the ding of canceling a credit card before doing so.

36. Be Careful with Co-Signing

“Co-signers are on the hook for timely loan repayment, so any missed payments — even for someone else’s loan — can hurt a credit score,” according to credit bureau TransUnion.

37. Pay Off Student Loans as Early as Possible …

The sooner you get these off your back, the less you will pay in interest over the years.

38. … But Don’t Put All Your Extra Money Toward Debts

It’s good to focus on paying off your loans and other debts, but you still want to set money aside for retirement — even if it’s just $1 every day, or $10 every pay check. Something is better than nothing.

39. Go for the Health Benefits

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) help you save to cover healthcare costs with contributions that are tax-deductible (or pretax, if made through payroll deduction) and any interest earned is tax-free.

40. Consider the Protection You Get from Insurance

“You’ll save a lot of money over the next 30 – 40 years as you ready for retirement,” Dan Green, CEO of Growella, said. “All it takes is one accident, though, to clear those savings out. That’s the point of insurance … you get protection from loss.”

41. Establish Healthy Habits

Because unhealthy ones are expensive.

42. Turn Savings Into Investments

“Take advantage of transportation savings or flexible spending accounts that can save you money,” Cenedella said. “Invest the amount you save.”

43. Find Ways to Lower Your Bills

Whether it’s energy-efficient light bulbs or a smart thermostat, cutting costs on bills you have to pay can really help fatten up your wallet.

44. Invest Your Tax Refund

Getting money back from Uncle Sam may be just the ticket to increasing your investments.

45. Do the Same with a Bonus

If your boss rewards you for a job well done, consider taking part of that money and putting it toward your retirement savings or investments.

46. Strategize When You’ll Take Social Security

Even if you retire at 65, you may opt to wait until you’re at least 70 to start collecting on Social Security to make sure you get the most out of these monthly payments.

47. Prioritize

You may want to save more for your child’s education, but remember: They can take out a student loan or work a part-time job to pay for school. You can’t take out a retirement loan.

48. See If You Qualify for an IDA

Some people qualify for an Individual Development Account (IDA), where contributed amounts are matched.

49. Consider Meeting with a Financial Adviser

If you want more guidance from a professional, it’s a good idea to find one who is certified by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

50. Get Educated

“Invest in the stock market and the Forex market, but first get educated in both types of investments and do the math,” said Robyn Mancell, partner at Girls Gone Forex, a company that teaches women how to trade in the market.

Image: monkeybusinessimages

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Millennials: Will Work for Travel

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It’s better to work to live, rather than live to work. Millennials are taking that sage advice one step farther, according to a new poll: They work to travel.

The ability to travel is nearly as essential a work motivator as food and shelter, millennials told surveyors recently. It’s a result that employers should consider carefully.

In the same online poll, conducted by job search site FlexJobs.com, young workers said they would take steep pay cuts — as high as 20% — in exchange for more flexibility at work. And nearly two-thirds said they’d be more productive working at home than at the office.

Meanwhile, 34% said they’d left a job because it didn’t provide enough flexibility. And another 24% said they are currently looking for a new job with more flexibility.

“Since millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. labor workforce, it’s critical that companies pay attention to how, where and when they work best,” said Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs.

Fully 70% of millennials identified the desire to travel as a primary reason to work, second only to paying for basic necessities (88%), FlexJobs said.

Only 47% of Baby Boomers said travel was a primary reason for work.

Other less-cited reasons that millennials work:

  • Passionate about success in my field (60%);
  • To have a professional impact on the world (49%);
  • To pay for continuing education (36%);
  • To pay for child-related costs (29%) or support their parents (21%).

The FlexJobs online poll was self-selected, and included about 3,000 responses: Millennials (678 respondents), Gen Xers (1,358 respondents), and Boomers (845 respondents).

The Boston Consulting Group says that millennials have particular travel habits, too. They want to see the world, clearly. In a survey, far more millennials than non-millennials told BCG they want to visit every continent (70% versus 48%) and to travel abroad as much as possible (75% vs. 52%).

Traveling More, Longer & Smarter

Because millennials are marrying older, they tend to take trips in groups with friends. They also book further in advance, book fewer (but longer) trips, and work hard to find good deals, BCG said.

“(They) tend to see booking as more of a game and respond opportunistically to low prices and interesting packages,” BCG wrote in a recent report.

It makes sense that younger workers with less income would be more deal sensitive … and more inclined to hop on a deeply-discounted, last-minute, four-day Europe trip. It then follows that young workers want the ability to make sudden requests for four-day weekends.

That’s partly why, in the FlexJobs survey, work flexibility was cited by 82% of millennials as important when evaluating a job prospect, well above factors like as health insurance (48%), company reputation (45%), and retirement benefits (36%).

It should also be no surprise that millennials are twice as likely as boomers (11% to 6%) to show strong preference for working at a coffee shop or other place outside the office.

Flexibility = Loyalty

“Millennials said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options and nearly a quarter would be willing to work more hours,” Sutton Fell said. “So offering millennials work flexibility isn’t just a strategy to avoid negative consequences like losing talent — employers have a lot to gain by modifying their strict, traditional, office-based model of working.”

Remember, if you love to travel, the right credit card can make all the difference. If you’re shopping for a new airline credit card or travel rewards card, it’s a good idea to consider how often you travel and whether you tend to patronize a particular carrier. If you do fly a single carrier, or its partners, that company’s mileage card can be the right choice for you. But if you don’t have a hub in your area or your flights are varied, you might to look into general travel rewards credit cards.

You can also consider maximizing rewards by accumulating airline miles via loyalty programs, and complementing that balance by earning credit card rewards that can be transferred to those airlines.

If you’re in the market for a new credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit before you apply, as a good credit score can help you qualify for better terms and rates. You can see where you currently stand by viewing two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund

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The Average American Has 7.2 Jobs by Age 28

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Feel like you’re bouncing around between jobs? Have no fear, you are hardly alone. A typical young adult in the U.S. has held an average of 7.2 jobs by age 28, new research shows, which is roughly equivalent to having one new employer each year.

The study, released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, examined a nationally representative group of 9,000 young men and women born between 1980 and 1984.

As you’d expect, the job change rates slow as young adults age, but not much: “Individuals held an average of 3.9 jobs in the four-year period from ages 18 to 21. The number of jobs individuals held dropped to 2.7 in the three-year period from ages 22 to 24, and then dropped further to 2.5 in the four-year period from ages 25 to 28,” the report said.

In other words, even into their late 20s, young adults held onto their jobs, on average, for only about 18 months. A “job” in the survey is defined as a period of work with a specific employer; being promoted at the same place of employment would not constitute a new job in this research.

Surprisingly, the rapid rate of job change doesn’t vary much among gender and doesn’t change much among men despite their level of educational attainment. On the other hand, women who spent more time in school changed jobs more frequently.

“Women with a bachelor’s degree held eight jobs from ages 18 through 28, compared with 5.6 jobs for female high school dropouts,” the study found.

People with lower levels of educational attainment see their jobs end quicker. Female high school dropouts held jobs for the shortest duration, with 52% of jobs ending in less than six months, for example.

Job change rate didn’t vary much among race. Hispanic or Latino individuals in the group held 6.5 jobs during the 10-year span while African Americans held 6.8 and whites held 7.5. Education levels didn’t affect whites or Hispanics but did affect African-Americans. Members of that group held only five jobs when failing to earn a high school diploma, but 7.1 when earning a college degree or higher.

Of course, the better question is: Are people job hopping more in today’s economy? Job hopping data isn’t actually that easy to come by. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have data on the number of jobs held during an average American’s lifetime, for example, despite persistent conventional wisdom that adults today will undertake multiple careers — up to seven! — before they retire.

However, a similar study released last year offers some helpful context. Baby boomers born between 1957 and 1964 held 11.7 jobs from ages 18 to 48. They also held 5.5 jobs from ages 18 to 24. There was no 18 to 28 calculation, so an apples-to-apples comparison isn’t possible. But data on the boomers suggests millennials aren’t job hopping that much more than their parents.

No matter your demographic, it’s a good idea to check your credit before your start a job search, since some employers pull a version of your credit report as part of the job application process. You can see where your credit currently stands by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com or viewing your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: Randy Faris/Fuse

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How Millennials are Redefining the Non-profit World

Geeting advice on future investments

If you’ve always suspected that millennials have hearts of gold, a new study from Merill Lynch may help solidify that opinion. According to findings from this new report, 60 percent of millennials are interested in starting their own organization to give something back.

Of course being interested in starting a non-profit and doing so successfully are two very different things. Matthew Dupuis is a Merill Lynch financial advisor who has worked with dozens of millennials and other clients to help them set up their non-profits. Here’s what he had to say about getting started on the right foot.

What are some of the most common mistakes millennials make when trying to set up a non-profit? 

Dupuis: There are so many great organizations and amazing ideas out there, breaking through to the mainstream is difficult. Take the time to understand what you are trying to achieve, the impact you want to have, and how you plan to get there. It’s so important to do your homework and understand what it takes to build out the infrastructure from scratch, both from a financial and time perspective. Surrounding yourself with people who share your same passions and ambition to make a difference is critical. Setting unrealistic expectations is one of the biggest issues I see.

Also, make sure you are balancing the efforts it takes to set up a non-profit with other personal goals. Particularly for millennials, you still need to be sure to be saving for a rainy day fund or even long-term, such as retirement. Setting up an organization requires heavy lifting, and some people fall short of their personal goals when they don’t look at the big picture. 

For more on how to save for retirement on an inconsistent income, check out this piece, or read this one about how to jump start retirement savings after 40.

What are the three most important things you need to do when trying to set up a non-profit? 

Dupuis: First, take the process one step at a time and have patience — get to know what you’re trying to do and what the roadblocks in front of you might be.

Second, find someone to act as an advisor so you bounce ideas off them and really use them as a soundboard. A good advisor will be able to point you in the right direction and help you put a working plan in place.

Third, understand and focus on what your short, medium and long-term goals are. One of my clients, Clarissa Black, is the founder of Pets for Vets, which matches shelter dogs to returning veterans to help them with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, anxiety and depression. As Clarissa was building out the program, we spent time talking about what kept her up at night, the impact she wanted to deliver, and what she was ultimately hoping to achieve. By having a goals-based plan in place, we are able to identify the right solutions to build out the organization for the long-haul.

What other advice do you have, particularly for millennials interested in setting up a non-profit?

Dupuis: Keep in mind it’s never too early to talk with an advisor about putting a plan in place and how you can structure your assets to meet your financial goals. Contributing time and/or money for something that’s important to you is becoming a part of many people’s goals and aspirations. And for those who might not be looking to start a non-profit but want to give, there are organizations and investments you can consider to make an impact. Millennials are redefining philanthropic giving, both in the form of time and money. It’s no longer all about how much one can accumulate, but rather how much one can give back to something they’re passionate about during their lifetime. This millennial generation is making positive impacts every single day and will be alive to see their determinations become realities.

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