Sharing Wealth: The Value of Your Financial Know-How

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Think back to your early adulthood—20s, early 30s—what a time it was. Whether that was a brief trip down memory lane, or a quick glance over your shoulder, compare your personal money sense then with your current financial savvy. Because honestly, just like manners and social graces, financial know-how is a learned, studied behavior. Yet, while circumstances dictate action—and we all know that circumstances vary—there’s always a kernel of truth to be found in the advice of others. Those who came before, those who forged their own financial success: It’s from these trailblazers that we learn. And lessons learned along their path—perhaps your path—are always relevant, and deserve to be shared.

According to media reports, this generation labeled “Millennial”—a group of folks somewhat hard to zero in on—have a tough go of it. Without the stability of yore, heavy financial decisions are being made more often by the individual, and not always for the best. Honestly though, this is understandable, even expected. What with the pressing burdens of daily life, especially for the younger, less established population, financial planning may not even be on their radar. If it is, it’s likely been relegated to a “back-burner” issue. Too often though, reality hits hard: The proverbial ‘everything else’ in life will never let up, never be fully handled. And despite the whirlwind that life can be, personal finances will always be high-priority. That’s why the time to worry about tomorrow’s finances is today—right now, in fact.

Let’s dig into this conundrum and see how you, the parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend or mentor can help. Let’s put your decades of financial experiences—both good and bad—to better use than ever: Helping future generations.

Figuring on Facts

So, these Millennials. Who are they? The jury’s not necessarily out, but certainly prone to argument. Basically, we’re talking about those who were around—but still ‘young’—at the turn of the millennium, which puts Millennials’ birth somewhere between 1981 and 1997, with some researchers extending the end-date to 2004. That’s a huge group of people, a few of whom are probably part of your circle of friends, family, or acquaintances.

But maybe you’re wondering, “Why all the fuss over this group? Haven’t finances always been hard to manage? Didn’t we have it rough too?” Well, yes—and no. Some of us have always had to ‘go it alone’ when it came to financial decisions. But never before have we seen the vast lack of company-sponsored pensions and ‘package-deal’ retirement plans, the overabundance of educated young people who just can’t find suitable employment. Not to mention constant turbulence from worldwide economic turmoil, and staggering levels of student debt. These factors coalesce to produce a generation of folks that have weighty financial burdens, without the safety of knowing that the ideal job is waiting to pay for it all. The tidal wave of financial responsibility can be crushing. Even if today’s taken care of, tomorrow, and tomorrow’s tomorrow are often left to ‘later.’ And whether that means putting off retirement savings, building an emergency fund, or saving for future college tuition, it’s a frightening situation.

The Ante’s Been Upped

So here’s your—our—charge: As an individual with some pull in your favorite Millennials’ lives, help to nudge them toward financial security and general ‘having-it-together’-ness. Focus on ‘to-dos,’ explain the ‘don’ts.’ After all, you’ve been there—the house, the kids, the bills. Yet you managed to see the forest—here you are, successfully navigating retirement, or looking forward to it. Granted, you had some expert help along the way, but the knowledge you’ve gained is a gift to be shared.

Here are some suggestions we stand behind.

Start up:

  • Take action. Saving and investing—even seemingly miniscule amounts—starts the compound interest ball rolling. And once that balls gets moving, it grows, and grows.
  • Invest in YOU. Paying yourself is an age-old principle for a reason: It makes sense. Redirect part of each paycheck—you can always cut a little off the top—to a savings or investment account.
  • Investigate options. If employer-sponsored plans are available, max those out! Contribute the full amount, and ask about additional savings vehicles.
  • Plan this. Putting numbers down on paper will give you a bird’s-eye view of your financial situation, and help you see ways to improve, adjust.

Keep up:

  • Regularity matters. Predictable contributions get the foundation and walls of your retirement account built solidly and quickly.
  • Be timely. Not only will on-time payments build credit, but they’ll be the pillars of your financial plan. Knowing the essentials, you can then structure your finances around what really matters, practically-speaking.
  • Face forward. Hard work and skill-building go far to create the life you hope for. Stay on the path.

Follow up:

  • Automate that. Get rid of the stress involved in possibly missing an important payment, and also stock money away without temptation.
  • Step away. Taking an objective look at your finances, at least bi-annually, can help you to see room for growth, or potential problem areas.
  • Talk to an expert. You’re an expert at what you do—why not entrust your life’s work to an expert of the financial stripe? You’ll lessen stress and pump up your monetary power.

Phew—That could seem like quite the laundry list. But it needn’t be overwhelming. Taken in stages, progress can be measurable, and encouraging: a catalyst to project personal finances upward and onward.

Sifting Wisdom

Admittedly, we’ve only offered a sampling of the vast storehouse of financial savvy that’s to be found. Personal tales and trials should factor in too—they help to color and flesh out otherwise cold, sterile figures. And here’s where experience gives you the right—and in this case, an obligation—to share accumulated knowledge. Because while there’s much advice to be had in the world, the best advice will always take personal concerns, plans and hopes into account. So why not encourage the Millennials in your life to start talking, learning, implementing. Because drawing from each other’s expertise is just plain smart. With all our heads together, you can be sure we’ll find the best way forward.

Securities offered thru Sterne Agee Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered thru Sterne Agee Investment Advisor Services, Inc. Securities and advisory activities supervised from 4407 Belmont Ave, Youngstown OH 44505, (800) 589-2023.