It's easy to rag on millennials as being lazy, entitled creatures who hemorrhage money on luxuries like fancy lattes and avocado toast. But actually, millennials may be more fiscally responsible than we all thought. Not only do 41% of millennials set aside money each month, but more millennials are saving for retirement than any other age group, including Gen Xers and baby boomers.
It's therefore not too surprising to learn that when it comes to immediate savings, 47% of millennials have $15,000 or more in the bank. And that's not too shabby considering that for many, that sum is enough to cover about three months of living expenses, which is what savers of all ages need at a minimum for emergencies.
But here's some even more positive news: A good 16% of millennials have $100,000 or more in savings. And that's pretty impressive, given that millennials don't have a ton of work history to show for and probably aren't earning the largest salaries out there.
So how do younger folks manage to amass such serious savings? It's simple: They set priorities and make smart choices. And you can, too.
Create a budget
The key to saving money is to have a budget in place, yet countless Americans fail to take this important and easy step. Millennials, however, may be leading the pack in this regard, with 73% claiming they follow a budget in general.
If you want to improve on the savings front, then the first thing you need to do is create a budget that maps out your monthly expenses. From there, you'll be able to see how much you're spending and where there's room for improvement.
The best part? Creating a budget is easy. Just list your various monthly expenses, factor in once-a-year expenses (like that insurance policy whose premium you pay annually), and compare your total to what your paychecks deliver. If the final numbers won't get you very far in terms of your savings goals, then you'll need to start cutting corners.
Keep your non-essential spending in check
We all have things we spend money on regularly that aren't critical to our wellbeing -- things like restaurant meals, pricey gadgets, and the convenience of car service when our legs are perfectly capable of taking us where we need to go. If you're looking to improve on the savings front, then you'll need to examine your budget and find ways to lower your spending. And the easiest place to start is your non-essentials.
Of course, there's another option, too: Cut one major expense, like rent, and continue buying the smaller luxuries you've come to enjoy. If you have the option to choose, go for it. However, if you're a homeowner, and your greatest monthly expense is your mortgage payment, slashing that bill is easier said than done, as it basically requires you to sell your property -- hardly the sort of change you can implement overnight. Therefore, it pays to focus on the things you're buying but don't really need.
Invest money you're not using
We all know we're supposed to invest our retirement nest egg so that it grows by the time we're ready to leave the workforce. But actually, it pays to invest any money you're not planning to use in the near future.
Now let's be clear: The stock market is absolutely the wrong place for your emergency savings. Rather, you need that money available in cash at all times. But if you're sitting on, say, $40,000, of which you only need $20,000 for emergencies, then it pays to invest the remaining $20,000 and grow it into a larger sum. For example, if you put the bulk of that cash in stocks, and those stocks give you an average annual 7% return (which is actually several points below the market's average), in five years' time, you'll be sitting on $28,000 -- and that's without contributing a penny more of your own money.
Of course, if you're saving to buy a home, or have other plans for that cash, then the stock market is the wrong place for it, just like it's the wrong place to house your emergency fund. But if you're simply looking to accumulate wealth, then investing will help you get there.
Though it's encouraging to see so many millennials saving at such an impressive rate, let's not forget that a large chunk of younger workers currently aren't setting money aside on the regular. If you're one of them, then it's time to change your ways. We all need money to cover emergencies, and we all have goals we're looking to meet. The sooner you start saving for both, the better off you'll be.