MADE by Ashley White

We’re in the second quarter of 2017 and if you’ve fallen off your goal to get your money right, it’s not too late to get back on track. Tonya Rapley, CEO of My Fab Finance, breaks down the 5 most common mistakes millennials make with their money and how to counteract those unhealthy financial habits.

Mistake #1: Prioritizing the needs or expectations of others above your own.

“This means not creating boundaries when it comes to loaning family members and friends money, and in a sense, sabotaging your own financial goals to make other people happy. That could also mean not sitting out on a birthday celebration because you don’t have the money or instead of acting in your own interest you take other people’s feelings or concerns into consideration first.”

How to break this habit:

“Really get comfortable with saying no—saying no or offering an alternative solution. Just because you can’t go to someone’s birthday celebration, doesn’t mean you can’t invite them to your house and you cook dinner and watch a movie together. Find ways to still support your friends and still support your social life to achieve your financial goals.”

Mistake #2: Estimating your money instead of understanding exactly what you have.

“That can include student loan debt and it can include salary too. A lot of people will get paid, but they won’t look into their account to make sure they got paid the exact amount their supposed to get biweekly. This is necessary so you can ask questions if your check is short. Know what your financial situation is from income to expenses to debt payments.”

How to break this habit:

“Check your account balance daily. Also, check your longer-term accounts quarterly. Do regular financial check-ins so that can be weekly, monthly, quarterly. You should be checking your primary checking account daily.”

Mistake #3: Allowing social buzz to influence your financial decisions.

“A lot people who never even invested before were jumping on the Snapchat IPO (Initial Public Offering) because everyone was excited about it. They invested in Snapchat because people are using the app, but without understanding how IPOs usually go and understanding that they would probably take a loss based on that initial offering price. That also applies to influencers in that [social media] space and understanding that influencers are compensated for recommending a product, so that may not necessarily mean the product works for you.”

How to break this habit:

“Pull back and talk to experts or someone who knows more about the space. Do your research. There were a lot of articles about the Snapchat IPO and seasoned investors were talking about why they weren’t excited about Snapchat’s IPO and why they weren’t going to invest in it. Before investing, pull back from the social media hoopla and look for people on the other side of the argument (which you can do via social media) or talk to a financial professional.”

Mistake #4 Not investing in your future as soon as possible.

You’re never too young to start investing in your future. In fact, the earlier you start, the more money you’ll save. “That could mean getting a life insurance policy while your premiums are significantly low, contributing to your company’s 401K programs, or just different things that will be less expensive while you’re younger so that you can take advantage of that pricing at that time,” advises Rapley.

How to break this habit:

“If you aren’t currently contributing to your company’s 401k program, talk to your HR professional and see if they have one, do they match and how you can contribute to it. If you don’t currently have a life insurance policy, you can go to policygenius.com and comparison shop life insurance policy premiums.”

Mistake #5 Obsessing over one point in your financial journey instead of the entire picture.

“I find that millennials obsess over their student loan debt, but they don’t have any money in savings. Or they obsess over their credit score, but they don’t have any money in savings. Or they obsess over their money in savings, but they don’t have a realistic budget or know if they’re living at or within their boundaries.”

How to break this:

“Do a financial assessment. Determine what your long-term goals are and if your financial situation is going to lend to you achieving those long-term goals or if there are certain things you need to get together. If you want to buy a home, it’s not just one goal. A home is not just about your credit score. A home is about your savings, how much money you have available for a down payment and your financial means to make the payments. None of your financial decisions are ever in a container and most of your goals aren’t going to be in a container. Figure out what financial aspects of your life need attention to achieve your goals.”

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If you think the task of tackling your finances is daunting, Rapley’s advice is simple: “You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be committed.” The key in moving toward financial freedom is making a commitment to change your mindset about money and doing the work.

“A lot of us get derailed and say, “It’s not perfect, so I’m just not going to do it,” instead of realizing that you create action by moving forward. It’s not about waiting for the perfect moment because the perfect time rarely arises. Be committed and say ‘I’m going to find a way instead of waiting for a way to be revealed to me.’ Instead of being stagnant, you’re moving toward your goal. That also includes education. Too many people don’t get involved because they think they don’t know enough, but there’s so many lessons in doing instead of waiting on the sidelines.”