Millennials are living in hell trying to balance working constantly with a decent lifestyle and, truthfully, earning (way) less money than generations before us. How can we figure out how to save too?

We know that Millennials are putting off major life milestones, like getting married and entering the housing market, which means we are actually creating more time upfront to save moolah. Also, that Millennials are delaying ownership of stuff until we can truly afford what we want and not rely on leveraging debt to get it — it’s why the sharing economy is so huge.

But, contrary to popular belief, Millennials are actually incredibly focused on savings, in general, and for retirement. There has been no shortage of scare tactics proclaiming that Millennials aren’t saving enough for retirement (and will never, ever get to retire) but it has been found that Millennials purchase their first mutual funds at a younger age than Baby Boomers ever did.

The truth is, what Millennials want (and need) is a simple savings plan to execute — it’s why we like the process of ordering a ride from Uber and booking a fully-stocked apartment for our vacation.

Personally, I want to start saving for an investment property abroad in Spain or Mexico. If it’s going to be virtually impossible to enter the Toronto housing market over the next few years, why not invest in a home somewhere warm with a beach and plenty of sunshine?

But there is so much financial advice floating around that it’s tough to know who to listen to first. If I want to buy a house in Spain in 3 years or so without changing my lifestyle completely, I need to know where to start and how to keep it going.

I reached out to Andrew Kay, a financial advisor at RBC in Toronto to distill the very complicated subject of “saving money” into two rules to follow. All you need to remember are these two things:

  1. Budget a realistic and manageable amount of money for savings. The base for any savings plan should be a realistic budget; one that includes both essentials like housing and groceries, but also an allowance for things like dining out and entertainment. If building savings requires undue sacrifice to your lifestyle, the chances of following through are slim. I deleted Uber from my phone and started biking to work, easing up around $200 per month. 
  2. Build your plan around debt and investments. Check the interest rate on any loans and credit cards; while some like student loans have more manageable rates, others like credit cards should be cleared each billing cycle. Then looking at long term savings becomes a more viable option. You can work with an advisor to add the savings component to your plan and learn to make structured contributions to the right type of account based on goals, income, and on your ability to accept risk.” The $200 that I created by deleting Uber will pay off my credit card in a few months. After that, I can use the funds to save for my investment property in Spain. 

This advice is so simple and the truth is so clear: you can’t start saving until you clear your credit card debt.

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