I am sitting in a Tim Horton’s as I begin to write this post and overhear three elderly gentlemen having a normal conversation when one of them says, “If we had been putting money into a 401(k) when we were 21, man I would be living the high life.”
By now you know I am passionate millennial who wants to empower his generation to be the change we need in this world. In some ways, we can only be as empowering as our bank accounts because, despite what we would like to think, money makes the world go round.
One of my top priorities in life is being financially independent and stable. Of course, that has meant plenty of sacrifices.
You may have noticed based on the tax plan that Congress passed at the end of last year that you have a good chunk of change more in your paycheck. My advice to my millennial counterparts out there is to do something smart with it.
First, I urge everyone to use the new IRS Calculator to make sure you will be withholding enough to prevent having a tax bill next year.
Next is identifying your top financial needs and designating this extra income where you need it the most.
- Do you have massive student loan debt? Add the extra income to your monthly payment.
- Do you not have a retirement account? Try kickstarting a plan by making that extra income your monthly contribution.
- Are you going to try and buy a house soon, or do you know you’ll be needing a new car soon? Try putting aside that extra income for a larger down payment.
- Have credit card debt? Why not use this as a way to pay it off (and then make sure you are able to pay off your credit card in full every month).
- Don’t have an emergency fund? Why not start one by making the new addition to your paycheck your monthly contribution.
Whatever your needs are – preparing for the future or getting out of the debt from your past, you have the present moment to act now and get yourself on a better, more stable financial path. The best part is that you weren’t used to having this money immediately so it won’t feel as though you are losing out on anything. When you notice you’ve paid debt off sooner than you expected, you have more to put down on a house, or your Roth IRA has an extra contribution, you’ll be thanking yourself for investing in your future.
It is so easy to look at that extra boost in your paycheck and want to go treat yourself. Honestly, you deserve to treat yourself but think of ways to treat yourself in the long-term I know you won’t regret it.
Before my three new friends left, one of the men turned to me and asked me to take a picture of them. It made me think when I get to the point of looking back on my life in a coffee shop talking to my friends about the good old days, I want to do so with the ability to be living comfortably. I don’t want to worry about having to make ends meet in my glory years. So to get there I know it means taking action now, in my 20s. I hope you’ll join me in investing in our collective futures to ensure we can live our best possible lives.