Turn Your Money Mistakes Into Opportunities

(VIDEO) Millennials are the smart, “now” generation, connected and savvy about consuming everything from the latest form of data to the hippest food. Alas, when it comes to handling the money side of their life, they are making critical mistakes.

It’s hard to admit to making mistakes. Moreover, it’s sometimes harder to know when you are making mistakes-especially as a Millennial. The good news is Millennials can learn from these mistakes and make smart money choices.

Mistake #1: Leaving Money On The Table

Like it or not, Millennials may not be able to count on Social Security in their old age. This means that 401(k) accounts are probably going to be the foundation for their retirement savings. Unfortunately, in many cases, they are not taking advantage of this benefit.

According to a study by T. Rowe Price Retirement Plan Services, as reported by Bloomberg, “When left to their own devices, just 30 percent of young workers get around to signing themselves up for their 401(k) plans.” This “paperwork paralysis” is so dire, many companies have begun to automatically sign their workers up for their 401(k) plans. The workers can opt-out, but when the choice has been made for them, “Among 20-something workers, 84 percent go along with being auto-enrolled in a 401(k) plan.”

This is reminiscent of an old joke about a guy praying to win the lottery. Day after day he prayed to G-d to let him win. Finally, after complaining that his prayers were not working, he heard a voice say, “Help me out and at least buy a lottery ticket.” The moral of this story is; at least participate in the 401(k) plan. These retirement savings plans may not cover all your future needs, but it is a good start.

Mistake #2: Setting A Goal To Make Money, Instead Of Following Your Passion

I’ve heard so many young people say their goal is to make money. That is not a goal. And, if it is, what does that do for you? You may find yourself just chasing after something that will not give you fulfillment, only to then wake up as an older person and say, “What was that all about?” We all know that rich people are not happier than poor people. (And, please note that I’m not talking about people living in abject poverty.)

Create your work life around your passions. Those passions will help you to get out of bed every day to experience the joy of work. Yes, the joy! Not every day will be wonderful; however, if you are working with people who share your values and for a company who is “walking-the-walk” that you believe in, the money will follow. You also know that no matter how much you earn, it’s always about the balance between saving, sharing, and spending that will make the difference.

Mistake #3: Not Saving And Investing Enough

I know that Millennials are strapped with college debt. I know that they may still be underemployed and living at home because living on their own is just too expensive. The sad truth is that they are simply not planning for the future. CNBC reported on a 2016 GOBankingRates survey, which noted, “… 72% (of Millennials) have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 31% have $0. A sliver (8%) has over $10,000 saved.” You don’t have to be a financial genius to figure out that Millennials are living beyond their means.

The future will become the “now” and many Millennials may even be having their own offspring at this point. One of their goals may be to send those kids to college someday. The numbers are scary. According to JPMorgan’s College Calculator projections, if you have a baby today, it will cost about $455,585 to send that child to a four-year private college and $202,768 to a public college.

Mistake #4: Making The Quick Buck

Millennials, who are social media hounds, are flocking to sites that offer “mavens,” who share their hot stock tips. WallStreetBets, a Reddit forum is one of those places. The truth is that the majority of day traders lose money. It looks cool and easy to make money, but according to Investopedia, “The success rate for day traders is estimated to be around only 10%...” By the time you hear about the hot deal, the market has already adjusted for it.

I don’t care what generation you are from. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Day trading is just another form of playing the lottery, betting or gambling. I am not a proponent of any of these forms of investing for your future. Millennials need to focus on long-term investing, even if they only can devote small sums of money. They can do it from their mobile devices; the way they are comfortable conducting so much of their interaction. The excuse that they don’t have enough to start investing no longer exists.

I advise a fintech company called, DriveWealth. They are a broker-dealer, which allows investors to not only start with small sums of money, but also buy fractions of company shares. The investor can put a toe-in-the-investing water and buy stocks they know, and not bet on the ones they don’t. There is no magic bullet. Buy stocks of the company whose products you know, trust, and use. You know more than you think. What mobile devices do you use? Computers? Clothing? You get the point. This is a perfect place to start building your portfolio and making investing a regular part of your life.

We all make mistakes, and as Oscar Wilde put it, “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” I like the words of Neil Gaiman, the English author, as well, “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”

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