You’re a broke millennial. And so is author Erin Lowry*—or, at least she used to be.
But Lowry turned her financial situation around using a variety of tips, tricks, and adopting a disciplined approach to her money.
And now Lowry is sharing her advice for other broke millennials our podcast “Teach Me How to Money,” including these seven tips for young adults looking to get their finances in order.
The following are excerpts from Lowry’s recent conversation with Stash editorial director Lindsay Goldwert, edited for clarity.
1. Keep going with your financial goals
Money is not black and white. I’m not a math person. You never had to be good at math in order to be good at money. I hate that idea of, ‘Oh, I’m not good at math, so I can’t handle money well.’
I think it’s also that I completely acknowledge that you’re going to trip up, you’re going to fail. I have failed multiple times trying to reach financial goals. It’s just reset and keep going.
2. Planning a wedding? Lie.
Fun tip. Sad and sexist, but true: If you’re in a heterosexual relationship and getting married, put the man on the phone to call [event companies], and say you’re planning a family gathering. (You’ll probably get a better deal.)
3. Financial planning in your 20s can be a nightmare. Roll with it.
Our lifestyles are really in flux in our 20s. What worked for you at 21 might not work for you at 29, because your life has changed, and hopefully, your salary has changed a lot, debts have probably changed, hopefully down, but you never know. Things happen. Sometimes, we get so anchored to this one style that we’re not flexible in realizing we need to change.
4. Try The Cash Diet
The “cash diet” is the juice diet of the financial world, and it’s the first thing I encourage people to do. The “cash diet” means only carrying cash, and making all purchases in cash.
Read more: What’s the cash diet?
Especially in the day and age of digital, a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, I can’t do that. Everything I spend is online.’ I love coupling it with something I call the Tracking Every Penny Method. That is, every single time you make a purchase, you write down how much you spent. More importantly, what you spent it on.
The cash diet has been proven to reduce how much you spend, because the physical action of handing cash over sets something off in your brain, where it’s like, “Oh, I don’t want to part with this.”
5. Trigger warning!
Acknowledge and identify what’s triggering you [to spend]. That can be really hard to do.
For me, if I get really upset and stressed about something and then there’s this one bakery in my neighborhood that makes the most amazing brownie, and sometimes that is my, ‘Oh, I’m going to buy a $3.50 brownie.’
Now, it’s not good for my waistline or necessarily my budget to do that consistently.
6. Need to improve your credit score? Pay off your credit cards.
I’m a big advocate of paying off your credit card balance on time and in full. There’s never, ever a need to carry a balance on your credit card from month to month. That is one of the worst myths that are out there. People hear that all the time, in order to build your credit score, you have to carry a balance. I’ve spoken to a lot of experts and a lot of credit bureaus and credit scoring model companies. You absolutely do not have to carry a balance [to improve your credit]. Just pay off your bill in full.
7. Can’t get yourself to save for retirement? Try this one simple trick.
For anyone who feels [unmotivated] to save, I have a really quirky recommendation. Find an ‘aging’ app. You put in a picture of yourself today, and it will age you 50 years. Sounds ridiculous. There is a study out from UCLA that found that if people see an aged photo of themselves, they’re more likely to connect with the future version of themselves, and it will motivate [them] to save and prepare for [retirement].
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