- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 1, 2015

With a new year kicking off, certified financial planner Wendy Weaver says now is the time for millennials to begin considering their financial future and how to get there.

“People talk about living within your means, but you should actually be living below your means,” Weaver says, explaining that when setting up a financial plan in 2015, the first thing to think about is a savings plan and an emergency fund, which should be three to six months of expenses set aside.

Ms. Weaver suggests saving at least $50 each month for millennials — “even if you have to start with what feels like small, starting with something is the most important thing.”

According to a Nationwide investor-behavior survey three out of five consumers have a financial plan, but millennials believe they are only saving half of what they need to be for retirement. For example, millennials believe they need roughly $110,000 a year to live comfortably during retirement — $30,000 more than what current retirees say they can live comfortably on.

One reason millennials might stress about saving is school loans. Student debt has increased nationally 84 percent since 2008, with a record 40 million Americans on the hook for such loans.

But, Ms. Weaver warns, “you should continue to save because you want to break the cycle of debt.”

Cristin Sturchio global head of talent at Cognolink, a research company connecting investors to critical intelligence, says a common mistake millennials make when mulling a job offer is focusing on the base salary without looking at the total package.

“There are several other factors that should play a role in your acceptance of the job, and will help towards your budgeting plans,” Ms. Sturchio says, citing health insurance, paid time off, cash rewards, and a retirement program as important details when considering a job offer.

She added when it comes to these factors, millennials should ask themselves, “‘can I afford not to take this job?’”

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