When it comes to their finances, millennials face some major challenges. They’re under enormous pressure to save as much as possible for retirement while paying down oversized student loan bills. And they’re entering a job market where wages have more or less flatlined. All of that adds up to some serious anxiety. Wondering what’s bothering millennials the most? SmartAsset looks at some of their most common money concerns and how to beat them.
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1. Being Crushed by Student Loan Debt
As student debt continues to balloon, more and more grads are leaving school owing five and even six figures. Those high balances are keeping some millennials from hitting major milestones like buying a home, getting married and even building up an emergency fund.
Debt-laden 20-somethings need a strategy and a timeline for dealing with their student loans so they’re not crippled financially. Refinancing or consolidating can make the payments more manageable and possibly bring the interest rates down. Looking into loan forgiveness programs is another option, depending on what career path you’ve taken.
If you can’t pay off your student loans, your lender may offer temporary deferment or forbearance. The point is, you have options. But you have to make the effort to explore them if you want to get a grip on your debt.
2. Not Being Able to Save
Saving for retirement is another important financial to-do that many millennials are putting off. For some, student loans are the problem while others are stuck in low-paying jobs. Meanwhile, they’re constantly bombarded with news stories about how Social Security is drying up, all of which culminates in a pretty bleak outlook for their retirement prospects.
For 20-somethings, getting past their retirement fears means letting go of the idea that they need to be saving huge amounts of money each month. For example, setting aside a percentage of your wages in a Roth IRA now can leave you with thousands of dollars to spend in retirement. The most important thing to remember is that time is on your side and you can still build wealth even if you’re starting small.
Find out now: How much do I need to save for retirement?
3. Choosing the Wrong Investments
Millennials had a front row seat for the ways in which the fallout from the financial crisis impacted their parents and grandparents. After watching stocks tank and seeing the housing market collapse, it’s natural for them to be leery of sinking big money into stocks. Millennial investors are more likely than any other generation to keep the bulk of their assets in cash.
While cash feels safer, it’s not going to yield the kind of growth that 20-somethings need to aim for if they want to build sustainable wealth. Instead, it’s a good idea for them to move towards low-cost, higher-risk investments like exchange-traded funds that can generate solid returns without carrying too many fees. Learning about how the market works can help millennials quell any fears they may have about losing their hard-earned dollars.
4. Losing a Job
Although the job outlook in the U.S. continues to improve, many millennials are still anxious about their employment situation. While there’s no way to predict when a job loss will occur, 20-somethings can do something to hedge their bets in the meantime, starting with building an emergency fund.
If you don’t have anything saved, your number-one priority might need to be setting aside a portion of your expenses. From there, you can work your way up to saving three to six months of your wages, which can hold you over for a while if you get laid off.
Aside from saving, millennials can also consider creating additional streams of income. A side hustle – whether it’s freelancing online, mowing lawns or tutoring local students – can be a lifesaver if your regular gig falls through.
Related Article: Budgeting for a Rainy Day – How to Grow an Emergency Fund
Letting your emotions control how you manage your money can lead to disaster if it causes you to make bad decisions. For millennials, having a solid action plan in place is the best way to kick money fears to the curb.
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