The Smart Millennial's Approach to Pay off Debt, Save Money, and Invest like a Champ

Female hands get money from a purse

One of the most liberating feeling is knowing you have your finances in control. I know this from personal experience. We've all come across a point in time where we've either been in debt, wasn't saving enough, or didn't take the initiative to invest wisely. We now have access to online tools that the previous generation didn't have.

While they were doing monthly reconciliation by paper and pen, we have automated tools to do this legwork. There has always been this argument on whether you should pay off debt or invest first. The theory is that you could make more money investing than the total amount of interest you'd pay on your debt. However, paying off debt can actually help you learn more about your spending pattern which in return can help you save money faster and invest more down the road.%

Paying Off Debt – The Smart Way

There are many ways to pay off debt: pay off high interest rate accounts first, balance transfer credit cards, consolidate debt through a personal loan, credit counseling, and even debt settlement. Some of these methods are less optimal than others given that it may affect your credit score. So how do you figure out the best way to approach this? If you have a steady job but can afford to pay extra principal every month towards your debt, try this first.

There's no need to look for "alternative debt reduction programs" at this point. Millennial's have become obsessed with their credit scores (which isn't necessarily a bad thing) and are finally realizing the importance of their credit score. Ideally, you'll want to try to avoid credit counseling or debt settlement program unless it's your last resort.

These type of programs will leave a negative remark on your report and may hinder you from getting financing in the future. It may seem like the best way since it represents the most amount of savings, but it still might not be worth it. The best way to pay off debt is to take a close hard look at your monthly expenditures and see where you're wasting money. It's not a fun task, but it's required.

Saving Money – Cut Costs, But Don't Lose the Fun

Saving money to fund your dream vacation or a home is a marathon, not a sprint. It's amazing at how many people try to cut costs at every corner just to save money. At the end of the day, it doesn't do you any good to live a sheltered life that prohibits you from having a little fun. This is where people can break and splurge on things they shouldn't.

Sometimes we all just need to hit the reset button in life. Whether it's traveling, going out with friends, or treating yourself to a relaxing massage, we shouldn't be bound to cutting out the finer things in life. There are a lot of ways to save money and build wealth without having to give up your social life. For example, going on a vacation doesn't mean you have to spend an arm and a leg.

It's a matter of doing your diligence to find ways to cut costs in every category: transportation, food, airfare, lodging, or activities. Your vacations can be a weekend trip that doesn't require airfare, and your accommodation can be as little as $100/night if you find a nice AirBnb. The possibilities are endless.

Investing Money – Apps that make it Simple

For most people, the thought of investing seems scary- especially since the financial fallouts in the 90's and 2008. Technology has changed the way we invest, making it simpler and leveling the playing field. A recent study by CNN shows that 93% of the people don't invest because of their distrust with the market and lack of knowledge.

So how do you, as a millennial, get started in investing? For starters, you can try out a new app called Acorn. The app works by investing your spare change from your everyday purchase into ETFs. It's a fairly low risk investment given that you don't have to deposit upfront money into a brokerage account.

If you're ready to invest in the market by picking and choosing your own stocks, the next step is to pick the right type of brokerage account to open up. You can follow the old adage of, "don't put all your eggs in one basket" as a good first step.

Try to diversify your funds through different sectors. Investing in the stock market isn't intended to hit a grand slam in the first months. It takes years to build up your portfolio- so don't be afraid if you're seeing some losses in your investments.

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