Published February 19, 2014
It’s safe to say most millennials have wondered “what’s next” in life, whether it’s life after college, getting a new job or moving out to their own place.
Given the tight job market, massive student debt and a slow growing economy, the challenges this generation faces means they must approach life differently than generations prior, according to Michael Price, author of What Next: The Millennial’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the Real World.
“I was having a tough time working into my new role [at work], and was talking with my parents about corporate politics and just my life experiences,” the millennial says. “I realized there are so many people in my generation who are lost, and don’t have a solid foundation.”
Millennials have gotten a bad rap in the workplace, for not working hard enough, being too entitled or not knowing how to properly communicate, Price says, and it’s time to put an end to that reputation.
“A lot of people in this generation think that a degree is what prepares you for everything, and I don’t necessarily believe that,” he says.
Here’s Price’s advice for young adults trying to navigate the real world:
On work: “Understand the difference between a job and a career.”
Price says that your first job doesn’t have to be the dream job you expect to stay in until retirement, but that each position should be a learning experience and used to create a strong network.
“Millennials will start working and think that is where their career begins,” he says. “You have to understand there are certain sacrifices you have to make [like taking a job you may not like] in order to advance your career.”
Renting or buying your first home: “Be financially stable first.”
When you decide you are ready to move out of your parent’s house and either rent or buy your own place, it can be easy to commit to more than you can actually afford. Price cautions that financial stability is key.
“Base this on where you are in your life,” he says. “And, be sure you are comfortable in your chosen career—you have to have a solid foundation first.”
Spending and saving: “Track and cut out waste.”
Price say it’s critical to start tracking your expenses immediately, claiming many young adults lack savings because of excessive spending rather than low wages.
“Once you’ve determined your bills and have reduced wasteful spending, what’s left over can be applied to discretionary spending, savings and investments,” he says. The percentage of money you allocate to each of these depends on your income and the amount of money you have left over. Nonetheless, it's important to add to each of these ‘buckets’ each month.”
Despite its name, he says discretionary spending should have boundaries that fit with your incoming revenue stream, but should be used on items that you look forward to monthly.
The savings bucket should be thought of as an emergency fund, and investments are financial security for your future, he says.