One thing that we can all agree on: Building wealth is important.
These wealth building strategies can help you pay off student loans, save money, and make money online while building wealth over time.
These wealth building strategies can work over time for just about anyone to help you create wealth. It is possible to build wealth but for those unfortunate people with very high amounts of debt it may seem out of reach.
To me there seems to be a vast financial gap between millennials. I believe this is due to a burdening amount student of loans owed and how they prioritize paying off these loans. In talking with friends and networking with people about rising student loan debt it’s no surprise that they feel stressed by the financial burden.
One person comes to mind, John, who was sold the college dream and now has a sum of $100,000 in student loan debt and is currently unemployed! For him, the benefits of having a diploma may seem a long way off.
John needed help and I came up with a plan for him to start rebuilding wealth. First of all, he needed to make money to pay off his student loans and other debt. This feat sounds difficult with him at the time being jobless.
So step 1 was to get him a decent paying job in order to pay down his debt. So the first thing is to get him looking good on paper so companies want to bring him through the doors for an initial interview.
I wanted to help him out by revising his resume (I revise resumes on the side, you can get yours revised here).
With his newly minted resume and his polished interviewing skills, he was able to land a job in a few weeks. Still, building wealth seems like a pipe dream at this point for him.
So what’s next for John and millennials in order for them to start building wealth?
1. Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is a pot of money that you have earmarked and separated from your other accounts to be used solely for just that – emergencies. It’s not a vacation fund, it’s not a down payment fund; it’s an “oh no, my car just broke down and it’s going to cost HOW much to repair?!” fund.
There will be countless times in your life when large expenses come out of the blue, and you don’t want to get blind-sided when they do. This is your rainy day fund. This is your piece-of-mind fund. Should your washing machine lose its mind while you’re at work one day, leaking water all over the place and you come home to a swimming pool in your living room, think of your emergency fund as your paddle.
Too often as a society do we fall into the trap of being ill prepared for unanticipated financial burdens. Out of necessity and desperation, we turn to credit cards and personal loans to cover the costs that we didn’t see coming. While credit cards and loans have their purposes, we have become overly dependent on them, and this dependence coupled with high-interest rates keep us bound to the mounting debt around us.
This is the main reason having an emergency fund is so important – to enable us to cover unforeseen expenses without accruing additional debt and without breaking the bank.
Often, people find excuses as to why they don’t have an emergency fund. It’s tough because millennials can argue that this can be used to pay bills or invest. However, it’s common knowledge that after all basic needs are meant you should start saving for an emergency fund which is typically 6-month living expenses. You’re likely to get more debt if you don’t have an emergency fund readily available and liquid.
Easier said than done, right? So, I told John he’ll need to build one over time, and with overwhelming student loans, monthly bills, groceries, and having something left over to just live your life, this can seem like a daunting and seemingly unreasonable proposition. If that sounds like you then this may be the most important notion that you take from this article: saving money is habitual, and establishing good habits takes practice.
2. Live Well Below Your Means
I am surrounded by poor people making the same wage. These people are poor not in the sense of low income but well spent beyond their means. Many of them don’t have an active budget, finance expensive cars, and keep buying on credit. I would say if you are spending more then 30% – 40% on housing your likely living beyond your means on that alone. Saving money is key, look for ways to reduce spending and save at least 10% of your monthly income. This can be done by budgeting!
A budget allows you to live comfortably within your means with enough left over to save for long-term goals. Start by adding up all your income from employment and other side hustles.
Then tally your monthly expenses. Include your student loans monthly payments, credit card debt, car loans, all basic living expenses such as rent, utilities, transportation, and food, as well as meals out and other entertainment. A budget worksheet will ensure that no expenses are omitted.
Next, subtract expenses from your income to get a picture of how much you have left over each month. You can then set goals and decide how much the surplus should be invested. Ideally, if you already have step 1 completed then this surplus should be used to make a bigger payment on your student loans or other debt.
I use Personal Capital to manage my finances. It is important to keep track of your finances to build great wealth over time. Sign up with Personal Capital, a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I used Mint to manage my finances however that was a waste of time. Now, by using Personal Capital, I can clearly see how my investments (401K, Roth IRA, Investment Accounts) are doing as well as my regular banking, credit cards, and also see how my net worth is progressing. I can also see how much I’m spending every month. There is no better financial tool online that has helped me more to achieve financial freedom. It only takes a minute to sign up.
I really recommend it for people really trying to build wealth as you can really map out your financial life. In an effort to remain transparent on my blog, I’m including my over budget expenses for the month as of December 23rd, 2016. I overspent this month due to an unforeseen car repair, holiday shopping, eating out and frankly high bar tabs. No bueno.
- Wealth Building Strategies: Track your budgets closely
I’m currently over budget for the month by $291.75 which is not good and frankly a little embarrassing since I am preaching how to budget… However, if you DON’T have a method of keeping track of your spending then you won’t even know that you are over budget for the month.
I made it a goal to not a spend a single dollar this past week since I am so over budget already. For you, if your expenses exceed your income, you’ll need to figure out how to cut expenses, perhaps by scaling down to a cheaper part of town where rent isn’t as expensive or increase income by starting your own blog or ways to make money online, or a better job. Tracking small daily expenses can help you see which can be reduced or eliminated.
3. Pay Down Debt Before Spending on Entertainment
I graduated college with a Finance Degree in May 2013 and I made my very last student loan payment less than 1 year later. I paid off around $45,000 in debt stemming from student loans, car loans, and credit card balances. Being debt free I was able to significantly put more money toward savings and investments in addition to having more leeway with my daily spending.
One big key was making more than minimum payments every chance I got. I would pay off $2000 and $1000 payments at a time. I also started paying immediately and as soon as I got my first check, I made a payment. I actually started paying while I was in college.
I really immersed myself in financial literature in order to build a rock solid understanding on what a millennial needs to do in this economy to prosper and build wealth.
- Wealth Building Strategies: Pay off the highest-interest-rate loans first.
Make the hard choices now so that you can build wealth later.
For you, once you’ve got your basic expenses and income down, it’s time to refine your plan in order to build wealth over time. Remember to always pay yourself first and deposit something each month to savings. After that, pay basic living expenses and pay down any student loans, credit card debt, or other debt before spending on entertainment.
While you may have a unique financial situation, this basic budget allocation works well for many: 50 percent toward living expenses, 20 percent to be divided among regular savings, an emergency fund and paying down debt, and 30 percent for entertainment. As time passes, revisit your budget.
4. Refinance Your Student Loans
If you are thinking about building wealth and have student loans, then you should know about SoFi. SoFi is a social lending company that provides rates as low as 1.9% variable with auto pay and 3.5% fixed with auto pay. They can offer lower rates than the rest because they analyze you based on merit, quality of employment, and education besides just a credit score and financials. There are zero origination and prepayment fees. Offer terms are from 5, 10, 15, 20 years in both fixed and variable. Both private and public student loans can be refinanced.
Besides low rates, one of their best features is their unemployment benefits. If you lose your job while repaying your loans, you don’t have to pay your loan for up to 12 months while you look for a new job! Interest will still accrue, but having this cash flow break is a huge benefit. They also provide job assistance guidance as well. You can apply to refinance or apply for a new student loan here.
The silver lining to this story is that more millennials are pursuing higher education, even if they are taking out loans to do so. Some economists are troubled by the fact that fewer people under 30 are buying homes and other goods as more are paying for college, but higher education is, on the whole, a solid place to put your money.
In 2010, the median earning for young adults with bachelor’s degrees were 50 percent higher than those of their counterparts with high school diplomas. But for many members of the millennial generation, the benefits of having a diploma may seem a long way off. If you can take away one thing from write up is the basic equation of: Savings x Time = Wealth.
In order to save you need to pay off debt first, and in order to do that you need to have a tight budget and an excess goes to paying off debt. I really focused on building wealth at the beginning of my working years, not trying to wait until the end.
Once I was debt free I was able to significantly put more money toward savings and investments in addition to having more leeway for my daily spending (which is why I was over budget this month).