12 Financial Questions All Millennials Should Be Asking Each Other
Millennials need to start talking about money.
We talk about everything else at this point.
Scroll through any feed you have, and you’ll see people complaining about their relationships (or lack thereof), articles about new sexual positions to try, someone you went to high school with saying something mildly racist, defenders of guns, people against guns and the list goes on.
How did salary become the only thing we’re not allowed to talk about?
Are you in credit card debt? How did you deal with it? Does it all stem back to that free t-shirt from freshman year?
When I was 18, I racked up debt, but thankfully I had a small limit.
I had to figure out, on my own, what balance transfers were, how grace periods work, how valuable 0 percent interest is and just how awesome an 800 credit score feels.
It would have been great if someone stopped me from treating all my friends to dinner, or if someone just told me to not spend up to my credit limit.
Next time you’re out to lunch with a friend you trust, and she whips out her credit card to split the bill, ask how she likes the card. Then, you can slowly ease that into a conversation about your current or previous debt.
Just because you got out of debt before, doesn’t mean you won’t relapse. Know you have said friend around for support.
Are you saving for retirement? Are you taking advantage of the company match? Have you figured out what a Roth IRA is?
Now that I’m older, I’m one of those weird people who gets all warm and fuzzy when I save money. It’s like a runner’s high, but without all the sweat.
Allocating money into my 401(k), Roth IRA and savings account is the highlight of my week. But for most of my friends, it's not the case. I’ve taken it upon myself to be the nagging friend who tells them to take the free money their employers are offering up.
In your 20s, saving for retirement seems ludicrous, especially when you have crippling student loans, rent you can barely afford and you’re still borrowing a friend’s Netflix password. But the power of compound interest is too good to pass up.
Even if you’re not comfortable investing quite yet, it’s nice to have that one friend who is. View her as your aspirational goal. This is a good convo to have with someone higher up than you at work, but only by two or three years.
Learn from her, ask how much she's putting away and how much she's investing and where. Before you know it, you’ll be compounding interest like a pro!
How much was your mortgage? What exactly are closing costs? Is it insane to make a 30-year commitment when you’re 25?
I’m at that point in my life where some people are buying houses, while others can barely afford their bottomless mimosas. So, we’re all pretty confused.
Since undergrad, I’ve been told buying is cheaper than renting. But why give it up for doing your own plumbing and a novel-sized stack of paperwork?
The “cheaper to buy than rent” philosophy would mean a lot more to me coming from people who actually did it. Mortgage calculators, PMIs, scrounging together a year’s worth of rent, surprise HOA fees and trying to figure out if you should work on saving 20 percent is a lot to consider, especially when it's all coming from anonymous Internet users.
Talk to your friends, talk to your parents and talk to your boss over a casual Friday lunch. Get as much info as they’re willing to share.
How much do you make? How much of that goes to taxes? How do you know if you’re filling out your W4 right?
First of all, is there some class where they teach you how to properly fill that out a W4?
Anyway, this is a big deal for most people. People do not want to disclose how much they make, even if their salaries are already public information.
Why is that? People worry they’re underpaid, and their friends will judge or pity them. Those who feel they're overpaid believe their friends will ask to borrow money, or they will resent them.
We all need to get over these fears. I’m not saying you should slap your salary on the side of a truck, but you should disclose it to people you trust, especially coworkers.
Why? Because if you’re unhappy with your salary, you need to figure out what your earning potential can be, or if you should ask for more during negotiations. If you’re happy with your compensation, you can be an advocate for someone you think deserves more.
As one of those people whose salary is public information, I’m always checking out coworkers' salaries and scoping out their LinkedIn pages to see what skills I need to get me to that next level.
I also take the opportunity to chat with friends about our salaries. That way, we know what student loan programs to take advantage of and what tax credits we should plan for.
So, why talk about money? It’s those little conversations (How much extra are you paying for HBO? How are those travel points working for you? How much is your car insurance?) that open the doors up for the bigger ones.
(I’m turning 26, and I have no idea how much my health insurance is going to cost. I have $90,000 in student loan debt, and I’m not sure how I’m going to pay it off. I don’t think we’ll ever be financially stable enough to have a kid.)
That’s what friends are for.