Hindsight, as “They” say, is 20/20.
(Who “They” are, nobody seems to know; but “They” do say a lot of things)
At any rate, most people will agree it’s easy to see how clever doing something would have been once the opportunity has passed. For example, how many Boomers would have bought Amazon stock back in 1997 if they knew then what they know now?
Thus, if you’re smart enough to be reading this now—and heed the advice—you’ll be solidly ahead of the game when your twilight years roll around.
So, here’s how to avoid the money mistakes most Millennials make.
Hey, if you’ve been under the thumb of a frugal parent for a long time and you finally have the means to get whatever you want, splurging is bound to happen.
As a result, Millennials tend to eat out more often, buy expensive coffee and pricey new electronics, as well as spend more on clothes. These are all areas in which the pain of cutting back wouldn’t be terribly significant.
Accepting sacrifice is key to learning how to manage money.
Relying on Credit
There’s no question about it, we do live in a plastic-based economy these days. Whether its debit cards or credit cards, hardly anyone uses cash anymore. This is not an altogether bad thing.
However when you’re using credit cards heavily—and carrying a balance from month to month—you’re paying a lot more for items than you really need to pay. That balance attracts interest and if poorly managed, that interest will attract interest too. Before you know it, your credit card bill can be out of control.
On the other hand, it’s important to embrace credit.
After all, you’re going to need to buy a car at some point. You’re going to need to qualify for an apartment or a mortgage as well. Any of those will be difficult to do without a credit history. So get a credit card—yes. Just use it wisely. Don’t charge more than you can pay off each month and don’t use it to “treat yo’self”.
Turns out Millennials are the least likely demographic group to have insurance. This includes car, health, renter’s or disability coverage. As a result, you are going to be exceptionally vulnerable to financial setbacks when (not if—when) something unexpected happens.
Much of this mindset is attributed to the feeling of invulnerability that comes with being young. But reality is like Kryptonite. In any of the instances cited above, even a moderately significant problem could drive you into bankruptcy.
By the way, this also extends to living without an emergency fund. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and encounter a salary interruption, having an emergency fund could be the difference between paying the rent and getting evicted.
Tapping Into Retirement Funds
If you’re lucky enough to have a job with a 401 K plan and you’re getting matching contributions from your employer, it can be tempting to raid that account to get something big like a car.
That’s a colossal mistake.
You’ll pay unnecessary taxes and fees if you take the money before the account matures. You’ll also shortchange yourself in the long run. Sacrificing long term gain for immediate gratification is a choice you’ll look back upon with regret.
Your goal should always be to figure out how to do what you need to do today without jacking up tomorrow. These four money mistakes Millennials make can be extremely costly to your future. Paying attention to how the decisions you make now will impact your long-term life is one of the key building blocks of financial maturity.
The sooner you can get a handle on that one; the better off you’ll be when your 65th birthday finally rolls around. And trust us—it ‘s going to happen more quickly than you’re imagining it will.