Budgeting and saving money are not always the most popular topics to talk about, especially among millennials. The usual response might run along the lines of “since I’m never going to be able to retire anyway, what’s the point in thinking about saving for retirement?”

During the day to day grind this might seem a like a practical approach to take, especially when there are so many experiences, events, and locations to go to instead of pinching pennies, but that way of thinking is not the most appropriate long-term approach to building your financial lifestyle and wellness plan.

Saving Money Is Like A Good Workout

Personal finance, financial wellness, and putting together the correct financial plan is a lot like a workout plan, and can be integrated into your day-to-day in much the same way. Eating right, exercising, monitoring your progress, and competing with your friends to get the best results, and using technology to help you achieve these goals, are everywhere you look, and should be used to help improve your financial situation.

Your financial health and savings plan are at least as important as your workout program, so let’s take a look at some of the specifics as to why saving and financial planning are so important. Saving money, especially for something as abstract and as distant as retirement can seem like something that is not particularly important, so it’s a good idea to take a step back and assess what financial planning and savings actually accomplish in terms of technical development as well financial well-being.

Retirement is Costly

Kelley Holland, of CNBC, cites a 2015 report issued by JP Morgan Asset Management that highlights an important point about millennials and retirement – “Many will have to finance retirements that are longer than the number of years they work.” Drilling down to the core of the issues it is clear that developing a savings plan, and habits that go along with it, are not optional and not just for down the road; these skills are necessary now in order to help millennials construct a financial future. Organization, the ability to analyze data and react to marketplace changes, and the recognition of opportunities are all skills that can be applied to savings plans and career development.

A 401k Provides A Tax Advantage

Another key reason why millennials should start saving is that there is a tax advantaged way of doing so, i.e. you pay lower taxes if you do it right! Specifically, the popularity of 401k plans and mutual funds are key reasons why. Dan Kadlec, acknowledging this, states “the average age that millennial households started investing in funds is 23, according to the Investment Company Institute. That compares with 37 for older boomers, and 32 for younger boomers.”

But why? Without delving too much into the specific tax code sections and implications, 401k plans, which are where the majority of individuals invest retirement funds, allow you to invest your money as pre-tax amount, lowering your taxable income, and let it grow tax-free over time.

Millennial Magazine- saving money

While the taxes have to be paid when the funds are withdrawn, the fact the funds invested can grow tax-free is a benefit to you. Paying taxes is not fun for anyone, so why not do everything you can to save more and pay less in taxes? Part of a much broader conversation, the area of reducing taxable income is something that every millennial should take advantage of, as there are many tools and tactics that are available in order to help accomplish this goal. You have worked for your money and deserve to keep as much of it as you can.

It’s The Economy, Stupid!

Probably the most important reason why millennials should start saving money, or at least put a savings plan together is that, collectively as a generation, they have seen first-hand that good economic times do not last forever. Kimberly Palmer, of U.S. News, interviewed Kristen Robinson, Fidelity senior vice president of women and young investors, who had the following take – “They grew up during the recession, and they’ve seen their parents lose a lot of money.”

A sluggish economy, competitive job market, and organizations that demand ever-increasing levels of productivity reinforce the mindset that having some money set aside for the inevitable bumps in the road is just good, practical advice. Ignoring the possibility of another recession, or believing that it will not happen to you are not valid planning tactics for financial stability and health.

There’s No Time Like The Present

Being proactive, however, and starting early (no matter how small) will place millennials in a better position. Also, and on a lighter note, with increased savings and financial confidence comes increased financial flexibility and the ability to actually go out and experience the events, places, and people who make the top of your personal “to-do” list. Having a better handle on your finances means you will be able to do more of the things you want to do; win-win.

Saving money, financial planning, and establishing a plan for your financial health and well-being might not always be the trendiest, or sexiest way of spending your time, but it is essential for people seeking to develop both personally and professionally. Establishing and maintaining a personal finance plan can be tough, so one last tip would be to establish a budget team or find a budget buddy. Much like writing goals down and sharing them increases the odds of accomplishing them, making budgeting and saving a team sport will help with both establishing and maintaining goals and plans.

Financial fitness, planning, and establishing a plan for financial well-being are areas that develop professional skills, encourage broader and longer-term thinking, and help millennials obtain the financial flexibility and freedom that are so desirable. The tools are available, the motivation is evident, and the facts line up; all that is left is for millennials to make it happen.

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Sean Stein Smith


Bergenfield, NJ

Dr. Sean Stein Smith, DBA, CPA, CGMA, CMA, CFE is a Financial Analyst - Joint Ventures, at Hackensack University Medical Center. Sean is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of NJCPA Magazine, was selected as one of the NJCPAs "30 under 30" for 2015, and is an adjunct professor at both Fairleigh Dickinson University and Montclair State University. He is also serving his inaugural term on the AICPA's National Commission on Financial Literacy. When not writing, speaking, or teaching, Sean enjoys gardening, exercising, reading, pampering his dogs, and likes to do new/learn things whenever he can.

All posts by Sean Stein Smith

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