Savings Tips Help Millennials Get Serious

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This is young adults’ financial dilemma in a nutshell: you’re well aware you should be saving money, but you admit you’d rather spend it on the fun stuff.

Yes, paying the rent or student loans every month takes discipline. But it isn’t enough. Even more discipline must be summoned to save money, whether in an emergency fund or a retirement plan at work.

Tia Chambers' headshot
Tia Chambers
Tia Chambers, a financial coach in Indianapolis and certified financial education instructor (CFEI), has put some thought into how Millennials can overcome their high psychological hurdles to saving.

The 32-year-old lays out six doable steps on her website, Financially Fit & Fab, which she recently elaborated on during an interview.

Get in the right mindset. “It is the hardest part,” she said. “When I speak with clients, money is always personal, and it’s also emotional.” The best way to clear the emotional hurdles is to keep a specific, important goal in mind that continually motivates you, for example buying a house. Or create a detailed savings challenge, such as vowing to save $1 the first week, $2 the second week, $3 the third week, etc. This adds up to $1,378 at the end of the year, she said.

Cut expenses. Some cuts are no-brainers. Scrap cable for Hulu and Netflix subscriptions. Drop that gym membership you never use. The biggest challenge for young adults is saying no to friends who want to go out for dinner or drinks. Chambers suggests enlisting your friends to help – after all, they’re probably spending too much too. She and her friends have agreed to go out one weekend and save money the next weekend by hanging out at someone’s apartment. Another idea is happy hour once a week instead of twice.

Track where your money is going. Only 40 percent of Americans stick to a budget. At a minimum, learn where your money is going. One of Chambers’ clients recently examined her spending and realized that she’d spent $700 on food and entertainment the previous month. “That was a lot of money,” Chambers said. She suggested that her client cut that back to $400 per month – not an overly restrictive entertainment budget but one that would result in $3,600 in savings at the end of the year.

Save automatically. It’s so much easier to save if you never see the money. A 401(k), by reducing take-home pay, is the classic form of forced savings. Workers just learn to deal with the consequence of having less disposable income. This technique can also be applied to a regular savings account by scheduling an electronic transfer of money to the account each time a paycheck is deposited.

Hold Yourself Accountable to Your Goals. You’re the only one who can do this. Chambers suggests putting a reminder on the calendar. She found something else that works for her. A yellow post-it note stuck to her computer says, “Take cash out for the weekend.” “When my cash runs out,” she said, “my spending is done.”

It’s a new year. Give it a try!

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Robin Williams

Some great tips, but the problem for millennials can be surmised in one word: rent.

Chuck Miller

Actually…it’s delayed vs immediate gratification. Knowing what to do versus doing it is a huge gap.


Millennials have another big problem besides rent. It’s student loans. I know several who have loans of $60,000 or more — some who have much more in loans. Loan payments for amounts like that are crippling, when at the same time they are at the traditional age of family formation and home buying.


Easy credit is the Achilles heel for many as well. Using plastic instead of green dollars makes it seem less real. Oh yeah, don’t get caught with a mobile phone that’s several years old either, that’s demeaning (sarcasm).

Larry Kantor

It’s hard to save for retirement when you’re paying 45% of your wage on rent for a shared 1 bedroom apartment with 2 other people. In urban areas and cities like San Francisco, this is a reality. For others, a budget can be a life saver: How To Make A Budget

Larry Kantor

It’s hard to save for retirement when you’re paying 45% of your wage on rent for a shared 1 bedroom apartment with 2 other people. In urban areas and cities like San Francisco, this is a reality. For others, a budget can be a life saver: How To Make A Budget


A few solutions that should have been considered first:
– don’t go to “that” expensive university just for the college experience.
– go to a local community college the first two years (1/3 the cost; 1/3 the debt)
– live with parents during college (less debt for room/board)
– get a degree in a field that pays a high enough salary to afford to easily pay back the loan. They’re out there:

If they really have to do something that’s their passion, they can always do it after hours or on weekends while they’re making real money to keep a roof over their heads, afford food and other necessities, pay back their student loan, etc.


1) When starting out, look for jobs outside of “hot” rental markets if possible, or in towns near hot markets but still more affordable. The initial pay may be less, but likely so will expenses but do a real world calculation of the cost of living savings. And target longer priority goals that really matter to you over the urban hipster lifestyle.

2) Student loans are financially-indentured servitude, FOR LIFE since at present they can’t be escaped through bankruptcy EVER. The lender owns your finances and your income potential for LIFE (and your parents’ if they co-signed, including their own homes). Pay them down ASAP! Get professional help to consolidate them, the interest rates on many are ridiculously high in the current low interest rate environment.

3) If you want to have choices and flexibility in your future lifestyle and goals, give up some bling and downsize the lifestyle now to have real choices for the next 20 to 30 years. Choose your VALUES over STUFF.

4) A degree gets you in the door in many jobs, but experience and productivity get you the best job over time. There is a very limited pool of jobs you can access after college that require a top tier alma mater to get an interview. Many high paying jobs no longer require degrees at all, especially in tech. But they still require a high degree of proficiency at particular skill sets; target those.

5) Keep learning and advancing your marketability for the REAL world job prospects that pay well or fulfills your personal goals. To be free to choose, you have to have or create competitive value in the world of commerce, otherwise known as making a living…whether you are a hemp farmer or a corporate ex.

6) Know thyself! Being an entrepreneur or self-employed can be lucrative; but it is a risky, challenging, capital intensive, and a lonely path. Over 90% of small business endeavors will fail and be broke/in debt for loans and taxes within two years. It’s not for everyone, despite what social media would portray. They don’t call it the Shark Tank for nothing!


No mention of H1B programs which import foreign workers who fill jobs that American college graduates could fill, depriving millenials of the jobs they have been educated for.


Saving for an emergency fund and saving for retirement are two of the most important things millennials must do. I understand that this can be hard to do, especially if you don’t make enough money. But you can always start with smaller amounts. The trick is start saving, no matter how small.

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