The Millennial Perspective: Where is the bridge?

“When I was your age, I already owned a home, a car, and had no student debt. What are you doing wrong?” I am willing to bet that a good chunk of Millennials have heard something along those lines from a member of an older generation such as Gen X and Baby Boomers. Well, despite being the largest generation in the workforce and in the country today, we make a great deal less and hold a lot less wealth than the older generations did at the same age. 

Wealth is defined as the measure of one’s assets (what they own) less their debts (what they owe). The generational wealth gap has been a hot topic among Millennials for a few years now and as a result, there have been many studies done to determine just how big that gap really is. When the Baby Boomers were in their 30s, they collectively held a little over 21% of the nation’s wealth. The youngest Millennials are all nearing their 30s now and collectively hold less than 4% of the nation’s wealth today. That is a pretty big difference.

I also looked into the average wage earned by Baby Boomers in their 30s. The number on paper isn’t too far off from what Millennials are earning today, so you might think, “what is the problem then?” The actual break down of the value of the dollar is the problem. The average hourly wage for Baby Boomers in 1984 was $18.99 and today the average for Millennials is $19.32 only a $0.33 difference. However, you have to look at what the value of $18.99 in 1984 would be in 2021. That number is around $48, so that means that Baby Boomers made almost 40% more in their 30s than Millennials. Imagine what living off of $40,180.60 today versus living off of a little less than $98,000 a year would be like. The quality of life is vastly different.

Millennials are savings far less, if anything, for retirement and have far less assets than the older generations had at this age. This is because the cost of living is increasing much faster than what we are being paid. This is how the gap has grown to be so large. Millennials, and even Gen X, are not on track to hold has much wealth as Baby Boomers do when they are near retirement age. Speaking from experience, it can be hard to find a budget that works for the quality of life you want while still preparing for the future, but it helps to talk to a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to find a system that is right for you.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more to the generational wealth gap when you really investigate it, including trickle down economics, so if you are looking for some light reading then I encourage you to dive in. I also believe that we have a long way to go before we bridge this gap. Until then, the next time someone starts a money discussion with, “when I was your age,” you have a couple of talking points to get by.

Resources:

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College Loan Confusion

College students have steep learning curves. In high school, they were tasked with doing well academically, participating in extracurricular activities, complying with the rules of their parents’ homes and, possibly, having a job. At college, they must decide what to study, how many credits to take, and other important decisions, while adapting to a new environment and learning to manage time, communicate with professors and administrators, network with peers, and manage finances.

A key aspect of finances for many college students is student loans. When scholarships, grants, income, and savings are not enough to cover the cost, students often borrow to pay for college. In fact, student loan debt just became the second highest consumer debt category, passing credit cards but still lagging mortgages. In 2020, student debt passed over $1.56 trillion. As part of the Covid-19, relief the government passed numerous student relief programs, but student loan debt continues to grow as the average student loan debt of the 2018 graduating class was roughly $29,200. On average, student loan debt in the us tops out at $32,731, with roughly 10.8 percent in delinquency or default. 

At graduation, accumulated debt may include:

  • Direct subsidized loans (the government pays interest while students are in school)
  • Direct unsubsidized loans (students owe interest while in school)
  • Direct PLUS loans (for parents and graduate students)
  • Perkins loans
  • State and private loans (usually co-signed with an adult) 

Different types of loans offer different interest rates and repayment schedules. The federal government finances some loans. Private lenders finance others. Some loans are need-based, while others are not. One option available now is to consolidate student loans on the private market. Companies have emerged offering lower rates to borrowers, but this comes with tradeoffs like giving up certain federal protections. 

There are a lot of details to understand and track when students borrow. That’s one reason many colleges and universities require student borrowers to attend loan counseling sessions before receiving loans. Unfortunately, the survey found few students retain much of the information presented:

  • 94 percent of students did not know their repayment terms
  • 93 percent were uncertain what type of loan they held
  • 92 percent did not know their current loan interest rates
  • 75 percent understood how interest rates work

A Brookings Institute study found about one-half of students underestimate the amount of debt they have and one-third cannot provide an accurate estimate of their debt. The survey concluded:

“It is clear from the analysis presented here that enrolled college students do not have a firm grasp on their financial positions, including both the price they are paying for matriculation and the debt they are accruing. Without this information, it’s unlikely that students will be able to make savvy decisions regarding enrollment, major selection, persistence, and employment. Without knowledge of their financial circumstances, a student with a large sum of debt might be unprepared to compete for the jobs that would pay generously enough to allow them to repay their debt without having to enter an income-based repayment program.”

Unfortunately, student loan confusion doesn’t end with college. In large part, that’s because there a multitude of repayment options for college graduates. The Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website offers an overview of the eight repayment options for Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans. These include:

  • Standard repayment plan (fixed payments)
  • Graduated repayment plan (increasing payments)
  • Extended repayment plan (fixed payments over 25 years)
  • Income-based Repayment Plan (income-based repayment)
  • Income Contingent Repayment (income-based repayment)
  • Income Sensitive Repayment Plan (income-based repayment)
  • Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (income-based repayment)
  • Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (revised income-based repayment)

Of course, the choices available for repaying private student loans are different and vary by lender. In addition, marketplace and peer-to-peer lending platforms make it possible to refinance and consolidate student loan debt, sometimes at lower interest rates.

Tax implications may also play a role into loan repayment decisions. Interest paid on student loan debt may be tax deductible. Earlier this year, Forbes suggested it could reduce taxable income by as much as $2,500 for some Americans. However, this article cautioned monthly loan payments could limit the ability of many young Americans to save for financial goals like starting a business, buying a home, or retiring from work at a reasonable age.

A college degree is almost a necessity today. Pew Research Center has reported, “On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment – from personal earnings to job satisfaction…young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education.”

When a degree confers so many benefits, borrowing to pay for college appears to be a reasonable choice as long as students make sound repayment choices. In a world where so many repayment options are available, graduates may want to work with financial professionals to accurately determine which repayment programs may be the most beneficial. 

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Millennial Perspective: The Most Important Investment

Millennials, many of us are nearing the end of our 20s and we will all be 30 or older in a short five years. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to make time to invest in yourself as we enter this new era of our lives. There are plenty of ways to do this and I will list them shortly, but they all center around self-care. Self-care is not something that our generation is unfamiliar with, so it should be easy, right? Let’s find out.

First things first, remember to value your loved ones. This can be biological family or a family that you chose. Lean on them when you need to and listen to what they have to say about life and growing older. There is a chance that they have gone through similar experiences as you and they may be able to help guide you through them. After all, they have helped us get to this point, so if it’s working why change it?

Next, learn something new. Have you ever wanted to learn a new language or start making pottery? Do it! What is stopping you? There’s nothing better than exploring new things and learning new skills. Now is the time to take advantage of the things we either didn’t have time for before or were too afraid to try.

Make smarter money choices. This doesn’t mean that you can’t spend your money on things that you enjoy, like avocado toast and iced coffee. This just means you should start looking at getting serious about that 401(k) you hear HR talk about all the time and working on a budget. This can be a big task to tackle, so do not be afraid to seek professional help. This isn’t something that your friends and family can always help with because we are all in different financial situations. You need to find something that works specifically for you and seeking the advice of a fiduciary and/or CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ can help.

Go wardrobe shopping. This is my favorite one, of course. However, don’t get carried away, remember the last tip? I mean invest in functional pieces that still express who you are and will last for years to come. My rule of thumb for this is to make sure to buy things that can be worn in multiple settings. Can you wear this shirt to work and to brunch and still feel like yourself? If so, get it! I used to only buy “work clothes” and “casual clothes”, but I quickly ran out of space in my closet, and I found that I rarely got to wear my casual clothes because I worked most of the time. 

Declutter your space. This one ties into the last one for me, but I don’t just mean clothing. Sometimes we can accumulate so many things that we don’t even use, so why keep them around? If it still has a good use, just not a good use for you, donate it. It may be just the thing someone else has been looking for. Take some time at least every couple of years to go through your things and free up some space. This task can be very cathartic. 

Talk to someone if you need to. Millennials are probably the first generation that openly discuss and support mental health care. If life starts to feel like it is weighing on you, do not hold those feelings in and just hope that things get better, and don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Everyone struggles every now and then and it is okay to not be okay. Talk to someone. A mentor, a therapist, your best friend, it doesn’t matter as long as you are comfortable opening up around them.

Spend time with yourself. Some people love alone time and others can’t stand it, but a little alone time can go a long way. Sit down and read a good book, write in a journal, binge watch a series on Netflix in one weekend. If you are really daring, go see a movie by yourself or eat alone at a restaurant. Take this time to really find yourself. We can often get caught up in the day to day and lose ourselves. It is important to take some time to yourself to decompress occasionally.

Last, but certainly not least, do not be afraid to fail. The word failure has been stained with negative connotations, but sometimes it can be a great thing. Sometimes our failures help us learn something new and, often, better. It presents an opportunity to rise from the ashes and take flight. Learn to embrace your failures and grow from them. Also remember that you can’t compare yourself to others. We are all on our own journey and we may fail where others succeed, but that does not mean they haven’t failed before or that you will not succeed.

As you can see, self-care doesn’t always mean developing a good skin care regimen or getting a massage. Though those things are still important. The main point to take away from this is to really invest in yourself. Our time to grow and have fun doesn’t just stop when you turn 30. Life would be pretty miserable if that were the case. So, as much as we would all love to be a twenty-something forever, life carries on. Besides, I heard that 30 is the new 20.

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Primed and Ready to Spend

For the past year-and-a-half, scientists raced to develop effective COVID-19 vaccines and governments and companies worked to make vaccines available. Today, seven vaccines are approved in 176 countries. More than 2 billion doses have been administered, and about 14 percent of the world’s population has been vaccinated. It’s a remarkable achievement.

While there is a lot of work left to do, the Centers for Disease Control offered new and more lenient guidance for fully-vaccinated people in May, and restrictions across the country are being lifted. The result has been a surge in social activities we used to take for granted. According to the latest Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index:

“…Americans’ reemergence is moving full steam ahead. A majority have dined in a restaurant or visited friends and relatives in the past week – and these numbers continue to climb each week…At the same time, Americans are reporting small improvements to their mental and emotional health.”

One unexpected side effect of the pandemic is Americans spent less and saved more than normal. As a result, credit card balances are lower and personal finances have improved.

You know what they say about money burning a hole in your pocket.

Americans are ready to spend some of their savings. While some remain reluctant to venture far from home, others are ready to travel. The 2021 Summer Travel Index showed:

  • 63% of survey participants planned to take a trip in the next three months
  • 74% planned to travel in the United States
  • 13% will travel abroad
  • 29% have weekend jaunts planned 
  • 28% will be traveling for 10 or more days

People who aren’t ready to travel are spending, too. Morning Consult asked Americans what they were excited about doing as the economy reopens and found that 46% were ‘very excited’ to return to a ‘normal’ routine. The list of activities includes eating at a restaurant, socializing, attending parties or weddings, going to the movies, visiting amusement parks or museums, and attending concerts and sporting events.

While having extra money inspires many people to splurge, it’s important to keep a level head. Spending has risen sharply during 2021. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, spending increased:

  • 20.6% in January
  • 14.7% in February
  • 27.7% in March
  • 14.9% in April

While the idea of ‘revenge spending’ may be appealing, very few household budgets can withstand sustained increases in spending without significant increases in income. So, as you break free from pandemic restrictions, it may help to keep some basic principles in mind:

  1. Decide which savings habits you’d like to keep. During the pandemic, Americans saved a lot of money. The average household saved about $245 by not going out to eat, $1,400 by not vacationing, and almost $5,700 by not making major purchases, according to the Covid-19 & Finances Survey. Consider whether and how much to continue saving.
  2. Be aware of how much you are spending. When people have extra money saved, it’s just fine to splurge on something fun, especially after a long stretch of missing out on traditional everyday activities. Decide the amount to spend and then track how much has been spent. 
  3. Eliminate things that are not needed. During the last year, many people prioritized spending differently. Optional expenses, like dry cleaning, house cleaning, commuting, and happy hours, were eliminated. In some cases, the result was an increase in savings. Review your financial priorities to see if they have changed. 

Many people experienced financial insecurity during the pandemic lockdown. As a result, emergency savings accounts and other types of saving have become more important. If your financial priorities have shifted, be sure to talk to a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. Spending less and saving more may help you build wealth and improve financial security.

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The Millennial Perspective: The Struggle is Real

You know the feeling when you can never seem to get ahead in life? You feel like you are always a few steps behind and when you feel yourself catching up, it seems like something slowly pushes you back again? Sometimes that’s what it feels like to be a millennial in today’s economy. We are pushed to attend college to get a good job later in life, but is that the reality we find waiting for us once we’ve walked across that stage? 

The number of millennials who have graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree and continue struggle financially is larger than you may think. According to a survey conducted by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), only 35% of millennials feel that they make just enough to cover their expenses and 63% state they would have a difficult time paying an unexpected expense of $500. While only 6% of millennials feel that they make enough money to cover their expenses and have disposable income remaining. This indicates that a good chunk of millennials aren’t saving any money because they possibly cannot afford to for a number of reasons.

This struggle to get ahead of your finances leaves some millennials feeling as though college may not be worth it. Why spend tens of thousands of dollars receiving an education, only to be left with a job that not even be related to your degree and outrageous monthly student loan payments? In the past, having a bachelor’s degree, even if you weren’t working in your preferred field, meant you would make more money. This standard has begun to shift, in many cases, and a master’s degree is the new norm. So, another 2-3 years of school preventing you from working, another tens of thousands of dollars for another degree and you still have no guarantee that you will work in the field you have studied or that you will make a decent wage. Seems pretty unmotivating, don’t you think?

So, does this mean that not going to college and immediately jumping into the workforce is better? This, of course, depends on the type of work you are pursuing. There are a number of jobs that do not require a degree that pay well and allow you to live comfortably. However, at the same time, there are plenty that do not. This means that even if you don’t go to college, you still run the risk of struggling financially even without a student loan payment depending on the types of jobs available in your area.

Of course, nothing in life is guaranteed, and we know this. Though, sometimes, it feels like the odds are never in our favor when it comes to finances and getting started in life when compared to the generations before us. I have no doubts that Generation Z, Gen Z for short, will experience similar or worse issues. All we can do is work towards changing this standard and hoping for the best for our children and so on.

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Millennial Perspective: Walking the Tightrope of Life

Do you ever feel like you are teetering too close to one side when trying to balance your life? For many millennials, this may include work, family, social life, and school. It can be a lot to handle sometimes. So, what can we do to help ourselves get balanced? Well, there are a lot of things to consider and to try. The process of finding balance may include a lot of trial and error. However, when you find the right match, it will have been worth it.

Planning the activities in your life may be the most common way to balance life. When it is all on paper, or on a virtual calendar, you can see the balance more clearly. Let’s say you have to work from 8 am – 5 pm every Monday through Friday. Pencil that in your calendar, long term. Now you can work around it and add family time, social time, or school, whatever is relevant to you. Remember, just because you have empty spaces around that set block, does not mean it has to be filled with something. Prioritize your time in a way that allows you to get through your to-do list and makes you happy and comfortable. Be sure to leave yourself some down time too because we all need to take a breather occasionally. Don’t forget that life has a tendency to take an unexpected turn. In this case, you may need to move things around, but this way you can look at your calendar and make time for everything in advance with a little less stress.

Boundaries can also be helpful when trying to balance life. It can be rather difficult for some people to “unplug” these days, especially with the growing number of work-from-home jobs. When you are working at home it feels strange to take a day off or even just clock out at closing time. Some people even have this struggle in a traditional office setting. This is where your boundaries come into play. You must draw that line of when you stop working and pick up the next part of the day, which for many is family time. This can also be flipped. Many people may run into their family life interfering with your work life. For example, when I was a little girl, I would walk home from school, and I would often call my mom as soon as I walked in the door. I would tell her that I made it home okay, but being the chatty person I am, I would usually carry on a conversation for several minutes. This is where I crossed the boundary into my mom’s work life and brought her family time to her job. My mom is a very kind woman and, of course, never told me to stop calling. However, as an adult that now works full time, I understand how that could have been frustrating at times.

It is okay to tell people “No” sometimes. You cannot make everyone happy. Learning to say no gives you the power to manage your life in a way that works best for you. If you are planning to work on schoolwork, but your friends asked you to go out for the night, say no. You can meet up with them at a time that is better for you. If you are in the middle of something and a co-worker asks you a small favor, say no. Even if feels uncomfortable to say at times, it is okay. Once you give “no” a chance, it will feel more natural over time, and it can be key for reducing stress and balancing life. It also means that when you say “yes,” it will hold more power!

Remember that there will always be something to do as long as life goes on. So, next time you feel yourself getting off-balance, try some of these methods. We, fortunately, get to dictate our own lives, so why not make it a little easier on ourselves? No matter what strategy works for you, finding that balance can lead to less stress and a better quality of life. 

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Millennial Perspective: Steps to Protect Your Financial Health

Way, way back at the beginning of the Common Era, Epictetus offered some advice that remains relevant today:

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

In 2020, a lot changed – and Millennials are reacting. We’re adapting to pandemic conditions, hoping for economic improvement, positioning for financial market uncertainty, and coping with a lot of stress from the unknown. 

One way to address stress is to take positive action by conducting a year-end review of your financial plan. That may not sound like it will reduce your stress but taking control of something you can control may really help. You’ll be able to start the next year with confidence, knowing exactly what you need to do to protect your financial health today and tomorrow. 

These three steps can help you get started

1. Assess your work and income situation

Coronavirus has rapidly changed the business landscape. Some companies are at a standstill while others are busier than ever. Last year, Gartner Research reported:

“Dramatic changes in customer demand are putting organizations under huge stress: Sharp declines in demand present serious financial challenges to many businesses, while those facing demand surges and resource shortage risk disappointing and disengaging customers.”

Think about your industry and your company. Will coronavirus have a short- or longer-term impact? How could your income be affected? If it could be affected, are there steps you need take to reduce income risk? What are they?

2. Review your spending and expenses

There is never a bad time to review spending and expenses. This allows you to make sure your spending plan is working for you and is ready for the future. If your income will be significantly different in the near future, your spending plan may change. 

Typically, a spending plan keeps spending and saving aligned with income. If your income will be lower in the future, you may need to reduce the amount you spend and save. If your income increases, you may be able to increase the amount you spend and save. 

If you cannot find a way to align income and spending, talking to a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ may be a helpful option. They should be able to review your spending and expenses from a professional standpoint to help you set the best course of action.

3. Evaluate your financial plans

It’s important to review your current financial plan to see whether and how progress toward your financial goals will be affected by changes in spending and saving. Sometimes, looking at current spending and saving decisions through the lens of your financial goals can help you decide how to modify your plans. 

For instance, when income falls, some people choose to save less, knowing it will push their financial goals further into the future. Others decide to spend less so they stay on track to reach their goals. Often, people decide on a combination of reduced spending and reduced saving. The choices you make will depend on your circumstances. 

2020, and 2021 so far, have been years for the record books, often in unwelcome ways. The way you react to what has happened may significantly affect your financial health and well-being over the short-term and your ability to reach your financial goals over the long-term. Do not be afraid to seek help from a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to better understand what your financial health looks like.

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The Millennial Perspective: Financial Literacy

As I get older and the more I work in finance, I find that many younger clients around my age are in the dark on many practices and basics of money management, such as investing, creating a budget that works specifically for them, and saving money. This all boils down to a concern about the education we may or may not have received about financial literacy in our school days. This also brings up the concern for the generations that will follow us and the advice they are receiving around this subject. 

Without this knowledge of how money works in the real world and how it should be managed can set a lot of people up for failure. There are plenty of programs available to purchase that will teach you different ways to pay off your debts and manage your money. However, those programs can be expensive and are often sought after when it is too late. Currently in the United States, only 17 states require financial literacy courses in their curriculums. While Oklahoma happens to be one the states that requires this course, depending on who may teach the course and what their background in finance may be, the information may not be conveyed in a manner that is thorough and engaging. 

These are the kinds of courses that need to be taught by someone with experience in economics and finance with a curriculum that is designed to allow students to make their own choices based on real life situations. They need to be able to get a glimpse of what real money management and decisions are like, so that they can learn from the lessons and apply it later in life. For example, my senior year of high school, my school offered its first ever “Financial Literacy” course. The course was 16 weeks long, was considered an elective and was not required, and was taught by the World History teacher. He did not have any kind of professional financial background and the most I learned in that class was how to write a check and that 10% of what we make is ours to keep. We did not learn about the importance of saving money, we did not learn about the stock market or how to invest, we did not learn about retirement, and the list goes on. The thing is, I already knew how to write a check because that was still a fairly common practice at the time. Also, telling a room full of teenagers that 10% of what we make is ours to keep without any kind of real context or any kind of knowledge about building a budget that works for us is dangerous word play, especially in today’s economic state.

I cannot speak for every student in that class or in the classes that followed, but I can tell you that I definitely gained a confidence in that class and just knew that I had it all figured out. Well, I did not, and it is something that I have struggled with for all of my adult life. Who is to say that if I had a better, more qualified, teacher or if I had learned lessons that would really benefit me in the real world that my situation would have turned out differently? This is something we will never know, but it doesn’t negate the fact that these lessons are a cornerstone and should be handled as such. These are the types of lessons that should not come at a cost to anyone, especially at a point in life when the cost could break you. These lessons should also not be solely placed on the parents to teach. In a lot of cases the parents are also not professionals and while they might have some great advice, they may not be able to paint the bigger picture outside of their own personal experience. 

Of course, the wise thing to do for those in my generation that did not receive the ideal financial education, is to seek the advice of a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ who is also a fiduciary. A lot of times, these professionals will offer complimentary consultations to help you get on the right page to managing your money in a way that is designed for you and your specific needs. This can be far more beneficial that buying into a cookie cutter, for-profit program that may or may not work in the end.

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Millennial Perspective: Planting Roots in a Pandemic

As a millennial, buying a home is already hard enough. Trying to save up enough money for an average 6% down payment, trying to determine how much home we can afford, trying to find the time to house hunt, and battling debt to income ratio. Now we are dealing with a seller’s market with some of the lowest interest rates we have seen in years and a pandemic. Many of my fellow millennials are trying to take advantage of these low rates, but it has been a bumpy ride for a lot of us. Throughout this article I will recount my personal experience buying a home as well as the experiences of others in my generation in the past year.

Let us rewind to March of 2020. I know, this is not the best month that we have all had, but it was certainly looking like it was going to be for my husband and me. We had found a home that we both loved at a price point that was perfect in a buyer’s market and we were prepared to take this giant step towards this milestone. We settled on an offer with the seller, signed a contract, and we were on our way. Then the pandemic hit. 

Our situation completely changed. We were no longer in a place where we could get the home. Thankfully, our sellers, lender, and realtor worked with us and we were able to essentially pause the whole process. It was only supposed to be two weeks, right? Then two weeks turned into a month, then two months, and so on. When we finally got back to a place where we could proceed, my husband and I ultimately decided that the time was not right and we needed to wait until COVID-19 blew over, so we ended our contract. 

Ending our contract and losing the opportunity turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we also decided to move closer to family. Not being able to see anyone and not knowing if we may ever see them again due to a deadly virus makes you think about where your heart is meant to be. We packed everything up a few months later, moved across the state, and devised our new plan. We would rent for another year and look at plans to build our dream starter home the following summer. Then the market flipped, and construction costs rose nearly 130%! It was back to the drawing board for us. 

The small community we are now living in is growing and many houses on the market are new construction. Since this was no longer a viable option for us, we would need to find a completed home, but any homes that were listed were typically off the market within 24 hours, were pocket listings, or they entered bidding wars which drove the price up tens of thousands of dollars. This made our search a little tricky. Thankfully, an opportunity to buy a perfect home fell into our laps. We are now back on track to buying our first home. It feels that we got lucky.

I have seen many of my friends post on social media or reach out with the news that they have also found a home. It is great news, and it makes me happy to see so many people in my generation finally able to reach this milestone. I have discussed experiences with several of them and their stories sound very familiar. They spent countless hours searching for homes on sites like Zillow and Realtor.com with little luck. When a home is found and an appointment is secured to view it, it is off the market. You do not get a lot of time to think about the investment you are about to make and practically must sign an offer within hours of viewing the home. The whole task can be very daunting compared to last year’s market. However, with today’s low rates it is something that we simply cannot pass up.

All this to say, hang in there millennials. The timing for buying a house is perfectly imperfect right now. Do not get yourself down if a home falls through. It just means that something better is waiting for you around the corner. Buying a house is a huge step and you do not want to get roped into something that you will regret. Keep searching and the right opportunity will come to you!

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The Millennial Perspective: Climbing Everest

Do you ever feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Do you wonder how much of that weight may be lifted without the stress of growing debt? Me too! I’ve always said, “We live in America so we will always carry debt. That’s just the way it is.” But should it be? It doesn’t feel like the mindset I or anyone should have when looking at our lives. A vast majority of our country has some sort of debt. With all of the factors of life that affect Millennials differently than other generations, this can feel especially defeating.

If you combine the average student loan debt, credit card debt, mortgage debt, and car loan debt among millennials you’re looking at about $285,000 total. That’s a big, and kind of scary number. This isn’t to say that every millennial has debt in each of these categories. So, let’s break that number down. On average, millennials have about $30,000 in student loan debt, $5,000 of credit card debt, $232,000 in mortgage debt, and $18,000 of car loan debt. 

Let’s imagine you have debt in each of these categories. If you had a car loan with a balance of $2,000 with a low interest rate, the average amount of student loans, a credit card balance of $7,000 with a high interest rate, and you just bought a new home. Which of these debts would you want to pay down the fastest? Your first thought may be to pay the credit card off first because it has the highest interest. However, let’s imagine you have enough in your bank account to pay off your car immediately. Even though it has a lower interest rate, you are most likely paying more each month on your car payment versus your credit card payment. One of the best ways to handle this situation is to pay off the car and rather than adding the additional money you now have each month to your cash flow, stick to your budget and stack the extra funds on top of what you are already paying on your credit cards. Now you have eliminated one debt and you will be paying more on your principal balance of your credit cards and will be able to eliminate that debt much faster than you would have originally.

If you can continue to stack your debt, AKA snowball your debt, then you may find that a mountain that once felt like an endless Mount Everest now feels more manageable. Setting a plan to help you start that exhibition and properly manage your money is the key to success. There’s no need to change your entire budget and live off Ramen until your debts are paid. This is just one of the philosophies when it comes to paying off debt. Several others exist, but the important thing is to pick a plan and go. 

Living slightly below your means is a good way to pay off debts, but living very far below your means just because of debt may tarnish your quality of life and your relationship with money. Money is a means to an end, not the end all, be all. It is always wise to seek the advice of professionals, such as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to help you create a plan that works for you and ensures you maintain your quality of life. You don’t have to be uncomfortable to be comfortable. 

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