The High Cost of Being a Millennial

Twenties

This is a guest post from David Carlson, writer at Young Adult Money. If you are interested in writing a guest post please see the guest post policy.

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A majority of millennials – those who fall in the 18 to early 30s age range – will go through some major life events within a relatively short period of time. Not only are these life events usually incredibly expensive, but they also come at a time when salaries and pay are relatively low compared to later in life. Usually the first decade or so out of college is filled with “paying your dues” and trying to figure out what you want to do career-wise for the rest of your life.

Today I want to look at some of these major life events and how they impact the finances of those in their 20s and 30s.

College Education

Most young adults choose to go to college after high school. Problem is, the cost of attending college is rising at a meteoric rate. Not only is tuition higher than ever, the costs of housing, text books, food, transportation, entertainment, etc. all have to be factored into the equation. Most finance their college education through student loans. While there is plenty of debate about whether young adults are taking out too many student loans, the reality is that many graduate college with a sizable debt load.

Even if you are able to land a good job after graduation, student loan payments have to be factored into the budgets of many college grads for years after graduation. Let’s not forget the fact that many career tracks also require graduate school, advanced degrees, and expensive professional certifications.

Marriage

Most people see themselves getting married one day. While people are getting married later in life than they have in the past, many still get married before the age of thirty. Unless you have parents bankrolling your wedding, you likely will need to come up with $10,000+ in financing (not counting the engagement ring, fellas!). While your wedding day certainly will be one of the most memorable of your life, it’s important to factor in all the costs and consider different ideas for keeping costs down.

Kids

Most people have children when they are in their 20s and 30s. Not only do children cost a ton of money over the course of their lives, but they also require a lot of time. There are some bloggers out there who work full-time, blog on the side, and have children, I have to believe that my blog work would have to be scaled back if I had children. What would I do without my beloved side hustles? I also am amazed at people who are able to work full-time, pursue an advanced degree, and raise children all at the same time.

I know I’m not hitting on the specific costs involved with having children but I think it’s pretty undeniable that they are an additional expense that need to be factored into your budget.

Buying a House

Buying your first home, whether it’s a single family home, condo, or townhouse, will be one of the biggest purchases you will have made in your life. As you can imagine – or maybe even have experienced yourself – there are a lot of advantages to owning a home. You build equity instead of paying rent, usually get a lot more space than you would renting, and have a place to call your own.

The costs involved in purchasing a home can add up quick, and they don’t stop once you close on your house. Consider the following expenses:

  • Down Payment
  • Closing Costs
  • Unexpected Expenses
  • Decorating/Furnishing
  • Upkeep
  • Insurance
  • Renovations

The costs add up quick. Combine these expenses with all the other expenses that young adults face and you can see why so many have trouble keeping their personal finances straight.

The Good News

Despite the high costs of being a millennial, there is plenty of good news:

  • Time – While it may be hard to come up with money for a retirement fund with so many expenses, millennials have a long investment horizon where compound interest can work in their favor.
  • Income will Increase – In your 20s and 30s you are likely making the least you will make in your career; your income will increase over time. While this is not always true, it is for most people. This means if you can balance your budget today, it will only become easier over time.
  • Major Expenses are usually Worth It – Your wedding will be one of the most memorable days of your life. Your education will open up doors for you and likely increase your income.

If you are a college grad, gotten married, have kids, and/or bought a house, how did you plan and deal with the costs involved? How are you planning ahead for these costs?

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David Carlson writes at Young Adult Money where topics include saving money, making money, real estate, health care, careers and more. You can find him on Twitter @DavidCarlson1 and also follow Young Adult Money on Facebook and Twitter.

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Photo by stopnlook

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How Fellow Millennial Bloggers Schedule Their Time

This morning I shared 5 Tips For Creating A Work Schedule. I asked some fellow bloggers how they schedule their work on twitter. Here’s a quick re-cap of the conversation.

1. A Calendar Cannot Be Overrated

Lindsay Shoemake from That Working Girl and Michelle Adams both share a common love for utilizing a calendar. Having a calendar on your phone, computer or going old school like Rebecca Fraser-Thill from Working Self with a paper planner can help keep track of important dates and split up your hours.

2. Using Lists and Emails

Erin Lowry from Broke Millennial comments on how she uses lists on post-it notes and marking unread emails as a way to stay organized. Lists can help you keep of tasks so nothing gets lost in the hustle and bustle of work. Marking emails as unread, or important for Gmail users, or flagging them for Microsoft Outlook users, can allow you to come back to emails when it is more convenient.

3. Combining Methods

Emmie Scott from World By Storm talks about using a combination of techniques. She too uses the calendar technique. For her lists and notes she uses Evernote to seamlessly keep track of notes, lists, brainstorms, etc. across all platforms wherever she is. She has synced Evernote on her computer, phone and kindle! It’s a great tool for organization, scheduling and prioritizing.

How do you schedule your work?

What’s New on Ask the Young Professional

If you haven’t noticed Ask the Young Professional has been getting some upgrades. I hope you enjoy the new face lift Ask the Yo Pro got. Here are some more new things to take a glance at…

New and Improve:

About Page 

There is now a page dedicated solely to the purpose of what Ask the Young Professional is all about. There is still an About Me if you want to learn a little bit about me, the writer and creator of Ask the Young Professional. Check out About Ask the Yo Pro for the new Vision and Mission statements to learn a little more about what this blog is trying to do for you.

Contact 

There is now a Contact Me page where you can find my email to reach out to me and to ask me questions about your personal experience. Ask the Yo Pro is now featured across multiple social media sites including; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. More to come soon. Please e-mail me any suggestions you have on how to improve Ask the Yo Pro and what topics you would like me to talk about.

Guest Post 

Ask the Young Professional is now open to Guest Posts! If you would like to write something for Ask the Yo Pro, please take the time to read the policy then feel free to write away then email it to me!

Community

The Yo Pro Community is growing every day, Ask the Yo Pro is now featuring favorite blogs and supporters.

Stay Tuned For:

Young Professional Advice from Friends (YPAF)

Young Professional Advice from Friends is a collection of voices from different ages, places and industries to share advice on starting off and being twenty. It will be launching July 1st with a variety of fellow bloggers from the world wide web!  It is going to be an amazing collaboration of ideas, stories, advice all being shared from some of my favorite blogs and supporters.

YPAF will also be opened to the public after launch day. You will see a page appear next to the Guest Post Policy which will contain all the information on what topics to cover and how to submit.

Tune in July 1st for the very first YPAF post and every Monday to see whose advice is being featured each week!

How To Shop and Save on Groceries

Ever since I moved to NY I’ve had problems with grocery shopping. This is my first apartment and consequently there are a lot of “adult things” I’ve been figuring out on the way, mainly budgets. Besides the lovely monthly bills and travel (Yay, $112 monthly unlimited subway rides!), groceries is where I spend my most money. I know this because I keep track of my money, you can see how on my post on how I use Mint.com.

Grocery shopping has caused me to struggle with more than just the budget. I am the oldest of four and lived with both my parents, and we’re all pretty athletic so that means I grew up in a house hold of 6 mouths with big appetites. I’m used to buying in bulk and cooking in bulk. I always liked cooking big meals. I love left overs. It makes your week easier and you can eat your favorite meal over and over again! How great is that?

Unfortunately this table for one now has two big problems with buying food:

  1. I can’t use the food fast enough so too much goes bad too quickly.
  2. I can’t carry all the food I would normally buy on my 10 minute walk home from the store, I’m simple not super woman.

Those are my sad grocery shopping problems which I’m calling; Budget, Bulk and Bad. If I’m having these problems, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who are encountering the same problems. Here are three tips for each Budget, Bulk and Bad grocery problem that I’ve learned along they way.

Budget

Be Realistic 

When I first started creating my own budget I thought I should be conservative everywhere. I soon realized I was not going to be able to stay within this budget and it was okay to make adjustments. Food is something we need. It is a necessity, not an extra. I found that it was better to be honest about how much I spent monthly, rather than to force myself stay below an arbitrary number.

Create a Working System

I started off by keeping all my receipts. I made a system to see how much I spent each much. This became a lot easier once I started using Mint.com, because it automatically did that for me. Now I can quickly see how much money I am spending and how much I have left to spend for the rest of the month.

Like I said above, I had to go back to make adjustments. When I saw that I needed to account for more money on groceries I took money from other budget areas. For example, I took money from budgets for going out and clothes shopping then put that amount in my grocery budget.

Be Smart With Your Money

Just because you’re being realistic and you have a system doesn’t mean you should just throw all your money away without even thinking! Pay attention to labels and look for the deals. Be that guy who uses coupons from the Sunday newspaper, because lets face it, the people on Extreme Couponing are pretty amazing. There are numerous websites and apps to help you find, download and organize all your coupon needs. Take advantage of it.

When looking at sale tags you will want to pay extra attention to the unit price. Sometimes it will pay to buy more, but be reasonable on your size choice and be aware of shelf life. I also often find traps set for the eager deal shopper. For example, I’ve seen a sale at 2 for $5 for a brand name item, but the store brand is $1.20/item. If you didn’t catch that math it means the brand name item is $1.50/item so the store brand is cheaper at $1.20. Basically sale items can be a tricky trap, so be smart!

Bulk

Don’t But In Bulk

Just don’t do it. There’s only one of you… or maybe two if you split the groceries with your roommate. You don’t need to buy the biggest pack, you can go a size or two down. Obviously nonperishable items can be a bit of an exception, but buyer be ware, buy too much and you could be spending more than you need to. For veggies I tend to buy frozen vegetables now because something always changes and I can’t use the fresh ones in time. For fruits and meats I just started by buying half the amount I did before. It’s kind of something you need to feel out on your own.

Make a Grocery List

A great way to avoid buying too much is to make a grocery list. Simple, yet so helpful. The key to a grocery list and stick to it, don’t buy anything that is not on your list. I have a printed grocery list where I can check off items I have run out of. (You can download it at the bottom of this post.) If you want to be super intense you could use your receipts to keep track of how much of what items you use and how often. But starting with a general grocery list will be a great start.

Always Have a Bag

If you have a car, I envy you, but this tip could still help you. Sometimes the numerous plastic bags it takes to carry all your food makes it more complicated, and quite uncomfortable. I’ve started keeping an extra bag that folds up in my purse. This is the bag I have, I got it from work. Having this fold up bag allows me to go grocery shopping whenever I want and I don’t have to go home first. I can just hop off the subway and stop at the grocery store on my walk home. Any eco-friendly bag simplifies your shopping experience, the baggers at the cashier don’t mind at all, and its better for the environment.

Bad

Buy Less More Often

We talked about not buying in bulk to help with your carrying load, but this will also save from food going bad. If you buy less more often, say weekly or biweekly, you will be more conscious about what you are buying. Stick to that grocery list mentioned above. Think about what you will need in that period of time and how much you can actually eat. Think about your schedule, can you really finish all that food or make a new meal every night before the food goes bad? Instead, try buying one item that can be used in multiple meals. Do you love tomatoes? I know I do! I buy a couple of tomatoes for the week and use them in breakfast sandwiches, salads for lunch and pastas for dinner.

Plan For Meals

Take your grocery list and shopping experience to the next level by planning your meals for the week(s). This will help you in so many areas.  You can coordinate meals that use similar items so you will spend less and waste less. You can be smart with your money by choosing to make meals based on what’s on sale that week. I’ve seen the most improvement in how much I’m spending and how much I’m wasting just by planning meals ahead of time.

Cook One Big Meal a Week

Like I said, I love cooking big meals. I think it’s great to cook one big meal on a Sunday night to have left overs to bring to work for the week. It’s also great when I have no time to cook when I get home after a late work night. This week I made an improvement on my routine. Normally I cook a big meal then leave it in one big container, so each day I would take out what I need for lunch or dinner. The problem here is when I’m home for dinner I tend to take seconds, so the meals wouldn’t last as long as I wanted. Now instead of using one large container I split up the portions into individual tupperware. This new system has been great, I’m eating a healthy portion and saving enough meals for the week.

Working with Budget, Bulk and Bad was easier than I thought. I really don’t have any problems with grocery shopping anymore. I’ve grown to like shopping one a week. In the last month my lowest grocery bill was $16 and the highest $35. Here’s an example of my staple weekly grocery list items:

  • Eggs – $1.00
  • Bread – $1.00
  • Rice – 2/$5
  • Pasta – 3/$3
  • Chicken – $8.00

That’s only $18 right there. Keep in mind that I’m rounding here and I don’t buy all of these items every week. Especially rice and pasta, those have a long shelf life. I know it sounds bland, but that’s just my staples. Depending on what I’m planning for the week and what I already have I may only need a few more things to make a scrumptious meal. Like last night, I made Shepherd’s Pie for the first time! I bought groceries for it this past weekend, take a look at what the recipe called for and what I needed to buy…

  • 1.5 lbs of ground beef – bought it for $4
  • 1 onion chopped – already had 4 onions
  • 1-2 cups of vegetables – already had frozen corn
  • 3 big potatoes – bought them for $1 each
  • 1 stick of butter – already had a tub of butter
  • 1/2 cup of beef broth – already had a can left over from an old recipe and I saved the other half of the can in a jar for later
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce – already had it from a jambalaya recipe
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice – already had salt and pepper, and I used cinnamon to mix in the potatoes

From all that I only need to buy 2 things. I ended up getting 5 servings out of the meal. All that for under $10! Planning can really help.

What do you do to help with your grocery shopping? Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

Download my grocery list here: AsktheYoPro_GroceryList

For more recipes follow my recipe board on Pinterest.

3 Things I Could Go Without

Anthony’s post from Stuff Grads Like, 5 Things You Need to Give Up for 30 Days, inspired me to think about what I could go without. I sat down to write a list of what I could get rid of, what was unnecessary in my life.  Anything I could think of could fell under three categories. Honestly, I don’t know how long I could go without them because I am only human, but I do know I would feel much better after taking a break from them. I’m going to share these three things with you because I bet we could all do without them.

1. Technology

 

Anthony talked about giving up Facebook for 30 days, but I’m going to take it a step further. Do we really need all this technology in our daily lives? We have cell phones, mp3 players, tablets, laptop, computers, televisions… and crazy gadgets that I’m probably not cool enough to know about. I know some of this is inevitable. Cell phones are good in case of an emergency and we use computers at work. But how much could we reduce our use of technology?

Earlier this week when I got home from work I decided to see how much I could do before I sat myself down in front of the television. I read a book. I finally potted that plant that’s been waiting way too long to finally have a home. I cleaned my fish bowls (Chaz and Bebo are very thankful, I’ll have to Instagram them for you tonight). I did the dishes. I updated my calendar. I even got my laundry in while doing all of this! I did all of this to end my night with a nice meal I prepared. Yes, I ate my meal in front of the television because Leslie Knope is a great dinner companion. It surprised me but I felt a lot better and was in a better mood than my normal “come home and relax in front of the TV” routine.

I think we could all challenge ourselves to at least…

  • Not carry our phones around with us everywhere. Have it for the emergencies and if someone needs to get a hold of you, but leave it in one spot. Don’t check it unless you get a phone call, text messages can always be answered later, enjoy the moment you’re in.
  • Not stare at a screen all day. Our eyes need a break from screens. Most likely you stare at a screen all day at work, so read a book, go outside, get some exercise, meet up with friends, do something relaxing that doesn’t require technology.

2. Complaining

Seriously, do we really need to complain so much? Whatever we complain about, there is always someone who has it worse. I think we forget about that too much. I know, complaining is easy and I do it a lot. I complain about the job I have when most of my friends don’t even have a full time “real” job! How insane is that?!?

Complaining is just a bad habit that brings us down. Why not try our hardest to get rid of it. Instead we could practice good habits to replace complaining. It’s a little cliche but for some reason it’s harder to remember the good than the bad. Reminding yourself of how good you have it and how awesome you are could fight the urge to complain.

I challenge you to fight complaining with positive support by…

  • Creating  inspiration boards. Collect some inspiring words and picture then display them how you wish.  
  • Volunteering. Helping others is a great way to give back and helps make you humble.
  • Complimenting others. Instead of focusing on things you don’t like in your life, concentrate on the good in others’.

3. Laziness

Laziness is like a disease! It creeps in and then you can’t get rid of it! Laziness is the cause of so many unwanted or unnecessary things. The two things I thought of were procrastination and eating habits.

We could get so much more done with our days, weeks, months, lives if we didn’t procrastinate. We would improve in so many areas; work, home, relationships, friendships, and personal goals. If we were proactive we could spend time taking on new tasks at work, which could help us move up in our career; spending more time with friends to maintain relationship; and learning new things to improve ourselves.

I was going to make junk food the fourth things I could go without until I realized that I eat bad because I’m lazy! If I wanted to eat better I could create a meal plan for my week/month, research different diets, and have healthy snacks prepared to resist the easy to grab bag of chips.

Let’s challenge ourselves to fight laziness by…

  • Creating daily routines or scheduling things in a planner.
  • Putting a time limit on our down time.
  • Making a resolution to first do something active and productive before we reward ourselves with down time.

It would be a big leap to stop doing all three things at once. I imagine it would be very challenging to keep your will power up through all of this. But what if we just started with on thing at a time? Or making a small effort each day? Or having one goal from each thing for just a week? Do you think you could go without these three things?

What are your three things you could do without?

Dr. Meg Jay from The Defining Decade – 30 Is Not The New 20

Check out my girl, Dr. Meg Jay! She’s on TED talking about her lessons for twentysomethings.

I did a post series on her book, The Defining Decade, where we learned about the importance of using our twenties to build of future in work, family and personal life. Listen to this talk, read some of my posts, and take the time to read The Defining Decade. If you learn and act, you will be better prepared than most of your peers.

“Thirty is not the new twenty, so claim your adulthood, get some identity capital, use your weak ties, pick your family. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You’re deciding your life right now.” ~Dr. Meg Jay

Related Articles:

3 Tips to Wake Up Better

Are you the type of person who repeatedly hits the snooze button in the morning? Or who could just sleep all day?

Here are three tips to get you up and going in the morning.

1) Put Your Alarm Clock Out of Reach

Moving your alarm clock to somewhere you can’t reach it will force you to get out of bed. This will prevent you from hitting snooze and turning back over under the covers. Try putting it under your bed or across the room.

2) Take a Shower in the Morning

Taking a shower in the morning can jolt you awake. I like to take a nice cool shower to wake me up. My Neutrogena Deep Clean Invigorating Foaming Scrub also helps wake me up. The little bursting scrubbing bubbles have a fresh tingling sensation that really helps my face to wake up. That’s my bonus jolt of energy for the morning, a shower can help with or with out the face wash.

3) Eat Breakfast

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason. Eating breakfast gives your body nutrients to get moving. It’s like putting gas in your car to get going. Running on low or no gas won’t get you far, and a quick gulp of coffee won’t get you through the day, just like a quick gas fill up won’t get you through your whole road trip.

These are three simple and easy tips o add to your daily routine. I know, you’re probably thinking, “Katie, this sounds like I’ll have to wake up even earlier, why would I want to do that?” Trust me, I never called myself a morning person, but I found myself more productive and awake by trying these three easy steps. I first tried waking up 5 – 10 minutes earlier to see how my day would go. My day was less hectic because I was on time. I wasn’t stressed running around trying to get ready in a rush and then hustle off to the next part of my day. Instead, my day started off calm and relaxing.

My Personal Morning Routine

My morning routine goes something like this… (I have to be to work at 9:30 and I’m about 45 minutes away.)

  • 7:30 Alarm clock goes off.
  • A quick morning prayer and/or read of my daily inspirational quote app.
  • Take a shower, brush teeth, all that good hygiene stuff !
  • Get changed, do make up, get pretty and awesome looking! Sometimes I put on a country music playlist in the background.
  • Make and have breakfast. It’s usually about 8:00-8:10 around this time.
  • 8:25 Start packing bag, putting on my shoes, grab keys, wallet and phone. I usually have my lunch in the fridge and key necessities in my bag ready to go.
  • 8:30 I’m out the door! Giving myself a little 15 minute window to be a little early or plan for the unexpected.

This is a normal daily routine for me when I’m going to the office. Some days I have time to sit and watch some morning television while I eat breakfast. Other days I make a breakfast sandwich or grab a granola bar for breakfast on the go. It all depends on how much I leave to do in the morning or how early I need to get into work.

Bonus Tip!

If you haven’t tried the app Sleep Cycle, download it! This app analyses your sleep cycle all night to wake you up during your lightest sleep. Waking up during your deep sleep cycle is probably the hardest thing to do. I love this app because I feel light and easy waking up instead of heavy eyes and a drowsy body.  If you use this app, you won’t be able to use tip #1. You need to have your phone charging and laying in your bed so the phone can run all night and analyse your body. I think it was free when I downloaded it, but now I think it’s a dollar. I think it is worth the try if your body really fights you hard in the morning.

Don’t think any of these tips will work? Try them for a week or at least once. Come back and tell me what you think!

How do you wake up in the morning? What is your morning routine?