• April 2015

20-Somethings + the Art of Managing Their Own Money

By Eurah Lee
Millennials Radio Show

Millennials and money. The words flow right out of my mouth, just like my money flows out of my bank account.

You’d think that the banking applications on our smartphones would help me and my fellow 20-somethings be better able to stay abreast of our cash flow and finances.

But the sad reality is that many of us have yet to learn the value of saving money. We do know that we have to learn about it — and now is a good a time as any to take control of our financial futures.

That’s why this month, my fellow Inkandescent Interns and I decided it was time to get some advice about this important area of our lives.

In addition to reading all the great information in the April 2015 Tax Issue of Be Inkandescent magazine, we wanted to ask questions of someone our age who seems to have a handle on money management. So we invited Alberto Francese, a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), to star in this month’s episode of the Millennials Radio Show.

He’s graduating from the finance program at VCU and since November has had a job with Liberty Mutual Insurance, where he was an intern. For the last year, he has also been the president of Gamma Iota Sigma, the academic fraternity for risk management and actuarial science at VCU.

We asked Alberto:

  • Why aren’t more Millennials money-savvy?
  • Do we really need to consider creating retirement plans at our age?
  • What in the world is a Roth IRA?
  • And what about paying off our college loans? How long will that really take?

Once Alberto explained what an IRA is (thank you very much!), he said it was easy to go to the bank and open one up. And my favorite tip is that he suggested throughout college to simply put aside $20/month. I can definitely do that! So like me, put this on your to-do list for this spring. As it turns out, it’s never too early to start planning ahead.

  • And scroll down to read how three other Inkandescent Interns and I are dealing with managing our money.

Juliana Rodriguez, assistant editor, Inkandescent PR: I have a love/hate relationship with money. I love having it, but I hate all of the headaches that come with it. The minute I was old enough to have a job I got one because I wanted my own money. I’ve always hated having to ask my parents for money for things like clothes, going to the movies, or going out to eat with friends, so I was excited to start earning my own money early.

I’m good at saving the money I need to pay bills and maintain a comfortable lifestyle, but what I struggle with the most is saving. It seems that whenever I have a little extra left at the end of the month, my first instinct is to buy a new top (that I probably don’t need), when it should be to put that extra money into a savings account.

I took my first finance class during my junior year of college, and only because it was required in order to receive my business minor. I finished this class wondering why it is not a requirement for each student, no matter what they are studying. Really, I wish saving would have been something we learned in high school. Something as simple as creating a budget would have been great to know!

Jacob Woisard, finance major, Inkandescent Intern 2015: Saving money has always been a challenge, one that has caused me problems quite frequently. The trouble isn’t that I don’t understand budgeting, or how important it is to save, etc. The trouble I’ve had, has always been self-control.

The urge to spend on things I need and don’t need alike has always been stronger than my willpower. If I had to guess, I’d say it comes with being young and immature, as I have gotten better about it over time. The best way I could have prepared myself for coming to college and being more fiscally responsible might have been to have someone I know, trust, and respect to talk to me about it.

If I had an adult figure in my life talk to me about budgeting my money and how much I’ll regret it if I keep spending freely, I’m certain I would be in a far better place with my money. Although I do think going out and learning the hard way has benefited me in its own way, it would have been nice if I could have learned without spending too much money in the first place.

Anna Paige Gibbs, Inkandescent Photo Intern 2015: Personally, I have had difficulty spending my money responsibly since I first had access to cash.

My primary problem is that I tend to only think about it in terms of individual spendings as opposed to the entirety of it, and I fail to recognize consistently how much I am spending overall — until it is too late and I have to call my parents because there is a zero balance in my checking account.

It’s a terrifying moment of realization when I take a look at my bank statement, which always catches me by surprise since I neglect to keep track of my spendings as I go along.

Yes, my parents tried to teach me how to do it. And this issue I have with money I blame entirely on myself, having failed to pay attention to the importance of it before being on my own at college. It has become especially problematic since I have had the constant option of buying food and snacks whenever desired. It is easy, but extremely pricey, to buy a quick meal or snack when out and about, and it is even easier to forget how quickly it adds up. A bagel for $2 here, a cup of coffee for $1 there, a few things to snack on from the market down the street for $10 — and before long I’ve spent $100.

It is an easy trap to fall into, and I have done so almost every month for quite a while now.

However, recently since I have become more aware of the seriousness of my struggle with money, I have taken measures to find a solution and take better control of my spendings and, better yet, savings. Really simple changes have already helped:

  • Downloading an app for my iPhone that’s connected to my bank account (it gives me the ability to constantly view my account balance and easily see what and where I am spending my allowance).
  • Going to the grocery store once a week to buy the ingredients I need so I can pack my lunch during the week to eat between classes.
  • Reading up on personal finance. I do wish that I had taken an economics or personal finance class in high school.
  • And it’s time to get a job. I had one my junior and senior year of high school (as a hostess, then a waitress, at a taqueria in Arlington). I loved making my own money and look forward to doing that again!

And, I’m trying to let myself feel a little less terrible about all this. My parents taught me by example how to save money and do so well, which I feel should have been enough. But I may have taken that and let it be something that I would be able to do one day, just not today. It seems that “one day” has arrived! Hopefully, through these financial mistakes I have made, that day has come, and I will begin to follow their example in saving and spending wisely.

Eurah Jessica Lee, Inkandescent Radio Intern 2015: Throughout the past 21 years, I have used the phrase “I can’t, I’m broke” as a mental technique in order to save money.

Truth is, I was never really broke. It was more of a lie to myself in order to keep myself from spending more money. Unfortunately, now when I say that “I’m broke,” I truly mean it.

And my mom (pictured above with me) has set a good example of what it means to balance saving money with enjoying life. Although sometimes I get confused because she’ll give me a hard time about saving my money now — and then tell me that I’m young and shouldn’t worry about it.

After writing this article and doing the podcast, I think it’s time to have a bigger conversation about that with her. In fact, that’s something Alberto suggests — to connect with your parents and other adults you trust, as well as a financial adviser, to get your financial questions answered and set up a savings plan.

I think you’ll learn a lot from this month’s podcast that Juliana and I did with Alberto. Be sure to give a listen to this month’s episode of the Millennials Radio Show.

Have any money saving tips? Want to share your thoughts on how you deal with managing your money? And all you parents out there, do you have some good advice for Millennials like me and my friends? Drop me an email.