Part Two: How to Have Everything You Want

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In our last post, we were asking how millennials are supposed to take care of their needs and lifestyle, their debt, their savings, all at the same time. It seems like if you have debt, you can’t also save, or sometimes it feels like if you’re saving you can’t also be spending. We want to challenge this way of thinking about your money.

For starters, we don’t think the breakdown actually looks like this:

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You can choose all three. And more importantly, you should! Millennials need to break out of the mindset that saving is something they should start doing when everything else is completely taken care of. The only exception would be high-interest credit card debt—unlike student loan debt, credit card debt will seriously damage your credit score and also cost you a lot more over time because of brutal interest rates. But if you’re carrying student loans, even on a salary of $30,000, you can find ways to save!

Two Words: Automated Payments

Seriously—this is the trick to saving smart! Automate payments from your checking account to your savings account. Even if it’s only $25 a week, that’ll be $100 a month—at the end of the year, you’ll have $1,200 in a savings account, which is the minimum you should save to create an emergency fund. Automating payments to your student loans is also a great idea; try to do it at the beginning of your pay period, so instead of asking what you have left at the end of the month to put towards your debt or savings, you’re asking what you have left to put toward your fun. Carrying student loan debt for longer than absolutely necessary won’t hurt you as much as it’ll hurt you to have no savings, and in fact it’ll help build your credit score!

Set Priorities

You do not have to give up the things you love in order to save, though you should prioritize. There are no wrong choices when it comes to what you’re buying, there are only your choices. If you want to spend a significant portion of your income on cocktails, lattes, or shoes, do it! This might mean you’ll have to cut back in terms of eating out or taking vacations, of course. Everyone has different priorities, and the whole point is to enable you to meet yours!

Make a Financial Plan

This is really the key for success. Most people are afraid of charting out their finances because they think they’ll realize they don’t have enough, but at Earn It Use It, our message is that you have more than enough to get started! Financial planning is a way to empower yourself to get the things you want from your life, whatever those things are. Planning will make your money go farther, and help you effectively start saving even while you’re spending or paying off your debt.

So go get started! There is no time like now when it comes to planning for your future, your independence, and your dreams. 

E. Scott Erickson’s vision is to empower Americans through financial education. For the last 30 years, he has been a successful financial advisor and avid public speaker in the Pacific Northwest.

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