Millennials, your late 20s and early 30s are a key time to get your financial plans in order. Thanks to compound interest, the sooner you pay off student loans or other debts and start investing, the more likely you are to meet your goals. These tips cover the most important parts of financial planning for Millennials so you can stop stressing over money and begin investing in real estate with confidence for a solid financial foundation.
Build an Emergency Fund
You may not think this applies to you, but it does. Here’s why: More than half of American families can’t handle a financial emergency. That means they turn to title loans, payday lending or pawn shops when they need funds quickly. You don’t want to end up in that situation. Instead, build a savings account specifically for covering unexpected bills or loss of income. This account should have enough money to cover three to 12 months of expenses, depending on your tolerance for risk. Personally, I have about three to four months of expenses covered. And when you need to repair your car, pay a medical bill or replace your water heater, this emergency fund will cover the cost and protect you from high-interest loans.
Snowball or Avalanche: Pay Off Your Debts
Don’t be discouraged by your debt burden. You can pay off your student loans, get out from under your crushing credit card balances and enjoy a debt-free life. You just have to be willing to tackle your problems. Start by making a list of all the money you owe, the balance on each account and the annual interest rate. If you struggle with motivation, pay off the smallest loan first. This snowball method lets you start with an easily achievable goal and build momentum. To pay off your debts in the most efficient manner, tackle the loans with the highest interest rates first. It’s harder to stay motivated, but this technique, called the avalanche method, saves you money by prioritizing the most expensive loans. Using either method, do your best to decrease those high-interest rates – negotiate, negotiate, negotiate!
Change Jobs – But Keep Your Retirement Savings
The average Millennial changes jobs every two to five years. When you’re young, switching companies is a great way to upgrade your title, responsibilities and salary. However, it can impede your retirement goals without proper planning. Cashing out a company-sponsored 401(k) or 403(b) might seem like a quick way to get some easy funds, but you’ll pay a steep price for that money. The federal government can take up to 30% of your money as an early withdrawal penalty. Plus, they’ll charge you income taxes on the funds. Instead of paying Uncle Sam steep fees, roll your retirement money into an IRA. It’s easy to open one with your current investment firm or an online broker, and you’ll keep your wealth where it belongs: under your control.
It’s OK to Trust the Stock Market While You’re Young
If you came of age during the Great Recession, it’s hard to trust the stock market. You saw families lose their homes and loved ones suffer huge setbacks in retirement, so you are understandably hesitant to put your hard-earned paychecks into such a volatile system. Now is the time in your life to be courageous and take calculated financial risks. The stock market bounces up and down in the short-term, but it always grows in the long run. In fact, if you had invested money in stocks at the start of the 2008 crash and kept them there, those funds would have doubled in value by 2016. Stocks aren’t the safest option for older workers nearing retirement, but they’re a good way for you to grow your funds over the next few decades. With any investment, due diligence is key. Know what you’re getting yourself into and possible exit strategies.
Wholesale Real Estate for Income and Knowledge of the Game
It’s important to realize that investing in real estate can magnify your wealth. Depending on the type of real estate investments you fancy, you can capitalize on income, depreciation, appreciation, equity and leverage from the property. Wholesaling is a great way to learn your local real estate market, the basic industry vocabulary and the conversation. Simply put, the objective for real estate wholesalers is to:
- Find a motivated seller
- Put the seller’s home under contract
- Find an interested cash investor-buyer
- Assign the existing contract to the buyer for an “assignment fee”
These types of deals occur nationwide, every day. To learn more about wholesaling, visit my friends at www.WholesalerMornings.com.
So whether you’re trying to pay off six figures of debt or manage a six-figure income, now is the time to focus on your finances. Don’t put off retirement planning, debt management or learning about personal money management and real estate investment until you’re older. Start making good decisions now, and you’ll enjoy emotional and financial dividends for decades to come.