10 Financial Tips for millennials

By definition I am a millennial but I really don’t feel like one. Why? Because I was born in the early 1980s and have been working for over 10 years. Nowadays, people seem to associate millennials as people who were born in the 1990’s and are just entering the work force. Let’s face it, it is tough to be a millennial. Post secondary education now costs more, housing costs more, food costs more, but wages have not really increased in relation to living expenses. But it’s not all doom and gloom for millennials. Millennials just need to realize that the world has changed and they need to have a different perspectives when it comes to their personal finance. Here are 10 financial tips for millennials that will help millennials to start out on the right foot.

Tawcan’s 10 Financial Tip for Millennials

  1. It’s OK to not know what you want to do. Instead starting post secondary study right after high school, take the time to travel and know yourself. This is why I think having a gap year is so great. Discover what you are passionate with and pursuit a career that is related to your passions. Last thing you want to do is go to college to become an engineer only to find out later that you hate dealing with technology and forced to go back to school for another degree.
  2. Don’t believe in traditional teaching of get a degree, get a job, work hard, get promoted, and finally retire at age 65. Things don’t work like that anymore. It’s OK to have multiple jobs and even switch field during your working career. It’s also OK to take a break from working to focus on family life.
  3. Be willing to learn. You can learn from anyone. You can learn from your CEO and you can learn from the receptionist. Job title has not association with knowledge. The receptionist may have way more life lessons you can learn from than someone who’s higher on the corporate ladder. Be humble and be polite. You probably will come cross path with people you meet again one day. Don’t burn any bridges.
  4. Always say yes to free money. This includes employer’s RRSP/401(k) match, Canadian government’s Canadian Education Savings Grant for RESP, bank’s new account bonus, and cash credit cards.
  5. Learn to ask for help and learn to say no. Need some help understanding your investment statements? Need some help with budgeting? There is no shame to ask someone to help you. You are worst off if you don’t ask. Also, it’s OK to say no. You are not forced to go out and party with friends and spend tons of money. It’s totally OK to say no so you can stay home and have a quiet night. Learn the power of no.
  6. Start saving early by paying yourself first. Set aside a certain percentage of your income for investing. What you can’t see you can’t spend.
  7. Learn about the different investing strategies like real estate, index investing, dividend investing, precious metals, business, and etc. Pick one that suits your style and stick with this strategy. Think long-term.
  8. Stop comparing with other people. Personal finance is personal. Find the right balance between saving and spending that works for you.
  9. Be happy with who you and what you have right now. If you’re not happy today, more things, more money in your bank account, or a more senior work title won’t make you happy tomorrow.
  10. Enjoy your life while you’re young. Saving for retirement is a multi-decade process. Think long-term. Don’t sweat the short-term stuff.

Conclusion

Contrary to what other people may have told you, I believe it is totally OK to make a mistake or two when you are young. The important thing is that you learn from your mistakes. Start saving today and take advantage the power of compound interest. Your future self will thank you.

Dear readers, do you have any financial tips for millennials?

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31 thoughts on “10 Financial Tips for millennials”

  1. Tawcan – Can’t disagree with any of these points, and a few in particular caught my eye:

    1) “Always say yes to free money” – I just posted a comment on MyOwnAdvisor.ca, and at the risk of repeating myself, I commented on how it amazed me how in my former job the number of my colleagues who did to take advantage of the company’s stock purchase plan. A 20% discount to market on the share price and a guarantee of at least your investment back, but so many failed to participate.

    2) “Don’t believe in traditional teaching…” – You are spot on. The days of progressing from stock boy/girl to CEO are long gone. Over the years I have transitioned from sales to lawyer in private practice to in-house, and now am at a quasi-government body. My wife is in IT sales, and the movement in that industry is incredible – if you stay put longer that a couple of years you are the exception.

    3) “Start saving early by paying yourself first” – My daughter is in her early twenties and I have been hammering away at this one. I have explained that if you just pay yourself first (for example 10% of net), you can learn to manage with the remaining as if that was all you had in the first place. I think it is sinking in, but time will tell!

    Reply
    • I am always amazed to hear people that say no to free money. It’s crazy!

      That’s really cool you have gone through so many career changes. I think that only brings more valuable life experience.

      Great thing that you’re teaching your daughter about paying yourself first. Once she gets into the habit, it’s a great idea to slowly increasing the percentage. She’ll thank you about it once she’s older.

      Reply
  2. Great list. Even though I’m a parent and want all my kids to be doctors I think it is important that kids figure out what to do on their own something that they have a strong interest in. Hopefully it will be doing something where they can earn reasonable money. They have enough time to make a few mistakes and still recover.

    Instead of worrying about retirement their immediate goal should be working towards FI right out of the gate. We need to ensure that they understand the benefits of adopting a frugal lifestyle as early as possible.

    Reply
    • My wife and I talked about supporting the kids to do what they want to do once they’re older. However being an engineer I probably will “push” them slightly toward more technical side of things… but the choice will be on them. Baby T1.0 who’s only 3 is always showing some engineering skills. 🙂

      Reply
  3. I was also born in the early 1980s but I definitely identify as a millennial (maybe going to law school helps since I didn’t join the workforce until after 3 years of additional schooling). I’m not sure what else I would be – a Gen Xer? Those guys seem old!

    Reply
  4. “Enjoy your life while you’re young. Saving for retirement is a multi-decade process. Think long-term. Don’t sweat the short-term stuff.”

    This is the most important one. The most valuable asset we all have – is time.

    Have a great weekend man.
    Mark

    Reply
  5. I am a boomer and by the quality of your advice it seems evident you don’t need any of my tips. I will say you have your head screwed on straight and wish you good luck with your journey.

    Reply
  6. Great post. I love number 3. It’s too easy to worship those with “titles”. Things aren’t always as they appear and neither are people. Don’t be impressed by status, by impressed by intellect, character, and truthfulness.

    Reply
    • Hi Mrs. Groovy,

      Agreed, title isn’t everything. Don’t be impressed by status. Definitely be impressed by intellect, character, and truthfulness. We need to focus on these qualities more in society.

      Reply
  7. Great article Tawcan! There are so many forces working against young people today like globalization, technology and climate change that are moving at an exponential rate and their ability to adapt quickly enough is causing enormous stress and anxiety. We need to help them rethink the outdated traditional views of work and retirement. Teaching them to focus on goals like financial independence, lifelong learning, finding their passion will hopefully help them adapt to the rapidly changing world around them.

    Reply
  8. Great article. I was born in ’84 and have spent almost 10 years in the working world. The majority of the advice in the article is great. The one topic I have an issue with is #1. I would do the exact opposite and have undecided majors start taking engineering classes. Engineering school provides a person with incredible problem solving and critical thinking skills that can be applied to any field. I’ve seen engineering degrees get jobs in finance, business, law, etc that don’t relate explicitly to the world of engineering.

    Reply
    • Hi JB,

      I’m one of those people that have an engineering degree but not working as an engineer. I agree, engineering school providesg incredible problem solving and critical thinking skills, these two are essential skills in life. There are countless times that I have been able to learn something new to me very quickly and apply at my job and life. When facing problems, it’s great to be able to use my problem solving and thinking skills to resolve these problems quickly. However, I’d stress that engineering school isn’t for everyone. It’s only for a certain type of people. I have seen so many people going into engineering and switching their majors because they hated engineering. I think the important thing is to study what you enjoy rather than blindly go into engineering or medical school because you were told to do so.

      Reply
      • I saw a lot of people switch out of engineering during my undergraduate years as well. I guess what I’m driving at is perhaps the humanities majors shouldn’t be the default for people who can’t decide what they want to do so they pick an easy major. If nothing else, engineering should help them make a decision or at least let a person discover that they don’t like it for themselves.

        Reply
        • I see your point now. Yes if you can’t decide what you want to do I think perhaps starting with science or engineering instead of arts would be more beneficial. Having said that, you enroll in more classes per term for engineering so you might end up paying more compared to arts students.

          Reply
  9. Definitely agree with you on all these points Tawcan. It’s amazing how much not saying no can cost you. Not just for the money side, if you don’t want to go then why go?

    And #9 is definitely the key to happiness.

    Tristan

    Reply

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