Making My Way as a Millennial: Part 2
This is Part Two of a two-part series documenting my journey as a millennial! To read Part One, please click here.
Join me as I continue to Make My Way as a Millennial!
Goal 2: Find the right job.
I always dreamed that one day I would change the world; however, given my inability to fly like Superman or capture one of the “bad guys” in a tightly knit spider web, I knew my ability to “change the world” would be a bit different from my childhood imaginations.
As an entry-level prospective employee, could I really make a difference? Eventually – yes; however, looming college loans on top of everyday bills put the emphasis on getting a paycheck. Changing the world can wait.
But is a paycheck all that matters? Or does the culture and values of the organization take precedence? To figure this out I asked myself the following question:
Consider receiving two job offers: The first is a $40,000 (starting salary) position in a company with strong values, social responsibility, and growth opportunities. The second is a $60,000 job you found mundane in a company with a vision locked only on profits. Which would you choose?
Many would think that this would be an easy decision, “show me the money”; however, I came to the conclusion that for me, finding the right job is not just about the salary. What characteristics was I looking for in my first “real world” job?
- Social Responsibility
- Growth Opportunities (and a culture that supports personal/professional growth)
- Work Life Balance & Flexibility
- Mentoring Programs
My Conclusion: Finding meaning in my work is more important than finding money.
Goal 3: Have a strong financial foundation.
Millennials have a reputation of having a weakness when it comes to financial literacy; however, I like to think that I, as with many others, fall outside the stereotype. Can I explain fiscal policy off the top of my head? – No, but when it comes to personal money management, I value having a working knowledge of finance.
Life has been a winding journey, post-graduation; however, I found that a core foundation of financial lessons has applied throughout:
1. Building credit is not always easy for millennials. When I was an undergraduate student, credit card companies were giving credit cards away without any prior credit history; however, I witnessed the change when my brother, a millennial as well, attempted to apply for his 1st credit card. The rejections kept coming from credit card companies. The reason? He did not have an established credit history. How is one to build a credit history if no one will give them the opportunity?
This is where our local credit union came to the rescue! Immediately they understood my brother’s concerns and presented him with a “credit builder” program in which he would take out a small $500 loan and make scheduled payments. In doing so, he would start to build credit and after six months, was approved for a credit card!
2. Only use plastic if you have the funds in an account to pay off the bill in full was my number one rule in utilizing a credit card. Carrying a credit card was much easier than cash and the rewards programs were a bonus; however, I never spent more than I had. If you utilize your credit card like cash, you will not run into high finances charges.
3. Pay your bill on time! Late fees add up and can hurt your credit score.
Credit Score. How important is paying attention to your credit score? – very. It takes a long time to build credit but any hiccup can become problematic.
At first, I thought of a credit score as just a number; however, when I came to the point in my life when I was ready to take out an auto loan and buy a home, I realized some of the benefits of maintaining good credit. The correlation between credit score and interest rates would save me thousands over the lifetime of the loans.
Budgeting. Maintaining a budget will:
1. Assist you in keeping track of your bills, income, and monthly expenditures.
2. Give you an overall view of your spending habits. If you find your finances being squeezed, your budget can act as a guide to cutting costs.
3. Show you funds you have in excess of your spending – funds in which you may consider moving to a savings account.
Retirement Planning. Yes, it would seem as if retirement is eons away, and for most of us, it is; however, at some point in your life you will want to retire. Setting the foundation for a retirement plan is vital in ensuring you will be able to do so and live comfortably. Understanding your planning options offered by your employer or through a personal IRA, is an important first step for any millennial.
My financial journey as a millennial is sure to have bends and forks in the road; however, setting the foundation for financial literacy will help guide the way. Will I know everything? – No. However, knowing where to go to learn is just as important and, for me, that place is my credit union.
There are many preconceived notions about Gen-Y and, yes, many may prove true; however, your journey will not be defined by generalizations but the decisions you make. As I am, you too will make your own way as a millennial.
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Written By: Amanda Keefe