I'm writing a series of posts about financial advice specific to younger people. So, in other words, this isn't your momma's financial advice. Mainly because so much has changed. There are tons of good common-financial-sense posts out there: stay out of debt, budget religiously—some of which I've written—and those are worth heeding in any decade.
But I want to share some observations and advice more specific to the younger generation, gleaned from personal experience.
1. We are in debt at the starting line.
Chances are, you have some debt if you’re in college or just graduating. Education costs are the highest they’ve ever been, and this means that at the ‘starting line’ of your adult life—presumably after college—you’re likely already in debt. This wasn't the case 20 or 30 years ago.
2. The "education creep" is real.
Education inflation is a real thing. So many careers now require a master’s degree just to gain entry—especially licensure fields. So what do we do?
1. Don't over-borrow
Don’t take out more student loans than you need, even if it seems like a good idea at the time.
This means we have to pay special care to diligent budgeting (that's where you mother's advice does come in, but with new tech tools). And we have to work extra hard to pay off that debt—clear the slate—so we can save for the retirement, afford the lifestyle we aspire to, and achieve our life goals.
2. Don't stress too much about student debt
So knowing that student loan debt is almost unavoidable for many careers, plan accordingly and make your peace with it. (Notice I didn’t say settle into it. Very different.) Just be aware that haphazard spending habits are likely to dig us a deeper hole, personally and as a generation.
3. But always prioritize getting out of debt
Chipping away at that debt should be the first financial Everest for our generation – so that we can start saving for retirement early and making smart investments. But those two are for another time. For now, I have to go make a financial plan to make grad school possible.
A good start is the free courses offered on this site and your credit union. Check with your credit union to see what resources they offer to help you achieve your goals.
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