How to juggle financial goals when you’re starting out

” It’s a struggle for sure, but if you really take the time to devise a plan, even with just a few steps in it, you are going to be able to get going,” said Skip Johnson, an advisor at Great Waters Financial in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

No wonder that stops plenty of young people from getting started. More than 3 in 4 millennials surveyed by the Million Dollar Round Table, agree that having a financial plan is the ticket to reaching their goals. Fewer than 1 in 10 actually has a plan.

Slackers? Far from. In the same survey, nearly two-thirds of millennials said they weren’t working on financial goals because they didn’t feel they had the income to pull it off, or because they just didn’t know where to start.

Navigating a way-too-long list of financial priorities can feel like you’re being tasked with juggling while riding a unicycle when you’re in the early stages of adulthood. Blindfolded.

Here’s how to get rolling:

The trick to having some cash available to put toward financial goals is to curb your enthusiasm for living it up. “Your first place doesn’t need to have stainless steel appliances,” said Johnson.
Save your raises. Promise yourself that whenever you get a killer or a raise new job, you will dedicate at least half of the extra dough to working on your long-term financial goals.
No paying Peter (credit card) a lot one month while starving Paul (student loan). At the same time, try to get your interest rates lowered. Call up your credit card issuer and ask for a rate cut– yes, this can work– and if that doesn’t pan out, see if you can qualify for a balance-transfer deal where you will have low or no interest payments for a year or more.
Game out how you ‘d handle a financial setback. Doug Amis, 27, a certified financial planner at Cardinal Retirement Planning in Cary, North Carolina, challenges clients to think through where they would come up with $5,000 to cover a major surprise, such as a big medical expense. To be clear, eventually your goal is to have an emergency fund that can cover six months of living expenses; but the goal at this stage is to just get the $5,000 air bag installed in your financial plan.
The best place for an emergency cash fund is a federally insured bank or credit union savings account. In the early going you might consider building up your $5,000 emergency fund by contributing to a Roth IRA.
Once you have the basic bills covered and you’ve got the $5,000 mini-emergency fund in place, focus on upgrading your investing in the three main financial goals: Make extra payments on the credit card or loan with the highest interest rate; start participating (or increase your contribution rate) to a company retirement plan; and build a bona fide emergency savings fund in a bank or credit union account. You want to simultaneously work on all three, but if knocking off one goal would make you feel extra good and secure, lean into that goal hardest.

The trick to having some cash available to put toward financial goals is to curb your enthusiasm for living it up. To be clear, eventually your goal is to have an emergency fund that can cover six months of living expenses; but the goal at this stage is to just get the $5,000 air bag installed in your financial plan.
Once you have the basic bills covered and you’ve got the $5,000 mini-emergency fund in place, focus on upgrading your investing in the three main financial goals: Make extra payments on the credit card or loan with the highest interest rate; start participating (or increase your contribution rate) to a company retirement plan; and build a bona fide emergency savings fund in a bank or credit union account.

More than 3 in 4 millennials surveyed by the Million Dollar Round Table, agree that having a financial plan is the ticket to reaching their goals. In the same survey, nearly two-thirds of millennials said they weren’t working on financial goals because they didn’t feel they had the income to pull it off, or because they just didn’t know where to start.

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