Get Your Debt in Check

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While reports show that young adults aren’t racking up credit card debt, they are in fact failing to save and are unaware of how detrimental their student loans are to their livelihood. 

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This is a song I am all too familiar with. A week after I said “I do” to my husband I walked into Money Management International and asked for help getting my credit on track. I was worse off than most with both credit and student loan debt.  My goal was to get my credit score back up so my husband and I could eventually buy a house. It took me five years and some belt tightening, but I was finally able to obtain a credit score that didn’t make me blush.

According to the Department of Education more than 40 percent of Americans who borrowed from the government’s student loan program are not making payments or are behind. In another study, 40 percent of millennials reported they don’t have a retirement income strategy in place and 57 percent report they haven’t begun saving yet.

To help the future of tomorrow get better at budgeting, paying off debt and saving, Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest offers the following tips:

Be Precise with Budgets

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Your budget should include more than just rent, utilities, phone bill and insurance. Create a detailed list of the things you spend money on and things you would like to spend money on in the future. For example, be sure to put money away for clothes, haircuts, gas, groceries, medical, credit cards, entertainment and vacation. It might be scary to see your money quickly disappear when disseminated, but it will also leave you prepared when you start a new job and suddenly need a new suit and haircut.

Start Saving Now

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If you’re already living paycheck to paycheck it might be difficult to imagine putting money away into savings, but even a little bit counts. Start with the smallest amount you can manage and then slowly increase the number as you start to become more accustomed to living on a fixed income.

Get Debt Help

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If you need help consolidating your debt or creating payment plans remember there is help out there. And some of it is free. When I got married I was in the process of paying off two collection agencies. After speaking with a representative at MMI I got the amounts lowered and only had to send one check each month. Because I was able to consistently make payments I was able to pay off the debt in no time.

Be wary of someone offering to help you consolidate your debt for a “one-time fee.” Many nonprofit debt counseling agencies can you help for free.

To learn more about debt management visit bbb.org/credit-management.

Military Millennials: What’s Your Emergency Savings Tactical Mission Plan?

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Written by guest blogger Letty Stevens, AFC®

Millennial servicemembers, do you have an emergency savings SMEAC? Whether you’re just building emergency savings or adding to it, here’s a basic emergency savings tactical mission plan for you to use today. When you have a plan, it’s easier to save.

S: Situation

M: Mission

E: Execution

A: Administration and logistics

C: Command signal (terms, code and signals)

SITUATION: If you are not saving a percentage of each paycheck to create an emergency savings account and to save for your financial goals, you may have a serious situation on your hands. What stops someone from saving up for his or her financial goals? Let’s think about this. The opposite of saving is spending, and you are surrounded by this enemy every day. This enemy is highly trained in the marketing of its product. When you go into a grocery store, you are the target.

From the music you hear to the colors you see, everything is strategically implemented to get you to spend your hard earned money. Even Harvard contributes to the science of marketing. It’s no wonder so many people are in debt!

MISSION: The mission of Military Saves is to help you reduce debt and build long-term wealth through financial action. So, how do we learn to do this?

  • Reading: It is best to learn from those who are succeeding at financial management. Reading about financial management is a good start. You are reading this article, so we can check that box.
  • Speaking: Make talking about your finances a healthy conversation by focusing on goals. But who can you talk with? Who do you trust enough to speak freely about something as personal as your finances? If you are married, please start the conversation with your spouse. I reference this list before speaking with my spouse about our finances. If you are having a hard time speaking with your spouse about your finances, you can always get free assistance from financial professionals on your installation. Military OneSource also has financial counselors available, and they are just a phone call away.
  • Doing: This situation requires a plan. A financial plan is unique to the individual because it often depends on what you value. What do you value? When you know what your values are, you can easily identify where you want your money to go and, more importantly, where the financial holes are. This is the beginning of a budget. The younger you start learning, the more you can save.
  • Teaching: It is our parents who provide the foundation for our adult lives. Unfortunately, not everyone learns good money habits from their parents. If this is the case, teach yourself. Newly married couples teach each other. Parents, teach your children.

EXECUTION: Start the conversation today! The sooner you begin reading and talking about savings, the sooner you can start to change your behavior to line up with your financial goals. What percentage of your pay can you save per paycheck? When will you set up that automatic savings deposit at the bank? Who is your buddy who will hold you accountable? You have a stable paycheck and numerous resources to help you along as you create your financial plan and work on your financial goals.

ADMINISTRATION: You are the sole administrator of your finances. When a married servicemember deploys, the spouse often becomes the administrator. Should you seek expert advice, again the free financial counseling found on your installation is the way to go.

COMMAND/ SIGNAL: You are a confident servicemember. Are you confident that you can reduce your spending and increase your saving? Since you’ve already started by reading this blog, you should be confident. Keep reading, keep learning and keep saving.

Set a goal. Make a plan. Save automatically.

Say Hello to Generation Z

If your business is working hard to attract Millennials, then prepare yourself for another demographic to consider.

Meet Generation Z. Generation Z refers to anyone born between 1995 and 2010.

Millennials may be running the workforce now, but soon they’ll be doing their best to market to a new generation. If you really want to plan for the future, you should start looking at how you’re going to make customers, or even potential employees, out of kids still in high school.

Here are some important things to keep in mind when targeting Gen Z.

They Want to Be the Boss

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According to a survey conducted by the research firm Universum 55 percent of Gen Z-ers have considered starting their own company. They are following in the footsteps of Millennials who have been successful with startups such as Uber, Airbnb and Facebook. They’ve seen the generation before them build empires and they want desperately to do the same. So you should ask yourself “How can my business be of service to these budding entrepreneurs?”

Technology is Second Nature

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Forget second nature, for these kids technology is quickly becoming “human nature.”

A study conducted by the Center for Generational Kinetics found that the Gen Z group is four times more likely than millennials or baby boomers to think it’s appropriate to get your first cell phone at age 13. What’s more, a study conducted by the J. Walter Thompson Intelligence company in 2012 found kids between the ages of 13 – 17 valued their internet connection more than going to the movies or having cable TV. This reveals just how much this generation relies on being virtually connected. When they communicate it is typically with text message or messaging apps that delete the conversation. Think Snapchat. They love Snapchat and they know how to use it better than anyone else. If your business is looking to recruit this demographic early Snapchat is a great place to start.

How They Spend Their Money

Or, how they spend their parent’s money. Whether they are working an after school job or given an allowance, Gen Z is spending a lot of money. And they are doing most of it online. These young adults aren’t afraid of making purchases with their cell phones or even doing shopping on social networking sites. If your business hasn’t already gone mobile —you should start now.

They Have a Heart

If millennials are “Generation Me,” then consider this age group “Generation We.” Research has shown them to be an altruistic bunch, believing they have what it takes to change the world for the better.  What’s more, studies show they are more likely to support businesses that give back to the community. According to the JWT study, they are interested in global social changes such as poverty reduction, clean water and racial/gender inequity. It seems they want to align themselves with companies that have a moral standpoint.

So as you can see, if your business has its own ethical standards, like BBB Accredited Businesses are required to, you are more likely to appeal to Generation Z.

Learn more about this fascinating group by reading this study conducted by Robert Half.

Mentoring Millennials

Written by Veronica Craker, Managing Editor & Writer

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Determining the proper way to train and lead a millennial is a common concern for many business owners. How do you hire and retain the generation that grew up so different from your own? Before we take a deeper look at the millennial worker we must first identify who millennials are exactly.

Millennials were born between 1980 and 1995. They watch YouTube videos on iPads, they use multiple social media sites and prefer talking via text message. Studies have shown they aren’t too keen on leaving voicemails.

And for the past decade or so millennials have been given a bad rap. Some call them the “We Generation” believing them to be lazy and entitled. But that isn’t always the case. In fact, members of the millennial age group have shown great leadership and entrepreneurial skills. They are the generation that brought us Facebook, Dropbox, Blue Apron and even Airbnb.

It is important to remember that this young group of scrappy go-getters aren’t just entering the workforce —they are the workforce. According to a survey conducted by PayScale.com, they account for 45 percent of the workforce. In comparison, Baby Boomers account for 31 percent and Generation X’ers (those born between 1961 and 1979) make up only 21 percent. The final three percent comes from the Silent Generation, which are seniors 68 years and older.

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So how are these different groups with different life experiences supposed to work well together? Let’s begin by taking a look at some common problems that arise when hiring a millennial and how you can remedy the issue.

One-on-one Training

The problem: They’re green. Or to use a term millennials are more comfortable with —they’re “newbs.” They might have a few years of real work experience under their belt, but it can’t hold a candle to the 20 or so years many of their colleagues have.

The Fix: Tit for Tat mentoring. Find a seasoned team member you can partner them with as part of a mentorship program. Choose someone whose opinion you value, but who doesn’t work in the same department as your new hire. It needs to be someone the millennial can learn from, but also isn’t afraid to make mistakes in front of. Mentoring doesn’t have to be one-sided. Allow the millennial to teach their “mentor” a few new things and both employees will benefit from the experience.

Being Supportive

The problem: They need constant reassurance. This is the generation where everyone got a participation trophy and were constantly being told how “special” they are. So what happens when they are no longer shining stars? Will they be able to handle the stress of balancing work life and personal life?

The fix: Look, we can’t all be Beyoncé. However, millennials aren’t alone in wanting an “attaboy.” Everyone likes to know they are doing a good job and everyone can benefit from consistent feedback. A simple solution is to check in on your young employee and make sure they’re satisfied with their work. Remember, they prefer a boss who is more of a coach than a dictator.

Encourage them to Invest

The problem: They aren’t loyal. This one actually has some statistics to back its authenticity. According to the PayScale report about a quarter of millennials surveyed said workers shouldn’t be expected to stay in a job a year or less, before looking for a new position. That’s a stark contrast to the 41 percent of Baby Boomers who believe you should be with a job for at least five years before moving on.

The fix: Help them grow. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to guarantee career advancement. Instead, look at growth as a way to provide additional skillsets to your new hire. When employees get bored in their work they’re more likely to move on, but challenged and motivated employees typically stick around for the long haul.

While there may be drawbacks to hiring millennials, there are also plenty of advantages. Millennials are flexible and approach their job with an open mind. Very rarely will you ever hear them say “because that’s how we’ve always done it.” Also, they aren’t afraid of emerging technologies. Technology is changing at a rapid pace and no one understands this more than millennials. They’ve been using computers since they could sit up and are able to adapt to new software. What’s even better is they can turn around and teach your older workforce how to use it.

For additional resources to help you work alongside millennials consider checking out Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World by David D. Burstein and the Harvard Business Review’s article on Mentoring Millennials.

For fun, here’s a quick 15 question QUIZ created by the Pew Research Center that figures out just how “Millennial You Are.”

For the record, I scored a 76.