A few weeks ago I was leading a wealth seminar for a dozen women, all between the ages of 40-55. They were successful entrepreneurs, businesswomen with decades of experience and between them, thousands of contacts.
During one of our roundtable discussions, I was struck by the uniform agreement of how isolated they said they felt. Most of their friends didn't understand what they were going through while building and running successful ventures and they shouldered most of the load alone.
I was struck by two immediate thoughts:
-That's a sad price to pay for success
-Perhaps they'll be the last generation of entrepreneurs that feels that way
I was asked by MoneyTips.com to take part in their Millennial Next Door Revealed: How to Be Financially Successful In Your 20s" survey and as I was doing research and looking at the results of the survey, I was blown away by the way millennials approached life, business and finances.
"A millennial has the flexibility and resources today to really create what they define as success," said Chelsea Krost, a leading millennial voice and host of the hugely popular #MillennialTalk Twitter chats.
Millennials are open to the possibilities of life. They watched their parents work for others for decades, and view that lifestyle as a mistake. The idea of a five-day-a-week 9-to-5 job is an anathema. They want the freedom to carve their destiny.
Millennials are striking out and trying to make it on their own. But unlike the aforementioned previous generation, they aren't going at it alone. They are building communities, mentoring each other and offering assistance and advice. They believe in networking and supporting each other's projects in the hopes of everyone attaining riches.
That success doesn't come without obstacles.
They are the most educated generation in history. But they are also deeper in student debt than any previous generation, to the tune of more than $1 trillion dollars.
You'd think this financial hardship would handcuff their dreams and limit their opportunities. And 30% of successful millennials say student loan debt has impacted their ability to be financially independent or successful.
But the other 70%? Well, it's just a way of life. When I counsel millennials, I hear over and over again that student debt is just something they knew they would deal with, the cost of doing business. They aren't going to roll over and take a job they hate just to pay the bills. That's not in their DNA.
Millennials watched their parents overspend on houses, cars and collecting material possessions and are determined to go in the other direction. They are motivated more by experiences than by stuff, which thrills me from a wealth perspective.
On the whole, they are also changing their approach to finance. Their education extends far beyond the classroom. The MoneyTips.com Millennial Next Door survey showed the No. 1 misstep successful millennials have made is taking on too much consumer debt. No. 2 is spending frivolously.
Both can be avoided if you keep living like a college student long after you put down the books. One of the tips I'll be giving millennials during the chat is to act as though they never left college.
No, I'm not suggesting late night keggers on a Tuesday or showing up to work in yesterday's clothes. And certainly not suggesting they go home every time they have to do laundry, though that's not the worst idea if they save the quarters.
With 71% of millennials paying for at least some of their own education, it means they are used to living on a shoestring budget. As they start their first jobs and start seeing real paychecks, the inclination is to spend, buy, party.
Don't do that!
I advise recent graduates to continue to live financially like they did in college. What most millennials don't seem to realize is that they've already lived off a budget even if they didn't actually write one down. They lived frugally. They stayed away from overspending. They made sacrifices.
Now out of school, ask yourself: how little can do you need to get by? Are you going to live more frugally and carefully or go whole hog and spend it all?
But if they can stay on that budget, they won't be ruled by money and will give themselves the opportunity to follow their dreams as entrepreneurs.
What else can millennials do to ensure they find longterm financial happiness?
By Leisa Peterson
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which course of action may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.
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