Millennials need to think of themselves as Generation Invest.
These young Americans are often portrayed as having short attention spans and being unable to stay focused on anything longer than a Snapchat video. While this may be an unfair characterization for most, there's one area in life where millennials absolutely cannot afford to live up to this stereotype - planning for retirement.
This generation is living longer: Millennial men and women have a 27.3 percent and a 39.5 percent chance, respectively, of seeing their 90th birthdays. But with the uncertain future of entitlement programs like Social Security, it's crucial for Gen Y to start planning their financial futures and take advantage of all the time they have now to accommodate a long life ahead.
Here are five things millennials can start doing now to ensure they'll have enough money to live comfortably in their golden years.
1. Start investing, now
Millennials have a lot on their plates. Student loans, credit card debt and a higher cost of living make it easy to give up early on the idea of investing for the future. Luckily, there are numerous investment apps available to all consumers regardless of wallet size. All millennials need to do is commit to starting small and growing from there.
Time is money and millennials have a lot of time on their side to start building toward their future. The key is to start early and allocate however much money you feel comfortable setting aside for investing.
It isn't easy putting off instant gratification to save for a far-away date. But simply getting into the habit of investing and seeing one's portfolio accumulate more wealth as time goes on is a rewarding and empowering feeling.
2. Take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement plans
Employee benefits may be hard to understand but it's worth it to take the time and understand the offerings. Maximizing the benefits of an employer sponsored retirement account such as a 401(k) or a 403 (b) is one of the best and easiest financial habits a young professional can develop.
Millennials should understand the matching principals of these plans and start contributing even if it's just a small percentage at first. They needn't feel pressure to put too much in at first they can always adjust that percentage after every pay raise.
Often, millennials will opt-out of these plans early in their careers because they believe they need that money available to them. This is proof that they're not getting the education they need to see the longer-term benefits of compounding interest. Fewer than half of millennials - 48 percent - contribute to a 401(k) plan, according to a recent survey Stash conducted on American financial literacy. Not taking advantage of an employer-match is basically throwing free money out the window and no one wants to do that.
3. Develop a side hustle
We get it, life in the 21st century as a millennial is anything but cheap. Entire paychecks are allocated to food, rent and life's necessities. What our parents called getting a second job, millennials call a creative side-hustle. No matter what you call it or what it is, it can make a huge difference in your future finances.