12 Millennial-Inspired Ways to Spend Less
By Kimberly Palmer | U.S.News & World Report | April 8, 2015
Big savings, small budgets.
Millennials might be young, but many of these 19 to 34 year olds are savvy with their money. That's partly because they came of age during the Great Recession and learned firsthand how important it is to save money for rainy days. Inspired by technology and a willingness to experiment, they're embracing some quirky methods for saving, too. Here are 12 habits of money-smart millennials that anyone can adopt:
Use coupons all the time.
Whether it's for nails or furniture, financial planner Dominique Broadway says she often saves 25 percent or more by looking around for discounts. She takes advantage of Groupon and LivingSocial deals as well as online discounts and cash-back programs like Ebates.
Share your budget with friends.
When Broadway is cutting back on her restaurant spending, she lets her friends know. That way, if they invite her to go out and she declines because of cost, they know she's being money-conscious, not rude. "I've never heard anyone say, 'You're being cheap,'" she says. Her friends often find cheaper or free activities to do together instead.
Save for retirement (even when budgets are pinched).
A survey of 867 millennials released in February by The Principal Financial Group found that 63 percent said they started saving before age 35, even though for many of them, their savings rate was under 10 percent. Still, thanks to the power of compounding, getting in the habit of saving early goes a long way toward building a comfortable retirement nest egg.
Put any windfalls into savings.
A 2015 National Retail Federation Tax Return Survey of 6,186 respondents found that 53 percent of millennials plan to put their tax refunds directly into savings and just 15 percent planned to splurge on a big purchase with the money. (Across all generations, just 47 percent of respondents said they would save their tax refund.)
A little optimism can go a long way toward preventing frustration and despair when it comes to your financial future. Millennials excel at this trait: A recent Bank of America/USA Today survey of over 1,000 millennials found that 2 in 3 millennials believe they have good financial habits, and 80 percent said they think they'll be better off than their parents.
Don't feel badly about a little splurging.
After hosting yard sales to sell their old books and clothes, "Brokenomics" author Dina Gachman and her friends often go out to brunch afterward to celebrate. "You have to enjoy your life. Maybe you made $100, and you spend $30 -- that's OK," she says.
Use apps to manage money.
New budgeting apps seem to hit the market weekly, and they're especially popular among millennials who aren't afraid to rely on their phones to keep track of their finances. Moven, Prism and Level Money are among the options. They make it easy to check in on your budget even when you're out and about.
Do your own research.
Millennials are used to hitting the Web every time they want a question answered, and it's no different with retirement and investment questions. An outpouring of apps and online tools, from SigFig to LearnVest, make it easy to learn how to invest without paying big bucks for the private services of an investment advisor.
Ask for help when you need it.
While millennials aren't yet flocking to financial advisors in large numbers, they are likely to turn to their parents when they need money help. A 2014 Fidelity survey found that 3 in 4 millennials say they wouldn't hesitate to talk money with their parents. They tend to trust their parents and report that they like asking them for advice on everything from saving to retirement.
Avoid credit card debt.
Many millennials were forced to learn quickly about the perils of carrying debt, thanks to their hefty student loans. As a result, many 20-somethings are scared to take on credit card debt of any kind, so they avoid it at all costs. Since credit card debt tends to be the most expensive kind of debt, with interest rates averaging 16 percent for variable rate cards, paying off the balance each month is a smart move.
Embrace DIY projects.
Instead of buying expensive household cleaners, party decorations or even furniture, many millennials have jumped on the DIY trend, spurred by websites like Pinterest, to make their own products. Plenty of templates, directions and recipes are available online for free.
Move in with family.
Millennials aren't labeled the boomerang generation for nothing; many of them move back into their parents' homes after college as they try to find their financial footing. Doing so can help them save significant chunks of cash while getting the rest of their lives in shape for adulthood. Members of older generations who find themselves in a financial pinch can look for similar cohabitation opportunities with relatives.