Aspiration & Struggle

Managing Personal Finances: How 3 Millennials Overcame Their Financial Struggles

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It’s no secret that the Millennial generation came of age during a tough economic climate. Many of us graduated high school right in the middle of the Great Recession, at a time when the cost of college has never been higher. Because of this challenging start, Millennials continue to struggle with managing personal finances.

Financial problems don’t need to be the status quo. Many people are finding paths to financial stability as they work to overcome money issues that previously held them back. Whether tackling unemployment, piles of student loan debt, low income, or a combination of all three major roadblocks, these 20- and 30-somethings took control of their financial situations.

Surviving Unemployment

“I believed I was ready for the real world when I walked across the stage and accepted my college degree,” says Lindsey Carlton. Today, Lindsey is the managing editor for Coupons Daily, but she used to work at a job that affected both her mental and physical well-being. “My first job was horrible,” she explains. “Because it was my first real job, I thought all jobs were like that.”

Lindsey stayed on for three months before she quit. She then found herself with a pile of expenses and no paycheck to handle them. Fortunately, after two months of unemployment, she received a job offer that proved to be a much better fit than her first job.

“Looking back, those two months of economic hard times taught me so much about myself. I learned how to become a frugal spender and make what little money I had work,” says Lindsey. The experience taught her the importance of always saving, how to find alternate sources of income instead of relying on just one, and the power of staying positive in the face of adversity.

Paying Down Debt

Zina Kumok faced a big challenge: $28,000 worth of student loan debt to repay, and an income of no more than $30,000 per year. Despite the seemingly insurmountable numbers, she set a goal to pay off her debt within three years.

Zina started with baby steps, at first paying only an extra $10 per month on her loans. “That still shaved one year off my total 10-year term,” she says. She continued trimming her expenses so that she could allocate more cash each month to her loans. “I cut Hulu and started sharing a Netflix account with my parents. I also cut my alcohol budget and tried to limit my grocery expenses,” she explains.

She aimed for bigger cuts next, including reducing her rent from more than 30 percent of her take-home pay to just 14 percent. “I was able to do this by moving in with my then-boyfriend and a friend of ours, ” she says. “We still live together, and it’s made a huge difference in our budgets.” Freeing up this cash for debt repayment made a huge difference.

Boosting Income

Jordann Brown also faced debt. At first, she reduced her expenses to “the absolute minimum.” But after taking this step, there was nothing left to cut. It was time to start earning more.

She asked her employer for a raise and was rewarded with a 10 percent pay bump. She later switched jobs, this time raising her salary by 11 percent. She wasn’t done, however. Jordann also started a side hustle, using her blog as a platform to find freelancing gigs. This way, she was able to have a bigger say in where she directed her cash.

Managing personal finances may be difficult for many Millennials, but these three Gen Yers prove that taking action is the first step toward overcoming obstacles. Take a page from their books and make changes to improve your life.

Kali Hawlk is a financial writer and the marketing manager for XY Planning Network. She is passionate about helping others do more with their money, their careers, and their lives. You can find her on Twitter @KaliHawlk.