What Gen Z can learn from millennials’ money mistakes

Rose Hansen

The jokes about millennials being perpetual children are aging about as quickly as millennials themselves.The geriatric among us were already working (or trying to) when the Great Recession hit. And now, some of the eldest members of Generation Z are taking those first wobbly baby deer steps into an uncertain […]

The jokes about millennials being perpetual children are aging about as quickly as millennials themselves.The geriatric among us were already working (or trying to) when the Great Recession hit. And now, some of the eldest members of Generation Z are taking those first wobbly baby deer steps into an uncertain pandemic-era economy. Listen, Gen Z, we want to help. Time flies, so listen up.

Start now. Laying a good financial foundation isn’t one of those tasks you can put off until later. It’s easier to start when you’re younger.

“The sooner you get your financial [act] together, the less you’ll have to compromise,” says Priya Malani, founder and CEO of Stash Wealth, a financial advisory firm based in Charlotte, N.C.

If you feel overwhelmed, don’t wait to get help. Thanks to our recent embrace of virtual meetings, it’s never been easier to connect with a financial adviser. And they are available at a variety of price points.

Responsibly embrace credit cards. Building your credit history opens up a lot of possibilities, and credit cards are often a way to get started thanks to their relatively easy application processes.

With good or excellent credit scores, you have better odds of qualifying for more rewarding travel or cash-back credit cards, or loans with lower interest rates, which can save you a lot of money on a future car or home purchase. But to attain good credit (corresponding to a FICO score of 690 or higher), you need to understand how credit cards work, so you can pick a card that’s well-matched to your current situation and use the card carefully.

Malani recommends thinking of your credit card like a debit card that deducts money from your checking account once a month. “You’re using someone else’s money,” she says. “Using it to enhance your lifestyle is the wrong way to think about it, and that’s where people get into trouble.”

Save for retirement and the short-term, too. Yes, saving for retirement is important, but with probably 40-ish years to go until you retire, you also need to save for short- and medium-term goals along the way.

You don’t want to have to wait until you’re in your late 60s to enjoy yourself. And I’m not just talking about big stuff like buying a house. It’s also hiring professional house cleaners, signing up your kid for the soccer team and getting adult braces. (Trust me when I say that the house cleaning is worth it.)

E-mail: [email protected]

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