As much as I loved my education, there are some classes I wish I could have had in place of calculus and meteorology (hello, college general education). Instead, I would have much preferred a course that taught me how to do taxes, buy a house, develop good credit, and save for retirement. Fortunately, none of us have to go back to school to learn all of that.

That's where real life experiences--and, of course, Matt Murawski comes in. A financial planner from Goodstein Wealth, he says it doesn't take much to get comfortable with the basics.

"The biggest mistake I see millennials making is very simple: they think that this time is different than the previous fifty, sixty, or seventy years. Of all the traditional basic financial advice, they think it doesn't apply to them because they're a new generation."

Turns out, the same rules still apply and they're actually really easy to follow.

1. Have an Emergency Fund

A lot of people are living paycheck to paycheck, which is a normal thing, especially when pairing an entry level job with an expensive city lifestyle. Aim to have at least 3-6 months of cash saved up, which you can calculate simply by reviewing your average must-have expenses. Remember, rent and food are needs but luxury items are wants. Now, where should you keep this emergency fund?

2. Create a Money Market Savings Account

Did you know that keeping your money in a traditional bank savings account is one of the most ineffective ways to earn interest? Rates are usually around .25% but if you opt for a money market savings account, you could be earning anywhere between 1-2%. The deposit minimum is usually higher but the return is so worth it. Putting your savings money here is a safe way to maintain liquid cash. Plus, holding it in a separate account will ensure that you don't accidentally pull from it when you go on a shopping spree.

3. Stay in Your Lane

It's so easy to watch other people buying a home, owning a luxury car, or whatever else you want but can't quite yet attain. Instead of playing the comparison game against those who might just be showing off on social media, Murawski says to just focus on your goals and what makes sense for yourself.

"You never know what other people's financial situations are. Operate on what you can afford after your emergency account."

4. Don't Forget About Those Retirement Accounts

When daily expenses and savings accounts are already taking up a lot of your financial flow, thinking about another account for retirement can seem way too overwhelming. Putting just a little bit into a 401k or ROTH IRA account will pay off in the long run, especially if you're with a company that can match you. Plus, who can argue with tax free money? The most important thing Murawski notes is this:

"Time is the biggest predictor of developing wealth. It's not about making $400,000 a year, it's about getting started. Pay yourself first."

5. Develop a Financial Habit

People are usually afraid to start or invest into their retirement because of the early withdrawal penalties, but don't have that be the driving factor of why you won't do it. The point is that you are creating different buckets of money in any given scenario and preparing yourself for any financial situation. Murawski's last piece of advice is this:

"When you have an account that's a house fund, then you're working towards a goal. It changes the whole psychology of what you're doing and will help you stay motivated and driven. It helps with no having a crazy mentality of not knowing what you can and can't afford."

Published on: Sep 21, 2017
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