If you look around all over the news and internet it’s gloom and doom for millennials when it comes to money.
There are all sorts of articles about how millennials are drowning in debt, dealing with a poor economy, battling against older workers who aren’t retiring and fighting against outrageous real estate prices.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Even though this generation is facing a unique set of problems, we also have a unique set of opportunities that our parents and grandparents didn’t have. We’re living in the information age.
We have access to a vast expanse of opportunity.
All we have to do is choose it.
Here are 6 ways that we can choose financial freedom despite the obstacles in our path.
1. Stop Complaining, Start Planning
Yes, things are tough right now and the economy isn’t exactly like it was 30 years ago. But it’s really not as bad as it seems.
See, I’m a millennial too. And despite the challenges that we face, there’s something that people aren’t talking about.
And that’s the fact that we’re currently living in a time where there has never been more opportunity for you to reach your dreams.
Seriously. We live in a world with this incredible thing called the internet that allows us to intake insane amounts of knowledge for free.
You can learn anything. Go anywhere. And try anything you want to.
You’ve just got to try.
Because here’s the rub, complaining won’t get you anywhere.
Planning will and trying will.
But complaining won’t.
I know you’ve got debt, I know your job doesn’t pay enough, and I know you can’t afford a home.
But in the entire history of the planet nobody has ever had a low-paying job, complained about it, and then got a higher paying job the next day.
It just doesn’t happen.
What does happen is someone isn’t satisfied with their low paying job and so they work to educate themselves, out-work other people at their job or find a new job in order to change their situation. These people made a plan and then executed.
They didn’t just complain.
Complaining won’t get you anywhere. If you want financial freedom, you’re going to have to plan for it and then go for it.
2. Think About Your Spending
One of the biggest downsides to the information age is the constant influx of new advertising.
We’re bombarded with 150 ads per day that are all trying to persuade us to spend our hard-earned cash. It’s more important today than ever that we pay close attention to our spending and really think about where our money goes.
Because millennials do face a lot of student debt it’s extremely important to clearly define what you want with the limited amount of money that you have.
You need to have control over your money instead of your money having control over you.
Always ask yourself whether or not you really want something, often times deep down, you don’t.
3. Millennials Should Start Investing As Early As Possible
There’s always a positive to every negative.
Although millennials don’t have access to the same pension programs that our parents and grandparents had, we do have something they didn’t.
And that’s direct access to investing for ourselves.
It’s now easier than ever to get started investing on your own directly with brokerages like Vanguard and Fidelity. And with newer companies like Wealthfront, it’s becoming even easier for young people to get started investing in safer ways that help them build for retirement over the long term.
On top of access to brokerage firms, we also have access to a wealth of information just by using Google. You can learn anything you would ever want to know for free from the internet and it’s all at the tips of your fingers.
The thing is, retiring early and comfortably isn’t really all that hard if you start early.
If a 25-year-old starts saving $300 per month, at 8% interest, they’ll be a millionaire when they’re retiring at 65 years old. And that’s never ever saving more than $300 per month.
For $10 per day.
That’s all it takes.
But the problem is, many of us just don’t do it. We get caught up in the next thing. College, marriage, travel, kids, house, dog, cars, and vacations. There are so many other things that require our money sooner.
So we put it off.
But if you want to choose financial freedom, and if you want to live a rich life, you’ll choose to start investing now.
4. Kill Your Debt As Fast As Possible
Obviously, debt keeps you from building wealth and saving more money. But more often than not, the amount of emotional and psychological weight that debt brings weighs on us more than the physical barriers.
Getting rid of that student loan, car payment, or credit card debt is so freeing. There’s something about not having that hanging debt over your head that feels like a breath of fresh air.
Even though the amount of debt you may have can feel crushing, there’s no reason to give up hope.
There are so many stories of millennials fighting their way out of student loan debt and back on top of their own finances. Just check out Michelle’s story of paying off $38,000 worth of student loans in just seven months! She worked her tail off to bring in money from her day job and income from a side business.
It’s a lot of work, but it can be done.
Like everything else in life, it comes down to asking yourself how bad do you want it.
If you really want to become financially free, focusing on eliminating your debt is the quickest way to get there.
5. Be Skeptical of Conventional Wisdom
Just like the economy is different for millennials, the rest of the world is also different.
This means that some of the decisions that were wise for our parents to make aren’t necessarily always the wisest for us.
We need to develop a healthy amount of skepticism when the only reasoning is that it’s “conventional wisdom” or “well we’ve always done it that way.”
Just take a look at the housing market for example.
Conventional wisdom tells us that it’s almost always in our best interest to buy a home instead of renting. But over the course of the last few years, we’ve seen a ton of people get burned by that philosophy.
In fact, depending on where you live in the country, it could actually be a better financial decision to just rent.
Take a look at this EPIC monster post from Paula Pant. She does an incredible job of breaking down the rent vs. buying debate.
The ultimate take away from her article between buying and renting is that it all depends. But what I want you to take away is that conventional wisdom about home ownership is wrong and the idea that renting is always throwing away money is incorrect.
And that’s just one example.
But seriously, question the status quo and question what people tell you to do just because that’s how people have always done it.
The world is constantly changing and often times our strategies need to change with it.
6. Millennials Need to Set Goals
One of the biggest problems with our generation is that the majority of us don’t even know what we want.
And that’s okay sometimes. But it costs us a whole lot of time and money by wasting it wandering around at expensive colleges trying to figure it out.
I’m not saying that you need to know today exactly what you plan to do with the rest of your life and what every day will look like until the day you die.
But you do need to have some goals.
Millennials need to learn to start thinking a little more long-term and really define what sorts of things they want to do in their life.
If that’s traveling, cool.
If it’s having a big family and being involved in the local community, awesome.
It might just be maintaining close relationships with family and friends.
Whatever it is, it’s super important to define it. Whether you like it or not money is going to be something you have to deal with for the rest of your life. It is a tool that all of us need to use.
And if you want to have the best possible shot at actually accomplishing all of those dreams and goals, you’re going to have to make some good decisions with your money.
That all starts with setting goals.
If you want to choose financial freedom, you’ve got to start with first defining what financial freedom means to you. Then you can start setting goals to reach it.
So what does financial freedom mean to you? Let me know in the comments below, and tell me one way that you’re choosing to become financially free.