Proper money management is difficult to grasp, particularly because there are so many issues to consider. While there are some complexities that may confuse many people, millennials fail at a more basic level, partly because they’re not receiving the right financial education.
Missing Out on the Basics
The problem millennials are running into is that they’re not receiving a quality financial education. The system fails young students in elementary and high school, but the lack of educational opportunities continues in most colleges. According to The Council for Economic Education, one one-third of U.S. states mandate a personal finance course for high school students. China, Belgium, and Canada are just a few of the countries leading the way in financial literacy skills among high school students, while the U.S. is falling drastically behind.
A Lack of a Budget
This failure to educate America’s youth means that most young adults don’t understand the importance of establishing and following a budget. Millennials aren’t alone, either. Overall, only 41% of Americans follow a budget. While a budget may seem restrictive, it’s necessary to determine where your money is going and how it can be better handled.
Failing to Save for Retirement
Here is something else that affects millions of Americans, but millennials in particular. Starting as early as possible, millennials should be investing 20% of every paycheck in a retirement account. At the very least, millennials should be taking advantage of the 401k accounts offered by their employers. While retirement may seem like a far off goal, the years will pass quickly and you may end up with nothing saved by the time you reach retirement age.
Again, millennials aren’t alone in this category. There aren’t many people who have a solid understanding of the U.S. income tax laws, but that’s no excuse. It’s necessary to work with a tax professional to ensure you’re taking advantage of all tax breaks for which you’re eligible, especially if you have student loans to repay. Additionally, money earned from side gigs must be reported. Too often, millennials don’t report money earned from driving for Uber or selling products online only to receive a letter from the IRS about unclaimed income.
While these are the most common errors millennials make in managing their money, they’re not the only ways they fail to maintain a good financial profile. The best thing anyone can do for themselves is to take a personal finance course and put those lessons to use in their real world situations.