Sometimes known as Generation Y, millennials came of age around the turn of the last century and in many cases are reaching their prime earning years. They also witnessed the downfall of Enron and federal bank bail-outs, events that have made younger investors wary of traditional investment opportunities. Younger earners who have lost faith in the security of some financial institutions must still deal with important money management issues, however, particularly if they have families or own businesses.
Retirement may be decades away for millennial investors, but it’s never too early to start planning a financial future. A CPA can help investors at any age sort through their finances and find viable solutions to concerns. First, though, an accountant or financial advisor must understand your specific needs.
Coping with Education Costs
For many younger earners, college loans are the single greatest debt burden they carry. Rooming with friends or living with parents can defray housing costs, and other expenses such as medical bills and child care costs are minimal to nonexistent for recent graduates. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in the first decade of the new century – the time during which millennials were in school and preparing for their careers – the cost of an education at a public university rose more than 40 percent. An economic downturn meant fewer households could shoulder that expense alone, leaving many students to seek loans that are now due. Sound financial advice can give graduates with significant student debts the breathing room they need to plan for their financial futures beyond the latest monthly payment.
The generation that grew up on alternative music also has a preference for alternative investments, suggests research on shifting investing habits. Instead of investing in the stock market and traditional funds, young investors tend to look for unconventional ways of realizing a return on their investment dollars. They’re more likely than their Generation X and boomer counterparts to give their financial support to promising start-ups and projects.
It makes sense for younger investors to take a long-range view of financial investments; with decades in which to weather course corrections in the market, higher-risk investments often perform well over time. Adventurous investing when earners are younger also lets them absorb the impact of investments that don’t perform up to expectations.
Employee-Sponsored Retirement Plans
Although retirement years are far away for millennial investors, many still set aside funds through their employers’ 401(k) programs, particularly if enrollment includes matching funds. For those who are self-employed or work for small businesses that don’t offer 401(k) plans, financial guidance can help plan for the distant future. Most workers today won’t spend four decades with the same firm and earn a pension, but a 401(k) plan provides portable protection that employees can roll over to new places of employment. Contributing to the plan can also reduce tax burdens today, allowing younger investors to reap the benefits of a defined-contribution program well before retirement age.
Millennial investors who have or plan to have families are long-range thinkers when it comes to tuition expenses for their children. College funds start when the kids are still in diapers because young parents know how costly tuition has become for them. Changing family needs also mean a reassessment of health care options and life insurance policies. For most millennials, this period may be the first time they’ve had to consider making complex financial arrangements, and getting a CPA’s advice can help.