This is the latest in our “More Than a Number” series, which profiles individuals and shows how each person is truly more than just their finances. Please leave a comment or question for Erin below! And if you’d like to be included in a future profile, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name: Erin (aka Broke Millennial)
My biggest goal in 5 words or less: Financial independence
My biggest challenge in 5 words or less: Saving on a low income.
Can you tell us who you are?
A 24-year-old living in New York City and trying to spread my obsession with personal finance. During the day I work in public relations, but at night I get to hide behind my computer and assume a sassy identity as a millennial pushing for financial literacy in my generation. Plus, it motivates me to be constantly learning about money and how to better handle my own financial situation. When I’m not fighting for millennial financial freedom everywhere, I am usually plotting my next travel adventure or fantasizing about finally being able to own a dog.
What’s your general financial philosophy?
Pay myself first. Each time I get paid, I automatically move 10-15% into my savings account. I also have a pretty constant knowledge about how much I have in checking and savings accounts. Instead of living in constant fear of overdraft charges or in terror about looking at my bank account, I find it empowering to crunch the numbers on a regular basis and know just how much I have to spend during the week.
What has been your biggest financial hurdle or challenge?
Living in New York on a low income means it’s really hard to contribute to a 401k, save 10-15% of my paycheck and still have money left over to pay bills, grocery shop and enjoy myself. Learning how to balance my budget and constantly readjust it for unexpected expenses has been a challenge.
What are some of the strategies or lessons you’ve learned from taking on this challenge?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is the importance of living within my means. I’m incredibly careful not to go over budget and I start saving well in advance for any trips or big splurges I want to make.
Do your finances control you or do you control your finances?
I control my finances in the sense that I don’t let my bank account, salary or bills intimidate me. Instead, I embrace the challenge of saving on in low-income in an expensive city. However, my finances control me because I clearly cannot have everything I’d love to spend money on. I can’t just buy a nice purse or expensive shoes or book a vacation without weeks (or months) of saving and careful long-term planning.
What is the hardest expenditure in your budget to maintain at a reasonable level?
Travel. For one, I’m in a long-distance relationship, but I also don’t live near my family or many of my close friends. I usually end up traveling once a month and try to keep the costs down by taking cheaper forms of transportation, like a Greyhound Bus. Traveling is also one of my favorite things to do, so I’m typically plotting how to end up on my next trip.
What would you tell yourself if you could go back in time and talk to “you” from ten years ago?
Well, I was only 14 at the time but I would say to start investing in the stock market earlier. Time is everything when it comes to investing and I wish I had started a few years earlier.
Where do you want to go from here? What are your goals for the future?
My long term goal is to be financially independent, which to me means not needing to rely on a paycheck for money. It will take years, savvy investing and some frugal habits, but I’m certain I can attain this goal before an average retirement age. My short-term goal is to feel more confident investing in the stock market.