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Lately the headlines in personal finance have been pretty bleak — the average 2017 graduate has nearly $40,000 in student loans, millennial homeownership is down, and 39 percent of Americans have no savings at all. Even if you’re not concerned about your financial future, you may well be worried about a child’s, a sibling’s or someone else’s.
Thankfully, there are a few bright spots out there. A new piece of research from Schwab, the 2018 Modern Wealth Index, highlighted a few of them — including the fact that millennials are actually the best financial planners of any generational group. Thirty-one percent have a written financial plan, compared with just 20 percent of Gen X and 22 percent of Boomers. They also best others when it comes to goal-setting and saving. Meanwhile, women emerged as being better long-term investors and than men, and they’re more likely to research major purchases.
Here’s a look at some of the things millennials and women are doing right, and how you can put their winning strategies to use in your life.
1. They ask questions
As a general rule, neither millennials nor women are afraid to ask questions, and that’s giving them a leg up, says Holly Newman Kroft, managing director of wealth management at Neuberger Berman. “Many millennials are living with a large burden of student loans, and they haven’t accumulated assets, so they’re a little hesitant about investing. They ask questions because they want to make sure they’re doing the right thing.”
Asking questions about finances shouldn’t be any different or more intimidating than asking questions in any other area of your life, Kroft says. “Are you going to go to the doctor and just blindly take medical advice or drugs? You’re probably going to research your condition, and be your own advocate when you go in there —you should be the same way with your financial advisor.” When you ask more questions, you increase your understanding, which is empowering — you’ll be less likely to panic in times of market turmoil, Kroft says. “People are always more scared of the things they don’t understand.”
When you ask more questions, you increase your understanding, which is empowering — you’ll be less likely to panic in times of market turmoil.
2. They’re joining groups
Social media and other online communities have led to a proliferation of virtual and real-world spaces where people can support each other’s financial struggles, decisions and successes. “I would call them support groups,” Kroft says, “But they’re really more like clubs. I see people discussing everything from going back to work while breastfeeding to finding the right financial planner. People are really just looking to find a community, get educated and share advice.”
Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have really changed the game when it comes to people connecting on important topics, explains Chris Britt, CEO and co-founder of banking app Chime. “If you’ve found something that’s been helpful to you, there’s a natural instinct to want to share it with others,” he says.