4 Ways Generation Y Can Overcome the Recession

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Generation Y is freaking out over finances, according to new research. That's a good thing: Their concern might motivate them to start planning.

The financial future looks bleak from my generation’s point of view, at least according to new research from PNC.

Those aged 20 to 29, many of whom were welcomed into adulthood by the “Great Recession” of 2008, are (not surprisingly) very worried about money. PNC says only 18 percent expect to have enough saved to live comfortably in retirement.

Here are some of their other findings:

  • Only a third (34 percent) of 28- and 29-year-olds feel they have complete financial independence
  • Only a quarter of Gen Y (25 percent) feel ahead of expectations, while almost half (46 percent) feel behind
  • 85 percent of Gen Y is employed (57 percent claim part-time, 28 percent claim full-time)
  • 60 percent of Gen Y are determined to be independent soon
  • Parents (34 percent) and online research (28 percent) are their primary sources of financial info

The typical survey respondent was a white (73 percent) and unmarried (63 percent) college grad (64 percent). Along with this research, PNC offered some “money tips for millenials,” which I’ll expand on…

  1. Don’t panic.  Everybody’s struggling right now. Half of the Baby Boomer generation may not  have enough for retirement. But as PNC says, “Time is on your side.” You’ve got years to build your career, dig out of debt, and start saving or investing. The key is to not wait: Learn and commit to financial goals now. Plus, being young means you get to learn from your elders’ mistakes – take a look at Money Talks News founder and baby boomer Stacy Johnson’s 10 Dumbest Money Moves and avoid them.
  2. Avoid debt traps. Credit cards are not bad, and neither are student loans if they get you ahead in the long run. But paying them off slowly, particularly with high interest rates, certainly is. Aim for a low-interest card and use it regularly – but don’t spend what you don’t have, and pay off the balance in full every month. And don’t take out loans you don’t need. Learn more in 5 Top Credit Tips for College Students.
  3. Pay yourself first. This doesn’t mean treat yourself to nice things, which is OK in moderation. It means to pretend Future You is sending Present You a monthly bill just like your phone company. Saving whatever’s left at the end of the month only sounds smart until you realize there is never anything left at the end of the month. If your employer offers a 401k program, get in on it. If you want to invest yourself, learn what you need to know about stocks. If that’s too scary, find a way to get high-interest savings, like a CD. Although the returns are much lower, there’s no reason for anything you’re saving not to be earning at least a little interest.
  4. Budget and track spending. This is how to find out where you can save, and the best way to prevent overspending. Learn how to build a budget that works for you, and be meticulous about maintaining it. If you’re disorganized like me, your credit card and bank statements will come in handy, as will free finance tracking tools like Mint.com (which has a great app too).

The economy does look terrible right now, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But the people who should be most worried are the ones who didn’t plan ahead and are staring retirement in the face – the rest of us can learn from their mistakes, work hard, and save smart.

Stacy Johnson

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Read Next: Ask Stacy: What’s the Best Way to Borrow?

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