Graduating? 5 tips from a millennial on taking control of your debt
Published Monday, May 22, 2017 12:00PM EDT
High financial expectations coupled with harsh employment realities have left recent post-secondary graduates feeling a little anxious and overwhelmed.
According to TD, the competitive job market, lower than anticipated income and higher than expected costs are just some of the realities facing post-secondary graduates.
The pressures mount as graduates struggle to become financially independent, look to live on their own and pay back that outstanding student debt. While 47 per cent say they are overwhelmed, not all millennials feel the same way.
I reached out on social media to solicit feedback on ways to take control of your financial situation. Many of the responses were similar in nature but the individual who identified himself as “The Crusty Millennial” said it best:
- Check your expectations – Far too many youngsters come out of university expecting a fat paycheque and a lifestyle akin to the one their parents provided for so many years. Reality bites hard here: you’re probably going to earn less than you thought, your lifestyle will be more expensive than you realize, and that means you’re going to have to make some sacrifices to reach your goals. Cutting out one of your 55 favourite indulgences isn’t going to cut it.
- Live below your means – Everyone has dreams that are beyond what they can reasonably attain in the here and now. Part of a successful and fulfilling life is learning how to make the best of what you have and parlay that eventually into those dreams. Live in the basement apartment. Wash your dishes by hand. Tough it out and go to the neighbourhood laundromat. Skip the fancy restaurant and the bar. Pick the cheap seats. Identify things that should be rewards, not expectations, and enjoy them sparingly when you’re getting your financial feet under yourself.
- Delay gratification – If you always get what you want when you’re young, you’re probably going to be increasingly disappointed as you get older and face the myriad of life’s challenges. You need to learn to save for the things you really want. That awesome adventure to Borneo you’ve been eyeing? Don’t put it on your credit card and pay it back – save up for it by shaving a little bit off of every paycheque and putting it into a separate account. When you delay gratification, you’re always ahead of the game, and the only thing you’re playing catch up with is the lavish image other people project (which they’ve likely gone into debt for).
- Learn this skill to make your life more efficient (and attractive) – so many millennials eat out just as much, if not more, than they do at home. That is a huge drain on finances. Take the time to learn how to cook for yourself. Sunday night is the perfect chance to try out a fun recipe, and the added upside is that you just made yourself dinner for the next few nights. There are plenty of free resources online that will be useful. You can also take a class and make a more serious investment into your skillset. Knowing how to make actual food lowers the costs of living, it makes you a better party host, and it’s a great way to impress your crush.
- Say no sometimes – when you’re in your young professional years, it’s easy to be tempted to spend a lot of your newly-earned money. And there’s a good chance your friends will offer you the chance to do so on a near-nightly basis. Give yourself a fun night out on the town, because you’ve earned it, but resist the urge to do it on a constant basis. Stay in one night on the weekend and read a book (libraries are free), go for a run (being outside is free), and work on those cooking skills you need (it’s cheaper than going to a restaurant). You’ve got to say no occasionally to be able to have some leftover money to save.
Sometimes the best advice comes from those living the reality.