Millennials are often given terrible financial advice, and many high school and college students don’t know the first thing about personal finance. When I became friends with my good friend Neva, I observed the financial decisions she made and I was surprised to see a millennial making such fiscally responsible choices. Neva owned her first home, was already set for retirement, and was living debt-free – all at the young age of 23. I asked Neva to share her best financial advice for fellow millennials. Here’s what she said.
How did you learn about personal finance?
My dad taught me everything that he knows and continues to teach me. Also, I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It’s 13 weeks long and it’s a great and easy learning tool.
What’s the worst financial advice you’ve ever heard?
Go to college now and worry about the student loans later.
What kind of retirement plan do you have (401k, Roth, etc)? What advice do you have for young people on saving for retirement?
I have a 401(k) with my employer. If they match a certain percentage I would definitely put in as much, if not more, than your employer matches. I also have a Roth. I max it out every year. The max is $5,000. If you can’t max it out put in as much money as you can. The earlier you can save for retirement the better.
What advice do you have for a millennial who is considering purchasing a home? How do you feel about buying vs. renting?
I think purchasing a home is the ultimate investment, only if it’s not going to make you house poor. “House poor” is having a home but you are living paycheck to paycheck because you really cannot afford the home. Renting is just like throwing your money in the trash every single month. By paying that rent every single month it is not paying down a mortgage payment where eventually you will own something. Renting is not a good option.
How are you paying for college without taking out student loans? What would you tell someone who is considering taking out loans to pay for college?
I have a good job where I can put a lot of my paycheck towards paying for school. If you do not have a good job I would apply for financial aid and every single scholarship possible. If you still need more money, take a loan out from your parents [if you have that option]. That way you don’t have to pay interest on your student loans. If you already have student loan debt and you are done with school, I would find a part-time job along with your full-time job.
(Neva lived with her parents until she was 23, often worked 80 hours per week, and was able to save quite a bit of money. She then attended technical college for her associate’s degree in Management. Her associate’s degree was free because her step dad works for the school she attended. She now works part-time as a Recruiter and is attending school full-time for her bachelor’s degree. She is using the money she has in savings to pay for her bachelor’s degree.)
What is the best or most important financial advice you would give a millennial?
It really depends on the person and their current situation, but if I had to choose one thing it would be to take the first two years of college at a community or technical college. It is so much cheaper and you can live at home, then go to a four year college to get your bachelor’s.
How do you feel about credit cards? What advice would you give to a young person about credit cards?
I think one credit card per person is great! The thing with credit cards is that you need to pay the full amount every single month. If you do not pay it every single month, then it is a horrible thing. I think a younger person needs to be aware of what they are spending and if they know that they cannot afford that purchase they should not buy it. To someone with credit card debt, they need to do everything in their power to pay it off immediately. That may mean no eating out for a month, getting a second job, or any way to save or make more money. They need to do whatever they can to pay that off because the interest rate will make you pay more in the long run and that is never a good option.
Do you splurge on anything? If so, what things do you feel are worth splurging on?
I believe everyone should be able to splurge on things from time to time. For every single person what they splurge on is going to be different. To me I love eating out so that is what I spend money on. Someone may like shopping or coffee or something else. So it is allowed every once in a while and not all the time.
I would say a great thing to splurge on would be financial classes or anything that will help you improve yourself or something that will push you forward in your career.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to spend time with my family and friends. It really does not matter to me what we do as long as we are together. If you are paying off debt yourself or you have a friend who is trying to pay off student loans and does not want to spend that much I would say have game nights at someone’s home and find free or cheap activities. There are a ton of inexpensive things to do.
Neva currently works as a Recruiter and is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in HR Management. Neva enjoys rock climbing, salsa dancing, and horseback riding. Neva has two pets, a dog named Hank and a horse named Charlie.
Other stuff you might like:
7 Myths About Frugality that You Need to Stop Believing
How to Pay Off Your Student Loans by Volunteering
Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started College
Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Graduate School
20 Free Things to do This Weekend
Landing the Job, Part 1: Job Search
Let’s Stop Rewarding Ourselves with Excess
Hey! I know her! Super inspiring! :)
She’s pretty awesome! Her influence was a major part of why I decided to start making better financial choices.
Thanks for the comment! I agree. In general, I think buying is a better decision than renting, but there may be times when it makes more sense to rent rather than buying.
Wow, what an impressive person Neva is! Congrats on having your finances in such good order at a young age! I’d disagree on the buy-vs-own question, just in that it’s not always that straightforward, and there are tons of costs and lost opportunities that come with owning. But kudos for being able to buy a place so young.