Millennial Realities & Myths: 12 Effective Steps To Building Wealth

Updated January 16, 2024
7 min read
Millennial Realities & Myths: 12 Effective Steps To Building Wealth

Millennials are caught between two incongruous realities: on the one hand, they are the most well-educated generation in history, but on the other, they are also the most indebted. While they are often praised for their entrepreneurial spirit and technological savvy, economic data reveals that millennials own businesses at a lower rate than prior generations.

Despite many challenges, millennials have a significant weapon in their arsenal — the ability to invest in themselves. Self-investment extends beyond mere allocation of money into retirement accounts like a 401(k) or an IRA. It includes acquiring knowledge about personal finance, investing, and making prudent choices such as eliminating high-interest debt and saving for long-term goals.

Navigating the complex terrains of wealth acquisition and financial fitness may seem daunting, but worry not. We've gathered twelve valuable pieces of advice to guide millennials on their journey to building wealth.

1. Get a college degree

While higher education isn't everyone's path, a college degree is a substantial wealth-building tool. A four-year degree alone can boost your lifetime earnings by about $1 million, while a graduate degree amplifies this further. Hence, investing the time and finances in obtaining a degree can significantly pay off.

2. Invest in yourself

Investing in personal development through continual education, skill acquisition, and prioritizing health can exponentially increase your earning potential and reduce future healthcare costs. As the world evolves rapidly, updating your skills can help you stay relevant in the job market. Additionally, prioritizing health — both physical and mental — not only enhances productivity and overall work performance but also substantially reduces potential future healthcare expenses. Given the complexities of navigating personal and occupational legal matters, finding a lawyer to provide guidance and legal counsel can further safeguard your personal and professional interests.

3. Live below your means

Acquiring wealth often requires disciplined, mindful spending. This doesn't require frugal living but ensuring your lifestyle doesn't outstrip your income. Growth in wealth usually starts with managing expenses well and then progresses to generating more income. By adopting a conscious, intentional approach to spending, one can shape financial habits that support rather than hinder wealth accumulation. Additionally, seeking ways to enhance income through career advancements, side gigs, or smart investments can further escalate the pace of wealth building.

4. Invest in assets, not liabilities

Assets generate income or appreciation over time, while liabilities lead to persistent outflows. Consider investing in assets that yield positive returns, such as stocks and real estate, or even starting your own business. Building a portfolio of diverse assets diversifies risk and increases the chance of recurring income and capital appreciation. Purchasing assets linked to your passions or skills can offer personal satisfaction and potential financial rewards.

5. Save early and often

Starting to save as early as possible works in your favor due to the magic of compound interest. This financial concept refers to the process where your initial investment grows with the interest earned on the principal and accumulates interest on previous earnings from interest. Extending your investment duration allows your money more time to increase (SEC.gov | An Introduction to 529 Plans). Thus, initiating investments in your 20s arms you with the advantage of extended compounding periods, enabling you to amass wealth quickly.

6. Diversify your investments

Spreading your money across different asset classes can blunt the financial impact if one investment loses value. Not only does this practice mitigate risks, but it also optimizes returns as other investments perform well at different times. It's important to remember that diversification involves finding a balance — the goal is a mix of investments that align with your risk tolerance and financial objectives. Furthermore, periodic rebalancing of your portfolio ensures that your investment stays aligned with your original risk profile, even as assets increase or decrease in value.

7. Have a plan

Outline financial goals and a structured strategy to achieve them. Persistence in saving and investment habits is critical. A strong plan guides you toward your financial goals and gives you a sense of direction and control over your finances. Moreover, seeing a clear path to your financial goals can boost motivation and increase your likelihood of staying committed to your plan, particularly during challenging times.

8. Invest in universal life insurance

This type of permanent life insurance offers cash value accumulation, offering a financial buffer for unforeseen events or retirement. It provides the reassuring comfort of knowing that, should unexpected events occur, your loved ones' economic well-being will be secured.

9. Leverage employer-sponsored retirement plans

Contributing to 401(k)s or 403(b)s offers tax advantages and, sometimes, employer-matching contributions. Besides, they are an easy and automatic way to ensure you consistently invest for your future.

10. Regular savings

Establishing various savings goals and starting early provides your money more time to grow. These savings can act as an emergency fund or be used for major purchases like a home or educational expenses. Moreover, having a pre-established fund for emergencies or large expenditures can significantly reduce financial stress and insecurity when these situations arise.

11. Invest in real estate

Investing in residential and commercial properties can yield substantial long-term returns. Furthermore, unlike other investments, you can leverage real estate investments using mortgages, magnifying your potential profits. Navigating these investments often necessitates using a Real Estate Purchase & Sale Agreement, which outlines the transaction terms and ensures both parties' rights and obligations are met during the property transfer.

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12. Hire a financial planner

A financial planner can offer personalized advice about budgeting, wise investment, and retirement savings. Working with a professional can provide reassurance and confidence in your financial decisions, reducing stress and freeing up time for other pursuits in life.

In conclusion, despite the economic pressures forced upon millennials, they possess vast potential for wealth accumulation. By focusing on self-investment, education, and making wise financial decisions, they can build a strong foundation for wealth creation. 

Furthermore, millennials can substantially grow their wealth by harnessing unique opportunities — such as technological advancements and the sharing economy — and consistently saving and investing. Despite the myriad of challenges this generation faces, a disciplined and strategic approach to personal finance can ensure they secure a prosperous financial future.

Disclaimer

Always consult a professional before making decisions affecting your financial well-being. The advice provided here is general and not tailored to specific individuals.

Article by
Brad Biren
Brad Biren is an American, gay, Jewish, autistic person and survivor of traumatic brain injury. Brad has an extensive knowledge base with a background in Elder and Tax law and a passion for estate planning & crisis Medicaid planning. One of Brad’s favorite parts of his job is Special Needs Planning—a financial and legal roadmap to help families of diversely-abled people cultivate greater opportunities for their children. Through his innovative and novel use of synergies between tax, law, finance, science, and technology, Brad has leveraged his autism and education to help others within the community. At Cornell University, Brad studied both landscape architecture and plant sciences. He moved to Iowa to attend the University of Iowa College of Law.  Later, Mr. Biren earned his LL.M. in Taxation from Washington University in St. Louis to enhance his expertise. Brad is passionate about working with businesses to show them that autistic people fuel innovation and optimization.